By Cindy Koch –
I know what you want, because I want it too. Sunshine, relaxing days, preferably on the beach, surrounded by those whom you love, cared for by those who love you. Obedient children, kind and devoted parents, trustworthy friends, and a spouse who makes you complete. A deeper meaning in this life and good work shown by our hands. I know, it’s the things that fairy tales and Disney movies are made of. I want it, just like you.
But one day, you might have grown up a little bit and opened your eyes to the surrounding reality. Storms and unpredictable futures, anger, grudges, disappointments, and death. Struggle, pain, and suffering in every stage of life—childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and beyond. Some times are better than others; happy seasons wash over the troubled years. Minutes of smiles break through the months of tears. But without warning, the heartbreaking reality can sneak up on you once again.
To make sense of it all, we begin to awaken to consequences. A life lived in selfishness? Loneliness will follow. Destructive choices made? A painful outcome will be waiting. Disobey the rules? Shame and correction will be yours. On the other hand, an upright, disciplined, trustworthy, diligent life will shower you with happy rewards. Simple enough, right? Avoid the things that lead to suffering and pain. And of course, strive to harness the steps, plans, actions, and decisions of that shiny, happy life.
This might work just fine, for a while. You will delight in the upright, disciplined, trustworthy, and diligent life God commanded for His people. You will enjoy the blessings He showers on your shiny, happy Christian walk. As in life, we have learned when His good path is followed, a life of peace and contentment results. But if we disobey the Almighty God, as in the reality all around us, shame and suffering will certainly find us.
But then, the searing pain finds you one day without any warning. Walking the good and faithful path, doing everything the proper way according to the Word of the Lord. Suddenly, the comfort of home is gone. Children disappear from your loving arms. Your spouse has vanished, left you alone to bear the harsh world unprotected. Sickness claims your heart and soul that once praised the Almighty God. And all of this for no good reason. Here you cry, crushed under the weight of an angry, mean God, and your shiny, happy life has turned.
What did you do? It would make sense that this is a punishment from the One who knows all things. Experiencing this pain and suffering must mean you have taken the wrong path. Losing that shiny, happy life must mean that God is angry with you. But looking closely, there was no terrible sin that stood out. There was no gross fault in devotion or prayers. There were no wicked decisions made to walk in another direction, away from the Lord.
So what did He do? Why would a good and gracious God keep His blessings from you? It doesn’t make any sense that you once knew him as the perfect loving Creator, and now he has abandoned you. How can you tell other people He is such an awesome God when He have left you alone in this terrible pit? God certainly can save you. He has the power to deliver you from this pain. But he chooses, instead, to snuff out your shiny, happy life.
What now? To whom shall you go? To the One who speaks the Words of eternal life.
I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
In the death of your shiny, happy life, you are resurrected. With Christ, you are crucified to the reality of this vain and fleeting world, as happy as you thought it seemed. The comforts of the blessings from God today are a shadow of the greater things to come. With Christ, you are raised to a new life, joyfully expecting His blessings to endure forever. By Christ, they are promised and made permanent by His work, not yours.
So, you are set free from striving for your shiny, happy life. It is not up to you anymore to measure out the consequences for disobedience. It is not by your own righteous work that the gift of peace is yours. Even though you expect punishment and correction for your life gone wrong, Jesus has already taken that upon himself. Even though you expect praise for your days lived well, Jesus has already given you His perfect work there too.
And now you have grown up a little bit in Christ. He has opened your eyes to the surrounding reality. Storms and unpredictable futures, anger, grudges, disappointments, and death. Some times are better than others; happy seasons wash over the troubled years. Minutes of smiles break through the months of tears. Yes, without warning, the heartbreaking reality can sneak up on us once again. But the shiny, happy life won by Christ will never fade away.