It all started the other day when the boys were sword fighting. Luke, my youngest, bravely declared to his brother "I will fight you to the death!" (Yeah, he's 5...should I be concerned about the level of violence in their fighting? I think no...it's more about valiance and bravery actually - things I want them to learn...) Anyway, not 30 seconds later, his brother apparently got a good shot in and he whined "Owwww....don't actually hurt me!!" For some reason, I immediately thought about how much that reminds me of Christians - and namely myself. We talk really big sometimes - nobly declaring our love for God and how we will stand no matter what comes...but somehow I think we are thinking on some massive scale reminiscent of Hitler's atrocities - which in all honesty we have absolutely no grasp on. We can't even really fathom the kind of persecution other Christians around the world face; it's something that American's, for the most part, just don't wrap their minds around. I'm not saying, by any means, that it's not something we won't ever experience. But as of now, we really have no concept. But we sure do have lofty ideas of how we would faithfully endure. And yet...
And yet...the smallest trials crop up in our life and how do we respond? Well, at least for me, I tend to whine and complain and crumple. I bemoan the situation to anyone who will tolerate my tale of woe. And I half-way pray and ask God to 'fix it!!' for me. What happened to that passionate resolve to endure now?? It's just like Luke... "I'll fight to the death...but don't ACTUALLY hurt me...".
After several other random things that cropped up this week to challenge me with this concept, today was just like a 2X4 to the head. I receive a daily email devotional and guess what today's was...the title - "How God Uses Pain". (Uh, hellooooo??? Yes, God, hearing you...loud and clear!) This was the first paragraph:
So...okay, okay. I may be thick, but I think I'm getting it. Don't get me wrong...I don't have a perspective of an angry God sitting and just waiting to whack me with something, or getting ticked that I am a whiney-baby who just doesn't 'get it'. No, I think he's a Good Father, who, like I often do with my boys, sometimes chooses to hang back a bit and lets some things take their course, knowing full well that doing so might bring some short-term conflict, discomfort, yes - even pain - but will help them (me) learn an invaluable lesson and build character. Oh, yes...He's a very Good Father that way.
God will use pain in order to create a love relationship with His creation. This statement may challenge your theology. However, consider that God allowed Jesus to experience incredible pain in order to create an opportunity to have a relationship with His creation. Consider how Jesus created a relationship with Paul. He blinded him and used a crisis in his life in order to bring him into a relationship with him and use him for God's purposes. Consider how God recruited Jonah for the mission He had for him.
And so, I'm learning. And wondering a bit why God is bringing this so clearly to my mind...because I don't necessarily have any big 'pain' situations going on right now. I will say this...I'm humbled and aware and asking God to help me 'get' things without having to experience the pain if at all possible. ('Cause, yeah...I'm a baby that way!) But if not, I'm asking him to just bring this week back to my mind and give me the grace to say "Your grace is sufficient...".