I asked a social worker: “What is your working life mostly about?” “Trouble”, she said. Later, when I thought of that little encounter, I wished I could have pursued that short conversation. “Trouble...”
Must we always face trouble? Must the hours of our days always exist of solving small and big problems? Somewhere, in a small corner of our hearts, we keep cherishing the notion of a trouble-free life.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, never friendly toward the Christian religion, proposed to deal courageously with trouble. Said he, “Never rebel against fate, give up your resistance, accept the inevitable, learn to love what you hate, lest you bring yourself to ruin.” The German evangelical pastor, Helmuth Thielike, took issue with his country-man and wrote, “Such advice is like saying to a drowning person, ‘Stop the excitement, accept the water, learn to love your lot.’” And, indeed, the Bible itself nowhere belittles the reality of the human predicament. The Apostle Paul wrote in II Corinthians 4:8, “We are troubled on every side…” And in 7:5, “…we are harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within.”
Now we are stewards of our lives and so, yes, we devote ourselves to solving our problems. But for Paul problems had a deeper component. In 4:10 Paul tells us that trials reminded him of the suffering of Jesus. And when Paul mentioned Jesus’ suffering he mostly also referred to His victory over sin: “… so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (verse 11). Paul connected the struggles of life with the cross of Jesus but also with His resurrection.
Ah, for a trouble-free life … But far greater should be our longing for a grace-filled life. We are people of hope. In the darkest valleys of life we will discover Jesus. Paul is detailed: “the FACE of Jesus…!” Can you think of a greater privilege? Those of your loved ones who went before you, they may have seen the face of Jesus hours before they entered Heaven.
For centuries people have heard the gospel. For centuries they have pondered on the meaning of pain and suffering. We will never fully understand on this side of the grave. We will never overcome the pain of pain. But we will find a glimmer of light in the ‘why’. For in the darkness of pain and suffering we have been promised the light of the Savior’s resurrection. That is really a most wonderful gift.