Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Good News for Grumps

"... you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy." - Jesus to Peter and Co.

The way of the cross is not very attractive or exciting is it? When Jesus is preparing his disciples he warns them of the sorrow they will feel, the bitter bereavement of their dear friend and teacher. Of course he knew it didn't end there.

I get stuck in the present all the time. Or the past. Or the fear of the future. I can't seem to see the forest for the dang trees that keep poking me in the eyes. Life doesn't fit into my itinerary. If only it would get with my program. No matter how hard I try, it simply doesn't.

So more often than not, I walk around grumpy. I don't think of myself as an Eor, but I can certainly relate.

That's why it is so encouraging to hear that I don't hold the good cards in the poker game of life. God does, and yes I just "metophorized" God playing poker. I feel so hip and edgy!

But in the simple verse above I know that God is saying something to us today that really applies to our troubles and sorrows. Jesus knew that his great trouble, or excruciating ordeal on the cross, would bring about the world's only joy. I believe we need to think on that. There are so many implications.

One implication is that as we find sorrows, death and miseries honing in on us in the game of life, we can have the same confidence that Christ had. Our suffering will produce eternal joy not only for us but for the world. And not just for our enemies who mock. The Bible says their scoffing mouths will be silenced.

I don't know how God does it. It has something to do with Resurrection - the grand reversal of sinful reality and renewal of all that is good. "Explain that Phil." "No thanks!"

I have a lot of friends right now that are in the hole. And the walls around them are so high they can barely see the light of hope peeking in from the top. Many have brought their suffering on themselves. Many have been gravely persecuted. Many are simply at a loss when looking at their real selves. They cry for rescue with hoarse voices that are bitter and tired of crying.

But who am I to share about these folks? Honestly, my life is pretty cushy. I don't know real suffering on a daily basis. But I do know some of suffering, and to know that there's a purpose and to hear Jesus say, "A glorious purpose" to our suffering is very, very encouraging. Our real suffering (real bad) will bring about real joy (real good)!

Then this begs the question, "How should we approach our suffering?" I think we should enter into ours' and other's with bedrock hope in God. With full assurance that the Gospel is really good for our really hurting world. And that while we don't have the answers, our God does.

If you're facing a trial, don't take trite answers as your hope. Take the real person/God of Jesus as your hope. Not in the sense that this trial will draw you closer to Christ in some sort of lovey-dovey way but in reality. And you can know the mysterious reality that suffering, well-suffered with Jesus, brings about the joy of the world.

Regardless whether this suffering is brought on by your own sin, others or is simply "happenstance," you can have full confidence in this God of ours' who works rescue, joy and healing out of the darkest corners of our world. May we be known as people who suffer well, for we know our God well.

Also know that now that I've written this, I'll be a little jumpy for the next few days. I may be looking for big zaps from the sky. So don't say "Boo" when you see this grumbling Eor around. Be kind.

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