Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sanitizing the Suffering Right Out of our Lives

We've probably all heard about people who sanitize their homes to the point that they, and their entire families, are always sick. It's a vicious cycle... they think there are more germs, so they clean more, and are thus giving their kids' bodies less and less opportunities to really do combat with germs, so they get sick more.

Long story short, a completely bleached house does not a good immune system make.

Nor does a life sanitized of suffering lead to good character.

We live in a time in the world where you can pretty much set yourself up to have quite an easy life. As Americans, we are the most isolated, comfort-driven nation, probably in the history of the world. We can "have it your way" in virtually every area of our lives, big or small.

  • Don't like the city you live in? Move!
  • Don't like your spouse? Get a new one.
  • Don't like your car? Trade it in!
  • Friendship get uncomfortable? "Defriend" them (on Facebook) and avoid all contact.
  • Don't like the inconvenience of pregnancy? Avoid the hassle through any number of available methods!
  • Don't like your boss? Put in your notice and look elsewhere.
  • Don't like the service you received? Complain!
  • Don't like feeling variances in temperature? Set your thermostat so you always have it precisely where you like it.
  • Don't get along with someone at your church? Find a new one.
And on and on it could go.

But there's just one problem with this-- as Christians, God has built suffering into our lives for good and godly and GLORIOUS purposes:
The Word makes it clear that as humans, we will suffer, and even moreso, as Christians, we will suffer. Though it's painful, unpleasant, and often leaves us sore and shocked, we should not run from the suffering God has placed in our lives. I can tell you, from our experiences-- with unexplained sickness, miscarriages, and facing unexpected life changes, which is still nothing compared to the suffering of so many-- that suffering does indeed teach endurance. It is valuable for one's character. It absolutely can deepen faith in Christ. It gives us a oneness with other hurting people. Suffering moves us to prayer. It teaches us more about how to comfort and love others who are hurting. It gives a deeply needed perspective in our highly-controlled, highly-comfortable lives.

Please hear me-- I'm not saying we should seek to suffer. Nor that we should never seek to change a situation if there is pain or discomfort.

But what I am saying is that when your marriage relationship is discouraging, or when there is no fruit on the vine of your life, or when you've been publicly humiliated, or when sickness has taken hold, or when a relationship gets extremely uncomfortable, or when you suffer deep loss, or when there seems to be nothing left, or when it would just be easier to leave and find a new church, or when everything looks bleak, or when you lose your job, or when you have overdrawn your account, CHRIST IS THERE. HE knows suffering. HE bore suffering. He will walk with you and teach you unspeakable things in some of the lowest moments if you'll let Him.

Don't be tempted to sanitize suffering out of your life... pray. Look for what He will do. Be patient. Don't run from it-- endure! Read of His sufferings. Dare to hope. Cling to Christ!


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