We live in a culture that is fixated with avoiding pain or discomfort at all costs. The prevailing acceptance of abortion eliminates the discomfort of giving birth to a disabled or unwanted child. The rising occurrence of assisted suicide expedites imminent death while eliminating its pain. Heck, we can even be sedated to snooze through a dental appointment if we choose!
Unfortunately, we as Christians are prone to buying into this cultural folly. We want Easter Sunday without Good Friday. We want The Resurrection without The Crucifixion.
This distorted mindset has plagued us since the dawn of history. Sarah felt the need to help God along, attempting to remedy her pain of childlessness by getting her husband, Abraham to sleep with her maidservant, Hagar. (See Genesis 16) Barak insisted that the prophetess Deborah accompany him into the battle God had ordered him to lead, hoping to insure an easy victory. (See Judges 4) Saul rushed ahead of God in an attempt to calm the fears of his soldiers, refusing to wait for Samuel the priest to arrive and offer a burnt offering to the Lord. Instead, Saul offered the sacrifice. (See 1 Samuel 13) None of these situations resulted in an outcome pleasing to God. Thus, the people involved forfeited their own enjoyment of God's best for their lives.
We would do well to take notice of these outcomes as a cautionary tale to all of us!
There are many lessons that can only be learned through the school of crucifixion and suffering. Humility, self-denial, mercy, compassion, persistence and commitment are not traits that naturally come to us with ease. Furthermore, God assures us that His power is made perfect in our weakness. (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10) We rob God of glory that could be displayed through us when we try to circumvent suffering at all costs.
The perseverance that glorifies God and carries us through to our final destination is much closer to the athletic mantra of "No pain, no gain!" than it is to the insanity of our luxury-driven culture. As we struggle through our daily trials, know that these "...light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17) Obeying our Wise Father, even if it means discomfort, is where we should set our sights. This is the exact behavior that our beautiful Savior engaged in when He took the hope-giving route from Good Friday to Easter Sunday!
PRAY: Holy Spirit, make me brave in the face of pain and discomfort so that it brings You the most glory.
~ Barb Dittrich