There are times in life when one reaches a place of pain, and as they come to it, as the thing begins to unfold, the place of pain is magnified because of the further realization that this place of pain is just one more to add to the list of rooms building a house of burdens that one might live in.
I won’t say that this is right and normal to do, to live in a house like that, but I will say that things such as this occur. Hope turns to disappointment for what seems to be the 104th time in a row, and it comes time to beat up on one’s self once again for having hope, maintaining faith, just to have it unfulfilled yet again.
And in those times where we reach those places of pain, the pain’s occurrence might seem cyclical, and it very well might be. But, there is a wonderful place quite possible in the midst of the pain; in fact, this place most often, perhaps always, demands pain as an entrance fee. So, in actuality, the wonder of this place largely comes as one exits the place of pain. It is a movement from one room to the next, but entering through the first room to get to the second seems to make the second room seem far more incredible.
This second place, this place possible to enter in the midst of pain, is the recognition of God’s faithfulness. It is the realization of God’s great working even in the midst of the pain. Perhaps, I think I could say, it might be the realization of God’s great working in using the very pain itself.
I’ve gone through both these rooms, I think, at least a few times in just the past several weeks. In just the past two weeks I’ve gone through those rooms more than once. I often say I have a bad memory it seems to me, but I really am so quick to forget how faithful God is in working things out.
In the process of entering and exiting these rooms of pain and realization repeatedly, I’ve come to see more of how much I really can’t plan things out. Sure, I can plan all I want, but things can change so rapidly it’s painful. As soon as I think I’ve got something figured out or don’t see any other realistic way something could go, my best guesses at future events in my life soon prove wrong on a pretty regular basis.
But, as my plans fall apart and God’s plans fall into place, God begins to teach me just that: that His plans are falling into place. And, more than that, His plans are good. And, even more than that, they are good for me. Christ is good to me. As things come unraveled in my eyes, Jesus is knitting things together. As I may face the pain of hope deferred (Proverbs 13:12) or loss, spiritual warfare, struggle with sin, the burdens of others, etc., God is working things out for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His good purpose (Romans 8:28).
I know that Jesus loves me. I am a child of God, so I know that He loves me. I know He is faithful. But as we enter that first room, the room of pain, understanding that this pain is for good can be very difficult. And, yes, I know it may have been said a hundred thousand times before, but that does not make it any less true.
What might seem like a cycle of pain in periods of life is what I think leads me to say on a fairly regular basis that “life’s been a bit of a rollercoaster” in response to the question of how I’ve been. Life has been a bit of a roller coaster as I battle with pain and forgetfulness— forgetfulness of God’s working and goodness.
I went camping this last weekend with my church, and had youth group Wednesday night. Both what my senior pastor spoke on during the camping trip and what my youth pastor spoke on for youth group appeared to be pretty direct hits at me.
They spoke of having good attitudes, of being faithful. The story of Joseph was looked at, and his life of pain and prosperity. My youth pastor discussed how even over 20 years ago these different things God was working out that have now been seen in his midst. In every situation, even if it seems horrible, later we might really see how God was working for the glory of Him and the good of His children.
The reality of Abraham and his faith was discussed by my senior pastor. God had made a promise to Abraham, and he moved forward to sacrifice his own son, to kill his only child, by which God was supposed to fulfill His promise. And what did Abraham reason in his mind? That God could raise his son from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). Abraham trusted God. He had faith.
As soon as I see how God was working things out for good, or at least how it seems so to me, the rug might just be pulled out from under me again. But after time and time again of realizing the goodness of God, we ought to at least begin to get the idea that it WILL be worked out by God. We ought to trust that and know that and believe that.
In discussing Abraham and having a good attitude, or having an attitude that is not childish, my senior pastor recounted his own struggle with a change of plans and responding improperly with a bad attitude. He asked something along the lines of, how many of us begin to thank Jesus the moment our plans are ruined and/or a hard time comes upon us? How many of us initially respond with praise when we begin to suffer?
I often don’t if I ever do.
It’s kind of funny how many things I understand in my head it seems, but then I really start learning. As I go through things, God really begins to teach me what different stuff means. We need to be taught what trusting in God is. What it really is. We need to learn it. May we ask God for this, though it may be painful. Though it likely will be. Perhaps I could even guarantee that.
Life is hard, but God is good. We look not to earthly things for our hope. We do not look to the things the world looks to. We put our hope in Christ. Our desire is Heaven, our desire is Him, our desire is the LORD of Hosts. We seek His presence, His glory, joy in Him. We stumble, we fall, we have evil desires, we are tempted, we sin. But God is better, He is more, the pain of this life cannot compare to what the children of God have to look forward to after death.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hopethat the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.Romans 8:18-25
Trust in Jesus. Trust in Jesus.
All glory to God forever and ever, He is good, amen.
All direct verse quotations are taken from the ESV
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