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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Good Times. Good Times.

Everybody hurts.  It’s such a cliché, a song was written about it.  We all share a common element in our lives: pain.  It’s no fun, and some of us seem to have more than others. 

Christians are taught to have faith when our world is rocked.  When a loved one dies, or we lose something dear, or we are threatened by illness, we are taught to believe that God will carry us through.  In these times, if we succeed in clinging to God’s promises and love, we find that our faith is strengthened and we grow closer to God. 

But what about when things are going just as they should, happy times and good things abounding?  When life is marked by a lack of worry, good health rules, and things go our way?  Does our faith inevitably falter or stall?  Are we less likely to grow with God by our side when things are humming merrily along - is it harder to acknowledge God’s presence?  Are we more likely to grow close to God after we've been rescued from the bottom of the pit by our Holy Savior? 

It is painful to hear about a sadness which seemingly has no good outcome.  Despair is the law of the land for some, having experienced tragedy after tragedy in their lives.  It just doesn’t make sense.  Why do some people seem to suffer over and over?  There are no answers, no resolutions to their pain.
Sometimes at the end of those sad stories are triumphs and unexplained events that right the wrongs.  These miracles could only have been done by God, Creator, Omnipotent King.  People are saved and blessed.  They move on, stronger than ever before.  They share their stories and implore others to have faith.  They quote Scripture:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV);  "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For you are with me" (Psalm 23:4, NKJV); “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NLT).  We rejoice with them and celebrate their victories, inspired to build our own relationships with God.
But there are also no explanations why others are not shot down with misery.  Why are they spared from tragedy?  What have I done that separates me from my neighbor’s trouble?  On the outside we look the same.  There is no reason why my life appears to be untouched while my friend always seems to struggle. 

The reality is that we do not get to know why some people seem to have more troubles than others.  In addition, we don’t always know what others are dealing with in their lives.  A seemingly charmed person’s struggle may be no big deal for me, though it knocks her to the ground on a daily basis.  Or maybe it is that he has had his share of pain and has suffered silently for years, and is now learning to trust God.  Or maybe a person really has been spared tragedy and is walking daily with the Lord, growing closer to him every day.   The reality is that none of these scenarios are more or less important to God.  Even though we might weight a sad story more for its dramatic value, the relationship is what God wants, no matter what we’ve been through. 

I think it is possible to grow closer to God in the absence of misery.  I know some people who have been doing it for years, and they have taught me that God is worthy of our most extravagant praise, no matter what.

Give thanks to God—he is good and his love never quits.  Say, "Save us, Savior God, round us up and get us out of these godless places, so we can give thanks to your holy name, and bask in your life of praise."  Blessed be God, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.  Then everybody said , "Yes!  Amen!" and "Praise God!"  1 Chronicles 16:34-36 (MSG) 

Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.  Psalm 106:1 (NLT) 

Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.  Isaiah 12:5 (NIV) 

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.  Ephesians 1:3 (NLT)

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