If we know that Jesus’ mission statement in life was to give us a life of abundance and that he fulfilled this mission by giving His life on the cross for us – then why do we still go through so much crap? “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is far too complex for one answer; so, I’ll give you two.
LIFE HAS CAUSE & EFFECT
This is going to be a hard pill to swallow, so prepare yourself. Most of the harmful stuff that happens in your life is a product of your decisions; not “the enemy”. Keep reading though! I promise, it gets better.
Science has proven that “with every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction.” This is known as the Law of Cause and Effect. Basically, it’s a spiritual version of Newton’s 3rd Law. Most people would call that karma, but we would consider it to be reaping what you sow.
In Galatians 6:7-10, Paul teaches the church:
“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.
After you read that, please don’t confuse the consequences of your actions with the loss of your salvation. When you gave your life to Christ, you were saved, and no mistakes you make can take that from you. This just explains why some of the adversities in life, that just don’t seem fair, happen to you.
So, what about the rest of the stuff? What if you walk through life treating people well, working hard, studying your Bible, tithing, attending church on Sunday and going to mid-week groups – and life still gives you a punch in the face sometimes?
This is the hard part to understand, and honestly, I still can’t quite grasp it:
THERE’S PURPOSE IN YOUR PAIN
I’m not going to begin to even attempt to understand the will of God. But I do know that some harmful stuff has happened to some pretty good people – and ultimately it always served a greater purpose. For example, let’s go way back: All the remaining apostles were murdered by crucifixion, beheading, stabbed or stoning, except for John, who was poisoned and sentenced to exile. Did they deserve it? Absolutely not. But their pain clearly served a purpose.
Okay, that’s a super duper old example, so here’s another one: Ever heard of Morse Code? The form of communication that helped us win the Civil War, and eventually led to the telephone, then the internet and now the smart phone you are probably reading this from.
Related Post: Pain fades, love remains, joy returns.
Samuel Morse, the inventor of Morse Code, used to be a painter. In February of 1825, Morse was in Washington D.C. working on a painting that might finally put him on the map. While away, he received a letter from his father:
“My heart is in pain and deeply sorrowful. While I announce to you the sudden and unexpected death of your dear and deservedly loved wife.”
His wife, Lucretia, had died a few days earlier of an apparent heart attack while recovering from childbirth. By the time he got this letter, not only had he missed his wife’s death, but he missed her funeral. Imagine the pain. Samuel Morse spent the next 19 years working on creating a form of communication that would prevent anyone else from having to experience the pain he did. Did Morse deserve it? No. But his pain served a purpose, and now the world is forever changed. We think Steve Jobs is a legend, but without Morse code, there is no iPhone.
HOW ABOUT ONE MORE EXAMPLE? YOU!
I’m sure you’ve experienced, or are experiencing, some things in your life that you would bet on everything you know and love – that you just don’t deserve. In 2 Corinthians 1:4-7, Paul says:
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
If you’re going through hell right now, take heart that there is purpose in your pain and on the other side of this season is going to be an opportunity not only for you to be blessed, but for you to bless others as well.
SO HOW DO WE RESPOND
- First and foremost, ask for forgiveness. The act of repentance allows you to experience God’s love. It allows you to experience the abundant life that Jesus died for on a whole new level. If you have the opportunity, and if it’s appropriate, reach out to the people you’ve wronged and make it right.
- Love others. Treat people the way that you’d like to be treated. Be kind and generous. Use your words to lift people up, not break them down. Jesus explains to the cunning Pharisee that the way to eternal life is to love God, and to love people. The Bible defines love this way:
- Work hard. Because nothing good in life comes easy, and prayer only works if you do.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV
WE ALL STRUGGLE IN LIFE
To be honest, I struggled to write this. Not because I think I’ll offend some people, or because I don’t think I’m a good writer, but because it is still so hard to understand. If you know me, you may look at my life through the filter of my social media. You may see my positive presence in public, and think that I’ve got it made. Although I’m extremely blessed, most of my life has been a series of pain and adversity. Pain that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. This is largely as an effect of my choices as a young adult. But I also believe that God allows me to endure trials to be blessed with the strength, endurance and wisdom to help others along the way. I believe it’d be a sin for me not to share in hopes of encouraging someone else; like you.