When Jesus said “In the world you shall have tribulation” I don’t personally think He limited that key word to only mean a great persecution. Rather, it would seem in our obviously fallen, flawed, fraught-with-pains-and-struggles planet all of us face crises. Some of them are our own making, some not, still others a combination of these.
Regardless, Paul writes we “are being changed from glory to glory” not misery to misery. I do not wish to minimize anyone’s sense of personal hurt, not even slightly. Yet it does seem our focus can be up and out rather than a constant “within”.
Easier said than done- of course! I speak from experience.
I’ve mentioned in my online posts that my wife has struggled with several painful physical afflictions her entire life. She wakes up singing, smiling far more than I do and is an incredibly loving, unselfish servant to our children, grandchildren, myself and others. What an example to me who thus far has suffered far less by comparison!
Faith in the Risen Jesus Christ does not always and in every matter completely eliminate suffering. He walks *with* us. We face struggles and in many cases deep and devastating pains in our mortal bodies on this earth-ball. Thankfully Jesus completes His statement of fact with “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” One of my longtime favorite comments of His: “Because I live you shall live also.”
Ok- so some will brush all this off as a simpleton’s logic, a glass half full and pie in the sky approach to life. Understood -so how harsh is it to leave you to your misery/miseries?
God has called His people to help with those suffering, not to cause more of it though right through the entire Bible, church and human history and -our own lives- including yours, we indeed cause suffering on so many levels.
How much easier is it to blame God and others for my sins? How much simpler to conclude “A loving God would never allow…” until I look at Jesus on the cross. The sometimes referred to “scandal” of the perfect God the Son crucified by sinners on a cross of wood -and Him a carpenter most of His life until beginning His three years of ministry service to help the whole of human beings? His perfect work of alleviation of human suffering is wall-to-wall in the four Gospel accounts of all He did for hurting people -even though undeserved. We cannot “deserve” forgiveness of sins nor eternal life and yet this is what Jesus promises us.
Meanwhile we think and talk of our own undeserved suffering with little thought to His.
Certainly it’s understandable our focus on our own suffering is front and center, especially due to chronic illness.
As I’ve said, my Wendi deals with this for only one of her issues is arthritis which doesn’t just quit as one ages regardless of diet, treatment and exercise.
“Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God” is a tall command and one I’ve often battled with, trust me! Note also this was written by Paul to a church, yep, the Paul who was regularly threatened, mocked, beaten to the point of death, imprisoned though innocent of all charges. Might he have known something of pain and yet following Jesus in faith, hope and love? Was his life about himself or serving God and others?
So is our inner attitude “Curse God and die” or is it “Father God help me, thank you for grace and help me extend your love and grace best as I’m able in this day!”?
It seems to me bitterness toward God and/or others is the most painful, self-inflicted misery of all.
As His Word says, “But He gives more grace.” May we choose to walk this out best as we’re able in the pains of life.
In my own case I’ve visited too many incarcerated people in too many places to believe 1. they’re all guilty or 2. they’re all innocent. What I know is they all suffer regardless. I can also proclaim there is a massive difference in attitude, outlook and quality of life between those who seek and follow Jesus behind bars -regardless of ailments- and those who do not.
Of course you don’t have to be behind bars to be in prison. Jesus is all about setting captives free.
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn