Thursday, February 2, 2012

Do You Know what’s Good for You?

I don’t. Yesterday, I was having a nightmarish time with my Google blog. I feel like it’s almost family – like my right arm. So when it’s not doing what I want it to do, I’m frustrated – even worse, I threw a bit of a tantrum.

What else can you do when you feel so helpless? There was no one to turn to – to make things right. Every screen was corrupted, unusable, and an affront to all of my sacred intentions. I was certain that the situation represented no less than a significant setback to all of my hopes and dreams.

I should know better. After all, I’m a Bible teacher who, for years, has told everyone else how to live their lives.

Upon returning home, my wife found a broken specimen of my former spiritual glory. Fortunately, Anita has more patience with the computer – even with my own program – than I have. So she started pushing a lot of buttons and found that Google’s screens had all changed because Google had installed a major update.

After a couple of hours and a lot of button-pushing, I saw once again what a fool I had been. The program was actually improved!

We too are improved by the most unlikely circumstances – even the things that feel like curses. The Apostle Paul wrote a lot about this apparent irony:

  • We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:3-5)
The Bible prepares us for this uncomfortable reality in so many ways. The ultimate example of this was the suffering of Jesus. Isaiah tells us:

  • Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he [Jesus] will see his [spiritual] offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied. (Isaiah 53:10-11)
“Satisfied?” How can anyone be satisfied with suffering? It’s not the suffering that should satisfy us but instead what is accomplished by the suffering. The verse continues:

  • By his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)
Jesus endured because He knew what His suffering would accomplish, and this principle - looking to the ultimate goal of the suffering – also pertains to us:

  • Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
My Google-directed tantrum hardly qualifies as suffering. However, even in the midst of this minor frustration, the same principle pertains – setting our focus on the bigger picture of what God is accomplishing, even in our worse circumstances.

This requires a certain humility of thought – a recognition that we don’t always know what’s best for us, but He does. Nevertheless, we’re convinced that if we hit the lotto - our material needs now satisfied – we’d then be happy and better able to serve our Lord. I was therefore surprised to read that the lotto winners turned out to be loosers. It wrecked their lives. They thought that they knew what was best for them, but they didn’t. In fact, we don’t even know what to pray for:

  • The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (Romans 8:26)
I’m still learning this lesson, however slowly, perhaps several tantrums away.






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