Ah, For a Trouble-Free Life
September 30, 2015
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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.
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Thanks, Louis, for your article dealing with the troubles of life. You suggest that people “cherish the notion of a trouble free life.” I think the reality, on the street and in the church, is that people cherish the notion of a life full of trouble. People would rather think and talk about their troubles rather than focusing on the good in their lives.
I agree that everyone experiences “troubles” of one sort or another. And certainly some people experience a greater amount or degree of troubles than others. But I would also suggest that most people, if not all people, also experience good things, even great things. A person experiencing cancer may have a loving spouse, have a secure home, have a close friend, know a caring server at the local coffee shop, have a choice of two or three pairs of shoes or dresses to wear in the morning, had the opportunity to eat three square meals a day and maybe even to indulge in a snack in the evening, have a television or radio to watch a great TV show in the evening or listen to some uplifting music, feel the reality of God in one’s life and world, etc. etc. The list of good things, I would suggest, far outweighs the few troubling things, for the well healed as well as the not so well healed.
But still, many, if not most people, want to focus on the negative. Why not recognize the good things and people and give thanks or thank them personally on a regular, even daily basis. And soon such people (who are experiencing trouble) will regain some balance or maybe even become giddy because life is so good. Rather than thinking (along with many Christians) that we live in a terrible hell bound world, realize that the our world is a wonderful place and a wonderful gift from God.
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