It's easy to think (and hope) that we are the exception–the one to whom cancer, miscarriage, death of a loved one and suffering won't come.
And to be truthful, it scares me to think of those things happening. Suffering is painful, unpleasant and not exactly valued by our world today. We view it as an inconvenience, an interruption to our plans and dreams; and frankly it is sometimes.
A Distorted Perspective
A stark realization I had recently was that I am more often afraid of God, rather than having a reverent fear of him.
The former leads me to strive tirelessly by my own efforts to try harder, to get it together and overcome sin so that God won't need to take me through a trial to learn a lesson. It's as though I'm constantly trying to live in anticipation of what may come and work hard enough so as to avoid pain. Yes, it's as exhausting as it sounds. The quote above sums up the tension in my heart.
Conversely the latter, fearing God, allows me to rest in his sovereignty. Do I truly believe that the Lord is in control? That his ways and thoughts are greater than my ways and thoughts? Do I think I can avoid pain and suffering when my faith is built on the One who suffered for my sin, what we celebrate this Good Friday?
I hold a view of God that says I can manipulate him, that by trying hard I can avoid pain. The other night I shared with my husband a book I had added to my reading list about death. The blogger who recommended it said thinking on our death is a good and sobering endeavor, although it seems terribly morbid to many of us.
I was afraid to even say I wanted to read something like that, thinking that it would essentially cause it to happen. To which my husband stopped me mid-sentence and smiled, reminding me that's not how it works.
During a recent Bible course we took on the Pentateuch, we were discussing the 10 Commandments. A sticking thought is in regards to "taking the Lord's name in vain."
We know this to mean using God's name as a curse word. An additional meaning for taking the Lord's name in vain may also refer to praying as though using his name was magical, to get what you want. Just to pray something "in Jesus's name" doesn't mean it will happen.
We don't conjure up our own power in prayer; we make our requests known to God and submit to his power and will.
Good Thoughts for this Good Friday
Jesus's suffering doesn't mean that I won't encounter trials. It means that I have an advocate who empathizes, who understands and who modeled what it looks like to walk through the valley in complete dependence on and submission to the Father.
A Redeemer who secured my eternity in heaven, a place that will indeed be free of sorrows and pain.
Though this life now has many rich blessings and incredible moments, my best life is on the other side of the grave because of Jesus Christ's life, death and resurrection. And that is something worthy of my thoughts, energy and efforts this Good Friday, and every day.