Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Nothing Easy About It

A young woman performing God's work at an orphanage in a foreign land is kicked out by the local management for no apparent reason. A small town pastor is struggling to make ends meet for both the church and his family. A Dalit child meets Jesus, and is more oppressed by upper caste members than before. Churches across the south were destroyed by a hurricane. A leader of a powerful nation claims a relationship with Christ, and is attacked by people who hate him - and his Lord. Men and women of faith are brought low by adultery, theft, deceit or slander.

I think it is an understatement to say that our ways are not God's ways. Our ways would be much easier. And better. Yes, better. Because we know that suffering is terrible.

Or not.

Our ways are not God's ways, and this is good. God's ways are for our benefit. This comes as little comfort to the suffering missionary, the poverty-stricken believer, the terminally-ill child. Yet it is true. We are often told that suffering does not end when we accept by faith the grace God offers. The truth of the matter is that God promises suffering to those who follow Him. There is no promise to keep us free of pain or trouble. Christianity doesn't turn our earthly clouds into silver linings. What it does is better: faith gives us the strength to overcome our suffering. And it gives us the tools to share that suffering and carry one another's burdens.

God's ways aren't easy. Nor are they pain free. But they are the best ways. Do you know someone struggling right now? Pray for them. Share their burden, thereby lightening even your own. Is that person struggling right now you? Then know that I am praying for you now, even if I don't know your name. That's another benefit of God's ways. He provides us each other - since nobody should have to go through the hard times alone.

God bless!

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