(Picture from Barlow's Blog: http://mrbarlow.wordpress.com/)I know this sounds like a strange name for a post, but I cannot get away from this topic. I feel like lately I have been confronted over and over with pain in the lives of those around me. "I lost my sweet baby"..."my child is going into surgery"..."I lost a friend to cancer"..."part of my leg is being amputated"..."my father will pass away at any time"...and I know this list could go on. We all deal with pain in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. I have been challenged with how I will think about and dwell on the pain in my life and those I interact with.
Lately, in every area of life, God has been taking me back to the cross. He has been reminding me of the goodness and love of Christ as He hung there to pay for my sins and those of all His children. I am learning that everything good is from Him and if He died for me, He will also freely give me all things. I desire to meditate on the sweetness of these truths at all times - good and bad. So how do these reminders affect my interaction with the pain I so often see?
I realize that the greatest pain was faced at the cross, when Christ was separated from the Father - not for His own sins, but for those of the sins of the world. He was forsaken for people that are His enemies...people who shake their fist in His face and disregard His work on their behalf. I remember that what I truly deserve is death for offending a holy God. And yet He not only offers me life, He gives me eternal life in relationship to Him. He gives me true purpose in life. So really, anything I have that is over and above that is an amazing "extra". To breath every day, to walk, to see, to smell, to taste, to enjoy creation, to have an incredible husband, to take care of my sweet daughter, to live in a house, to wear clothing and so much more are all the wonderful "extras". And if I lose these things and more, I should still be able to worship God because I remember what I really deserve. I remember that life is a vapor - here for a moment and gone. It cannot be compared to the glory that will follow. We are simply in the cocoon waiting to escape into eternity and become the beautiful butterfly we were made to be in the first place. So when days feel long and when I hear another person describe the agony they face, I remember there is a greater purpose and the pain will soon be a faint memory as I bask in the glory of God. I do not know exactly what that will be like, but I can see glimpses on a daily basis of this precious reality. The greatest reality. I'm not trying to minimize what people go through. I know we are human and there is some pain that is so very deep. I do not take that lightly. I just find myself realizing that when we want to run so many places for help, the answer is actually in Christ. May we find Him our refuge and not go elsewhere.
I'm sure there is more. I also know more intelligent people have written on this topic. I kind of felt like I had to get some of it down...to even understand what I was thinking.
"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen." I Peter 5:10-11