Principle #4: The Christian life was not supposed to be easy, so stop complaining.
A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master…Matthew 10:24.
If Jesus suffered, so will I. If Jesus suffered well, so must I.
I must be kind, I must be honest, I must be humble, I must be truthful. I have been bought with a price1Corinthians 7:23. If I am a servant, what right have I to question what the King allows to come my way?
When I first started to write this, I was thinking of the puny, whiny complaints we issue every day through our rich, free, relatively easy Western life—buddy cut in front of me on the boulevard, so-and-so irritated me at church; the cashier called me ‘dear’ even though it’s condescending, the smelly guy butted in line, my rusty, 10-year-old van is embarrassing, I can’t buy the big screen TV because I’m not getting a tax refund this year; I’m irritated at my boss, I hate winter…
Or maybe your complaints are a bit more justified (but still kind of whiny): You’ve been betrayed and mistreated: Peter lied about you, Paul believed a lie about you, Mary won’t listen to the truth, Joan has ruined your reputation, and Bob doesn’t care. In fact, Jimi will never speak to you again. You lost your job unfairly, you got kicked off the team, your dream of being a published author will never be realized, you have a flood in your basement, you need a new washer and dryer and you can’t afford one…(insert whine here.)
These are feeble troubles compared to those felt by Christians in Muslim, Communist or radical Hindu countries which persecute their Christian minorities every day, all over the world. They lose their jobs, their families, their churches are burned. Both pastors and laymen are imprisoned, beaten, tortured, or killed. I’ve been a Christian for 20 years…I know the part where Jesus said we would have trouble in the world (John 16:33.) But the culture of entitlement that soaks my society blurs the ramifications of His words before my eyes.
I’ve gotten sick, you see. And I don’t know what it is. I know it’s not life-threatening, but my symptoms are chronic and debilitating. I’ve been dealing with it for 1-1/2 years, and I’m still waiting for a diagnosis. I think I know what it is, but the doctor is not yet convinced, and when he is, I don’t know if there’s anything he can do about it. I have to wait up to a year for one final test at my city’s hospital to determine what it is (give a cheer for Canadian healthcare.) In the meantime, I am truly miserable, and as I reread these few paragraphs I wrote more than two years ago I see I have much more to learn.
I have learned to believe that the disappointments of my life will be used by God to make me grow more like him…more humble, sweeter, more pliable–but illness is a whole new frontier for me. In the midst of a chronic attack, I must praise God, worship Him and pray for others. I can’t back down. I can’t let Satan discourage me. I can’t let Him win…well, I can, but I’m not supposed to. “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved,” Hebrews 10:39.
What is joy? Is it happiness? No, joy is not happiness, especially not while we suffer. I think joy is defined as the choice to be grateful, the choice to be thankful. We have cause to be thankful, regardless of our sufferings! Jesus died for our salvation, and He’s coming soon! From now, ‘til all eternity, we will be in His presence because of His death on the cross. How marvellous! And my choice to worship and praise Him, and pray for others in the midst of trial is sweeter to God because He sees the choice I’ve made.
Do not think for a moment that I am not praying for God to heal me. Oh yes, I pray for that–every moment of every day. And you know, I believe He will. But until that time, I must suffer well, because I am a servant.