Sunday, February 15, 2009

“Pain, Our Pathway To Life!”

I have never wanted too much out of life. I have never had lofty dreams or extravagant expectations. I just want the basic good things in life, moderate provision, healthy body, and to be surrounded by family and friends. I just want life’s problems to leave me alone so I can live a happy little life void of pain, sorrow and all other such annoying distractions. Like most people I suppose, when life throws some unfortunate circumstance at me that threatens to upset my happy little world, I pray that God will quickly come and correct the situation, so I can just go on about my “happy little business.” However if God doesn’t show up to answer my prayers in a timely manner or to my expectations I sometimes get a little upset or disillusioned. Why does God allow this pain to come into my life and disrupt my happy little world? After all doesn’t the Word says that He loves me and that He will answer when I call upon His name? I’m doing my best to serve Him and am trusting in Jesus shed blood and in His grace? So what’s the deal?

The thing is, God has shown me that this is such an unbelievably arrogant way to think and live, and the horrendous thing about this mind set is that I am treating God as if He were “my” assistant. As if it were His job to make sure I live the happy little life I so desire. A life filled with my will being done on earth rather than God’s. How did I come to think God should make sure I live the happy little life I want? Why do I spend so much of my time seeking life and fulfillment in all the “gifts” that God provides instead of seeking life in God Himself?

The book of Job tells of a time when Satan appeared before God and God begins to brag to Satan about his servant Job. To which Satan replies, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?” (Job1:9-10) Even Satan sees and understands that there is physical benefits to serving God, and that God delights in pouring His love and favor upon those who love and fear Him. But while it’s true that those who trust in God do reap the benefits of God’s favor and protective hedge, to treat God as if He were my assistant, who’s purpose is to fulfill my desires, or keep me happy according to my will is certainly blasphemous. I was created to be God’s assistant in building His kingdom, created with the purpose and privilege of allowing Him to use me to fulfill His desire and to do His will, not the other way around.

In his book Walking with God, John Eldredge makes this revealing statement, “We see God as a means to an end rather than the end itself. God as the assistant to our life verses God AS our life.” “Jesus AS my life!” O how my soul leaps at the prospect of it. It sounds so simple, I certainly mentally assent to that concept, and I so want Jesus as my life! I certainly want and seek for Him to be my only desire, my only source of joy, my only source of life. Certainly now and then in times of worship I do get short glimpses of that reality. But in the day to day, and minute by minute existence that I live in, I find myself constantly being drawn back into seeking for life (fulfillment & satisfaction) in the “gifts” rather than in the “Giver.” Seeking for life among the things I see rather than in Jesus who created those things. I do this even though I know that seeking for life among these fleeting and decaying pleasures of the earth realm will in the end, always leave me disappointed and empty.

I personally don’t believe that God brings disease, death, or other such trials upon us just to teach us things, but the Word does teach that He uses them to our advantage. “All things work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) God has been revealing to me that I have been wasting my pain. What I mean is this, if I truly want to live with Jesus AS my life, I need to begin to embrace the pains and troubles of life. For pain can be my tutor on my path to wholeness. Pain and trials will expose to me the lie that life can be found in “things” and “pleasures.” Pain is also the very things that God will use to uncover my sin, my brokenness, and my fears, that only Jesus’ love and grace can heal. The very thing I avoid the most and ask God to quickly take away, can be my biggest ally. The very thing that feels as though it is killing me, is the very thing God desires to use to bring me life. That is if I will allow it to. A trial is an opportunity for God to perfect me, and an opportunity for me to see God work. It is an opportunity for Jesus to become my life, for I will not find healing until I discover (or admit) what is broken or missing within me.

“I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” John 10:10 Amp. Jesus AS my Life! That is what the Word promises, but life doesn’t come without cost. After all in order to bring us life, it cost Jesus his life. Our healing came at the price of His scourging and beating. “and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isa. 53:5) So don’t waste your pain! It is far too valuable. In the hands of Jesus it will set you free.

So watch out pain, you will no longer bring us death, for we will pay attention to what you reveal in us and allow Jesus to use you to be our pathway to life and freedom.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:16-18