By Allen White
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:12
“We should be worried if we’re not suffering,” according to Francis Chan, the author of Crazy Love and The Forgotten God. If we fit into our culture so well that there is no friction between the way we live and the way the world lives, this is cause for concern. Have we been squeezed into the world’s mold? (Romans 12:2)
In my single days, I watched a lot of television…a lot. I didn’t realize how much television influenced me until after I got married and stopped watching as much television. Suddenly, television didn’t have the same appeal. After time passed, I went back and watched a few shows that I hadn’t seen for years. I was surprised by the language they used and the things they poked fun at. I was disturbed by what these programs portrayed. But, I was even more disturbed by the fact that I used to watch these programs and think nothing of it. I was the frog in the kettle. I was sliding down the slippery slope. Unaware.
Now this is not an effort to become some sort of goodie two shoes, holier-than-thou jerk. We don’t need any more of those. The point is that we were made for another place far from this world (Philippians 3:18-20). If we work hard to fit in with the world, then we have lost our reason for being.
The prophets of old followed God’s calling for their lives, and they suffered for it. Most of us would say, “Great. I thought that living in obedience to God would make our lives easier.” Here’s the news: following Christ is a harder path, but it’s a better path. It’s the path of salvation. At times, it’s not comfortable. At times, we suffer because of it. But, in the end, we become more like Christ.
Peter told us, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world” (1 Peter 4:12-13). This is the part that we’d rather skip. These are the pages of our Bibles that we would prefer to have left stuck together. But, it’s also a bit of a relief, because some of us are going through some stuff, and it’s good to know that God hasn’t forgotten us and that our pain has a purpose.
No one’s life is easy. My life isn’t easy. Neither is yours. Our purpose on earth is not to have an easy and comfortable life. But, finding and fulfilling our life’s purpose is more satisfying than comfort or ease.
As I was walking over the Liberty Bridge this morning on my way to write, I spotted a plant growing in a difficult circumstance over the Reedy River Falls. It’s a non-native plant. A gardener didn’t plant it here. It just began to fulfill its purpose: to grow roots for nourishment and to reach out to the sun. There would be much easier places to grow, but this was the spot where this plant grew. It didn’t really have a choice.
We are not called to live someone else’s life. We are not given a life that is problem-free. We are blessed.
How is your life blessed despite your circumstances? How has God given you joy and peace in the middle of trouble? Thank God for His blessings in your life.
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