We have this idea
that the road of life
the "normal road"
looks something like this
fairly smooth, just some little bumps here and there
That is not reality though
"Normal life" is not a life of
no pain or suffering
or hardship and trials
"Normal life," the life
most people walk
has a road that looks more like this
You don't even know where the road is sometimes
let alone is the road smooth.
"Normal life" is full of hard stuff
We all face it. No one, no matter how wealthy, successful or famous gets to escape from the hardships of living in an imperfect world. Somehow in America we get this idea in our heads that normal life doesn't involve really painful and hard things. We want to live this life of ease and when we get hit with painful experiences we wonder where God is and why He isn't faithful? He is supposed to be good and keep us from hurting, right? Not so. God actually promises in John 16:33 that we will have tribulations...tough stuff will happen. Pain and suffering are not a novelty (other countries in the world know that all too well). I have personally talked to about 7 or 8 different people in the last two weeks, all dealing with different, but major, struggles and heartaches. People struggling with various physical problems, major illness, loss of a child or loved one, grief of various kinds, disappointing or scary news, major life struggles or relationship struggles. I am sure you could add to the list.
Knowing of all this pain constantly surrounding us gives those who are followers of Jesus two opportunities. First we can love those hurting like Jesus would. We can be His hands and feet in their life like so many have done for my life. We can bring hope and encouragement to them, and just be there for them.
In other works, we get off our road (even if it is looking pretty smooth right now)
and join them in the valleys and for the tough climbs
Because that is exactly what Jesus would do.
Second, when it is us facing the heartahce, we can be salty and bright in a world longing for hope. We can embrace whatever trials come our way because of the hope and joy we have in Christ. We can still be real and admit life is hard and we are hurting, but not be defeated and not lose hope. We can recognize God is still who He says He is. Faith and hope are a choice, and we can choose them every day. We don't have to wonder why this terrible thing is happening to us, why not us? Am I so special that the rest of the world should hurt but not me? It is during those times, when we still have hope and joy that the world stops and takes notice because that is something different than what they are used to seeing.
Salty and bright...
I want to be that way.
(for more on that you can read or listen to John Piper here.)
And I can be. Because though promising we will have trouble, God also promises that He has overcome the world, and in Romans 8:37-39 that we will overcome all of the trouble here and nothing can seperate us from His love. In Philippians 4:6-7 He promises we can bring all of our heartache and worries to Him and He will give us His peace in our hearts. He doesn't promise to change our circumstances but He does promise peace in the midst of them.
God is good
despite all the pain around us
I don't say that lightly. I have walked through dark waters
and I have no doubt there will be many more.
But, if I say I believe His Word to be true, then I have to hold onto that no matter what life may bring.