Written by Craig Denison
I used to think life with God was all peaches and cream. I thought that if I could just follow him perfectly, he would only ever lead me to circumstances that were wonderful and heavenly. I knew the disciples suffered, but those were different times right? I knew people in other more hostile countries suffered, but that's on the other side of the world! Then last week happened.
Do you ever have one of those weeks where everything just seems to go wrong? Do you have times where you pray and pray and it seems like things get worse instead of better? And while you know in your mind God is there it certainly feels like he couldn't be farther away?
Last week I learned that no matter how intently I desire to follow God, no matter how much I pray and have faith for miracles-- bad things still happen. Last week I discovered that if the Son of Man, the only one deserving of a life free from the effects of the fall, had to suffer, I absolutely will experience suffering. The Bible never says that suffering ended for humanity with Jesus' death, but that we now had access to the Father, our source of hope in the midst of suffering. The Bible never promises us that God will miraculously make every bad situation good as we would define it, but that he will redeem everything he allows.
In the midst of suffering I discovered that placing hope in the world only leads to turmoil, while placing hope in he who is steadfast provides life even in the midst of death. I learned that God is faithful not because my circumstances are perfect, but because he meets me and loves me in the good times and the bad. And I learned that his loving presence is better, more sure and far more powerful than anything this world could offer or take away.
Isaiah 54:10 says, "For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed." When the mountains and the hills seem to be crashing down around you, there is hope in the steadfast love of your God. When everything seems to turn from bad to worse, you serve a God who meets you in the midst of it all. And while we might experience suffering here, know that it is only for a short while. God is right now preparing a place for us where death, mourning, crying and pain have passed away and eternal, unhindered relationship with love himself awaits.
I used to just want peaches and cream. I used to try and build my own perfect little world. Now I'd rather waste my life at the feet of Jesus, the one who meets me, cries with me, screams with me, hurts with me, and at the end of it all picks me up to live another day. May all our hope be in him alone.
"Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." -Hebrews 2:17-18