Monday, January 24, 2011

Perspective: This Life Only?

Sitting here in a Memphis Hospital room with many wires hooked up to my little boy's body and an antennae of sorts sticking out of his head, I'm reminded of what Paul said to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15:19, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ Jesus, we are of all men MOST MISERABLE [emphasis mine]." Over the last year especially, God has been using my son and his physical struggles to teach me about his plan and purpose, about people, and about life in general. Here is some newfound perspective that He has taught me.

There are times in life when you think, "Surely this isn't all there is. Surely this isn't what life was meant to be." And the truth is, "It isn't." It is easy to look at suffering in this present life and want to blame God and say, "If you're there, why don't you do something about it." You wring your hands in disbelief and say, "Why me? What have I done to deserve this?" or especially, "What has my child done?" These are the times that try the hearts of men and test our faith in God. When you can only see one piece of the puzzle at a time, it is impossible to see the entire picture. At best we are looking through a glass darkly. There are times of testing when you get mad at God and everyone around and want to lash out, because the pain inside is too great for you to bear. During these times, people simply need prayer, encouragement, and to know you care and are there for them.

Now, I believe it is human nature to want to figure things out and have something clever or insightful to say to help others fix their problems, when sometimes the best thing said is nothing. Sometimes people just need to know you care and that you're there; and they don't want or need a solution to their problem. And there are times when trite cliches just don't measure up to the gravity of people's situations. And certainly people who are going through the trials don't need me to be their judge and critic saying, "If they hadn't done this or they weren't doing that, they wouldn't have ended up in this mess!" I've been guilty of all of the above at times and have now come to realize how insensitive of me it was. I didn't mean to be; after all, I was just trying to help, but I was. And having now lived it for the past 3.5 yrs (past year in particular), I realize that what meant the most was having Christian people that didn't try to come up with all the answers but were simply and continue to be Christ's hands, mouth and feet.

Whether it's the friend saying, "I love you and am praying. If there's anything I can do let me know," or the pastor stopping by and praying for and with my child, or the nurse or volunteer you meet for the first time offering cups of cold water in His name, you begin to see God's plan. The plan that we aren't here to be islands unto ourselves but each life is somehow interwoven into a giant tapestry that is bringing glory to God! Furthermore, each trial and triumph is somehow interwoven and connected to shape us and make us into the image of Christ who was a man of sorrows and acquainted with our grief. He bore our burden, and now we are to bear His burden by sharing and bearing one another's burdens. And somehow, in doing so, we are sharing Heaven with an Earth that so desperately needs to see Jesus!

I don't have it all figured out, but I don't have to. That is so liberating, btw! I don't have to have it all figured out! All I need to know is that Christ loved me enough to die for me, and He's working all things together for my good. I can't always see it with these somewhat less than 20/20 eyes, especially when I'm going through it; but afterward, I can see it. I see it in each one of you who are going through it, each one of you who offer cups of cold water in His name, each one of you who continue to be Christ's Body on earth, and each one of you who continue to love unconditionally those who aren't loveable or lovely. Thanks for sharing Christ with others; and Thanks for letting me share a little of my time and heart with you today! God Bless!

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