So as I’ve been saying, my life has been entirely insane lately. At least, that’s what I thought.
With pressure coming from every angle and no light at the end of the tunnel, I have been in a deep struggle with my heart for the last couple months… and the trials keep pouring in, adding one atop another until they have created a waterfall, majestic from a distance, but deathly powerful up close. But I have come to realize that, though compared to the culture around us these days I have it rough, compared to most Christians throughout history and even in other parts of the world today, I have it easy! My life may seem tough with financial, church community, etc. etc. trouble, but if you compare it to just about any of the main characters from the Bible I have nothing to whine about.
One example would be Noah. We all know the story of Noah’s Ark. But have you ever considered putting yourself in his shoes? Not only are you surrounded by evil (ie murder, beating, stealing, lying, cheating, etc etc etc), but then you are told to build this giant ark to save you from a flood… in the middle of the desert. Your neighbors, friends, and even your own family claim you a crazy fool. Then, once the flood begins and you are closed up tight, you must bear witness to the biggest natural catastrophe in history. You hear the cries of every living creature, watch the home you built, the places you grew up in, and everyone you’ve ever known besides your own family be torn, changed, washed away, and killed. You then spend 11 months trapped in this boat-which most likely started to stink of animal and human feces after the first day, and after the first couple days the smell of the dead bodies would have enveloped the boat as well-with a bunch of wild animals, and your family members. Imagine being trapped in an enclosed space with your family for over a year, with no escape route! When at last you are let free, you enter into an entirely different world. And you are all alone. But somehow, you can still worship God! But there are more examples.
Another is Joseph. Everyone knows this story as well. He was the youngest, and obvious favorite of his parents, in a family of 12 (including him). After he spied on his brothers as they watched their fathers herd of sheep, they threw him into a pit. His own family sold him into slavery! He then traveled miles and miles across the desert. When at last he reached Egypt, he was bought by Potiphar, the Pharaoh’s Captain of the Guard. But the Lord blessed everything he did, and Potiphar saw this. He would have entrusted his life to Joseph. But then Potiphar’s wife, after many unsuccessful attempts to seduce him, she got him into trouble with his master. He was thrown into the prison there, surrounded by bad people and the worst of conditions. But even there, the Lord blessed his handiwork. After living there for TWO YEARS, having been forgotten by a servant of Pharaoh’s, he was finally summoned by the Pharaoh to interpret his dreams.
He did this job to such satisfaction that the Pharaoh gave him the highest position of honor other than his own, placed his signet ring (which was how the Pharaoh would sign laws. Nothing was more powerful than this.) onto Joseph’s finger. A series of events occurred, in which Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt for grain in the famine. They did not recognize their long-lost and suspected-dead brother. He found out about a full brother that had been born, Benjamin. He was told that his mother had died, and his father was in bad health. Eventually, God used him to save the entire nation, and through his line of descendants, our Savior was born.
Yet another example is Job. For centuries, people have looked to the book of Job for comfort in hard times. Job was a man of God, with a strong faith. The Lord allowed Satan to test Job. The only exception to this testing was the Devil could not take his life. Job lost everything. His wife, his children, his belongings, his health, everything. Shortly after, his 3 friends came to “comfort” him. In reality, they only heaped coals on his head and made him even more miserable. But yet again, we see that Job not only did not curse God’s name, but in Job 1:20, immediately after he has been informed of the great tragedies that befell him, we read that “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” How could that possibly be? This man has just been thrust into hell on earth, and he is worshiping!
In the New Testament, we find a whole new set of trials. For centuries, the people of God were persecuted for their faith. Stephen was stoned to death for refusing to renounce his faith. John the baptist was beheaded for preaching the gospel. The main author of the NT, Paul, was beaten nearly to death numerous times, run out of town again and again, imprisoned, the list goes on and on. But every single one of these men were not just bearing this pain. They were worshipful, happy even! They continued to push the message of the gospel forward. Upon them, the foundation of Christianity was laid.
After Bible times, there were hundreds of thousands of martyrs who died protecting and encouraging their faith. Every single one of them died willingly, ready to meet their God. (I have not listed any for the sake of time, but all you have to do to find a couple of the stories that actually have been told is look up “martyr” on Google.)
We here in America have it amazingly easy. And yet, we complain more then any of the others. When we experience a slight trial, or in some cases a couple of slight trials one atop the other, we get mad. We blame God, we blame each other, we second guess our faith, etc. We have become, forgive me, terrible witnesses of Jesus Christ. Really, compared to decades past, our lives are about as easy as they come.
Now, you fellow Christians out there are probably thinking, “Um, CCG, you are kinda leaving out the MOST IMPORTANT MARTYR EVER TO WALK THE FACE OF THIS EARTH!” right? Well, I’m not. See, this is where the truth of Christianity shows. God allowed his own Son, Jesus Christ, to be tortured and murdered for us. We who think that we’ve known suffering, us prideful, self-righteous “people of God”, often overlook the greatest sacrifice ever made. Jesus led a perfect life. Not a “good” life, a perfect one. He faced every trial, every temptation, everything we have experienced and more, and yet He remained sinless. But He offered himself up, gave his own life. He suffered a more gruesome and painful death then anyone nowadays can even imagine. But that is not the worst part. He faced the full wrath of God. His own Father turned His face away. No one has had to face this terrible truth. There is nothing, NOTHING worse than this pain. And He did it for us. He paved the way for us to be with our Heavenly Father for all eternity.
Now, what do we, in full honesty, have to complain about? A couple of temporary trials? Our sinful hearts try to hide this truth from us in our pain. But, unlike the movies from Hollywood would tell you, we must ignore our hearts lies and run to Him, the One who gave it all for us. For only in Him can we possibly find peace and rest forevermore.