In my last blog, I wrote about Pleasure and Pain and we at Q4 believe it warrants more discussion. In that corresponding podcast, we discussed that our life experience includes times of celebration and pleasure as well as times of heartache and disappointment. Through the conversation, it became apparent to me that in many ways we’re not really prepared for either one.
How can we become more like Paul, who wrote in Philippians 4:12, that he had learned both how to abound and how to suffer loss? The more attention we give to this topic, the clearer it becomes that life includes both types of experiences. Some lives have more pleasure than others, while some have more than their share of pain. How the circumstances of our lives unfold often has little to do with us. How we respond to those circumstances has VERY much to do with us.
What do you Believe about suffering?
I believe the place we must begin is with our theology. More specifically, we must identify what we actually believe:
- Do we really believe God created the world and is all-knowing and sovereign?
- Do we really believe we are eternal beings and that our stop here on earth is but temporary?
- Do we really believe we are no better than any other of God’s human creation and not really entitled to anything?
Answering these questions is a way to begin preparing ourselves for the mix of experiences life brings. Consider this: Does anyone really make it through this life without suffering the early loss of loved ones? Do any of us escape the physical deterioration of our physical abilities as we age? Do we not all suffer rejection, measures of betrayal, disappointment, and loss of many kinds? Are our parents, teachers, spouses, politicians, and friends perfect? You get the point.
Life on this earth includes fires and floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, and a host of other tragedies. There is evil, there is disease, there is selfishness everywhere we look. And yes, Christian, even as children of God, we will also suffer in all these tragedies. Believers die in car crashes, train wrecks, plane disasters, and ships that sink. Lives are lost in wars. Sickness robs, businesses fail and spouses desert marriages.
Maintaining a biblical perspective
Why am I belaboring all these difficulties? Because I desire for us to develop a faith in God that will allow us to respond as Job did when he said, “Shall we accept only good things from God, and never anything bad?” (Job 2:10, NLT). I want us to learn how to trust God when the roof caves in. When it’s our turn to face whatever loss or devastation may come our way. The beliefs we hold about the person and character of God will ultimately determine if we will be able to give Him thanks in ALL circumstances and continue to live faithfully for Him.
In addition, it’s important to note that our theology also impacts how we handle the good in our lives. Sadly, we’re not always so great at being winners either. It is easy to take lots for ourselves, be ungracious to those we defeat, and slow to give back.
To the Cross I cling
The overarching goal of this blog is to turn us all back to the cross – continually. To remind us that Jesus didn’t promise us a life without difficulty until heaven. He is the Son of God and encountered the worst kind of pain while on this earth. Why would we think our lives would be filled with only comfort and ease?
Friends, God wants to work deeply in our hearts, so that we learn to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with and comfort those in pain (Romans 12:15, paraphrase). We can only do this as we allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen our capacity to be thankful when we face our hardships. To persevere and remain faithful when the clouds gather, and to stay devoted to our Savior, who gave us His all. THIS is the cross to bear in this life. Let’s bear ours with strength of character and honor the Lord in ALL our circumstances, AND because of His love. THIS what we at Q4 Impact believe.