“Life is difficult.
This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a
great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend
it. Once we truly know that life is difficult—once we
truly understand and accept it—then life is no longer difficult.
Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is
difficult no longer matters.” M. Scott Peck, The Road Less
Life is difficult. It is one of the great truths of the
Christian faith. Jesus never promised His disciples a life
of ease, comfort, and happiness. He promised instead
that they would be hated and persecuted because of their
faith in Him. He promised trials and troubles in this
world. We should not expect to have a life filled only
with blessings and joy.
Another great truth is that this world is not our home.
We are just passing through. God did not intend that we
settle in and find contentment here and now. He placed
within us a deep dissatisfaction with the things of this
world. Max Lucado puts it this way: “Unhappiness on
earth cultivates a hunger for heaven. By gracing us with
a deep dissatisfaction, God holds our attention. The only
tragedy, then, is to be satisfied prematurely. To settle for
earth. To be content in a strange land….
We are not happy here because we are not at home
here. We are not happy here because we are not supposed
to be happy here. We are ‘like foreigners and
strangers in the world’ (I Peter 2:11)…
And you will never be completely happy on earth
simply because you were not made for earth. Oh, you
will have your moments of joy. You will catch glimpses
of light. You will know moments or even days of peace.
But they simply do not compare with the happiness that
lies ahead.” Max Lucado, When God Whispers Your Name
2018 was a difficult year for Mary and me. We both
lost brothers to pancreatic cancer. The pain of loss and
the ongoing grief have hit us hard. We have felt the
Lord’s presence and blessing on the journey of loss and
grief, but it has still been hard. But I know that our troubles
pale in comparison to what many are going through
now and have experienced in the past.
We need to realize that in this life we will have trouble,
and when we realize that great fact we can be prepared
for it by relying on the One who suffered as no one
has ever suffered before. Jesus took the sins of every
human being who has ever lived, or will ever live, upon
Himself on the cross. He who was pure goodness
suffered the curse of becoming sin, but in doing so He overcame
the power of sin, evil, and death.
Jesus said to His disciples just before He died: “I have
told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I
have overcome the world.”
He who has overcome the world offers us not necessarily
happiness in this world. He offers us His peace.
We will know His blessings. We will experience times
of joy. We will be surprised by grace that lifts us up to
the very heights of heaven. But our true happiness lies
only in the life to come.
Thank God for the hope of heaven that Jesus has given
us through His death and resurrection. We take solace
in knowing that we will see our loved ones again and enjoy
their company throughout the rest of time in the life
that is yet to come. There will be great and lasting joy in
paradise, but in this life we will know trouble.
Most of you know the Serenity Prayer written by
Reinhold Neibuhr. But most people only know the first
part of the prayer. Let me quote it in full:
God grant me serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
Trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You in the next. Amen.
Grace and Peace,