“Life is hard. And then you die.”
– My Dad
On Saturday I wrote about contentment. The fact that “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1.3). That Jesus is the bread of life and living water, and whoever comes to Him will not thirst or hunger anymore (John 6.35, John 4.10) But those truths do not mean that we will have lives of ease. That there will not be trials, that we will not suffer, or that we will not despair. Paul, the author of much of the New Testament said that there were times that his suffering was so severe that he “despaired even of life” (2 Cor 1.8).
I grew up singing a song called “Sunshine and Roses”:
I used to sing a sad song filled with gray skies and rain. I used to sing of no future sad days with only pain. Now as I look back upon them seems to me that I find They were days of in the valley now I’ve left them all behind. And now it’s sunshine and roses, only a thorn now and then. Cool streams warm breezes, since Jesus took my hand. Green meadows and laughter, hope within a crumbling time. And now it’s sunshine and roses only a thorn now and then. I never miss the old ways yet think back from time to time. To those days of no purpose, when my life had little rhyme. Though the water drops be bitter they much sweeter make the taste Of one drop of God’s blessing, blessing given by His grace.
In theory this is a possible experience of God in your relationship with Him and in your new nature as a child of His. However, I have never known someone for whom this is the case. And if is it your life story, praise God that He has saved you from the heartache that life can bring, or given you the fortitude of Spirit and faith to keep all suffering and hardships in perspective. We have all heard the stories of those who faced cancer, loss of a loved one, persecution and death with admirable strength, and if we all had that continual perspective, we could sing “Sunshine and Roses” truthfully.
But unfortunately, most of us have experienced life to not be that. That is, in fact, the result of the fall and the curse. God promised that life would be hard. And then we would die. Jesus himself was mourned and broken for the lostness around Him. He did not want to die on the cross. He agonized over it, in fact, praying to God that there be another way. David, a man after God’s own heart, wrote most of the book of the Psalms, many of which are songs of despair – begging for death or relief from his suffering. Jesus even affirmed those who are mourning:
“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”
– Matt 5.4
There are many interpretations of the beatitudes and this verse, but regardless of the content of what is being mourned by the believer, the result is that he who mourns will be comforted. Paul acknowledges that we do mourn, but not as those who do not have hope (1 Thess 4.13).
And that is the key. There will be days of sorrow, trial and pain. And to whatever depth the pain grips our hearts, there is always a deeper reality established in the heart of the Christian that this is all to a good end: God’s glory and our eternal benefit. There is always a deeper hope that this suffering will not last, but we will have everlasting life and joy in eternity with Christ. We have confidence that God will redeem the time, He will make use out of the suffering – all suffering – and we have peace.
Therefore, do not place too high of expectation on your circumstances. If you are mourning, then mourn. If you know someone who is mourning, mourn with him (Rom 12.15). God does not promise that our lives will be a walk in the park, He promises to walk with us through the valleys. He promises the strength to endure suffering until the end. Like Jesus did. He comforts us in our weakness and He carries us through the trials. Walk with Him. Cling to Him. He alone will get you through. And when you are experiencing sunshine and roses, praise Him for His grace that got you through the last valley!
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.