There was a huge pile of football players who had made a tackle. To me it looked clean enough, but then a referee threw a flag. Once they got the players off the pile, I waited to hear the call, "5 yard penalty on the red team. Underneath the pile, giving him the business." That call was the first and only time I had ever heard it. I laughed till my sides split.You see, I knew what it was like to be given the business.Have you ever felt like you're at a bottom of a pile and life is giving you the business? I can assure you, even as though that call was only made once by any referee, it had happened many times before and would happen many times again. What I'm trying to say is, whatever is giving you the business right now, you can be assured that this is the norm of life and not the exception. Anyone who tells you different is full of bologna (why do we spell that word that way and pronounce in baloni?)
What does God tell us about suffering...er...getting the business...in life? Have you ever read Job 5:1-18? Verse 7 kind of sums it up..."man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward." (v. 7)
Here's some thoughts...
How do we, as Christians, cope with the problem of undeserved suffering? The main thing we must do is recognize that in a universe whose balance has been greatly upset by sin, this kind of suffering is bound to come. It is the norm and not the exception. It is because we live in a fallen world marred by sin. If you will face this, you are halfway to turning the problem into a possibility. When you are not willing to face it, it brings all kinds of misgivings into our life. Ever heard of nirvana? (The concept , not the band).
What you're about to read is for real, not some "preacher" story. Here's what happened to a child who was born into royalty. His parents decided to keep all signs of decay and death from him. When he was taken into the garden, maids were sent before him to remove all the decaying flowers and fallen leaves, so that he would be protected from all signs of suffering and death. One day, however, he left his home and, while wandering through the streets, came across a corpse. His reaction was so strong that he set about establishing the teaching that, as life is fundamentally suffering, the only thing to do is to escape into nirvana, the state of extinction of self. The young man was Guatama Buddha, whose beliefs are shared by millions of his followers around the world. His philosophy is a dramatic and tragic result of trying to protect oneself from the realities of life, one of which is suffering.
The Christian faith is the opposite of that: it exposes us to the very heart of suffering - the cross of Christ. It is the cross that takes suffering, and turns it into salvation. This is why Christians should not be afraid to face the worst that can happen - because with God it can be turned into the best.
If you'd like to pray for God's understanding, you might want to voice a prayer like this...
Father, I am so thankful for the cross - what is my suffering compared to that? And even if I have to bear similar suffering, I know that out of it will come to me what came to You - a resurrection. Blessed be Your Name, Jesus, forever. Amen.
If you want to study more about what the Bible has to say, you might want to read these Scriptures. They are as diverse as an Old Testament prophet, to our New Testament Savior, to a church leader letting the flock know that God understands the impact of our suffering. You see, our Lord also knows what it's like to hurt. He knows and cares. Remember, it's not over until we see Him.
Isa. 53; Luke 22:40; Heb. 2:9-10; 5:8; 8:1
My thanks to Selwyn Hughes who provided the thoughts for this enlightening devotion.