We like control. We crave control. Our first reaction when life starts to spin is find a way to fix it. Control. Manage it. Control. And when we can’t fix it, and can’t manage it, we block it out and begin to focus on what we can control in the moment (or at least, what we think we’re controlling).
I have discovered that God doesn’t just “allow” pain – he uses it, on purpose, in each and every one of us. There are some lessons that cannot be learned through ease and comfort. And there are some things we’ll never change, some sin we’ll never forsake, until God uses pain to get our attention. Therefore, pain is not just inevitable; it is necessary.
Our response to pain reveals what we truly believe about God.
They all ran. For all the same reason. Sin.
They ran from the consequences of their sin.
They ran into the arms of sin.
And they left a trail of destruction behind them.
[Excerpt] Divorce begins before a couple is even married. Before a man and woman even exchange vows and rings, most marriages are already in decline. By the time a couple reaches the alter, they’ve already begun to take each other for granted, they’ve already begun to think marriage is going to make them (and keep them) happy. They already believe that it will be easy and effortless, that it will finally complete them. But these are all lies.
Marriage is hard, and a good marriage is even harder.
[Excerpt] We just learned the importance of submission in marriage, and the responsibility a wife has to encourage, bless, and benefit her husband. But what about the exceptions, those cases where a husband is abusive, passive, or just plain ol’ dumb?
[EXCERPT] Did you know that the average evangelical Christian spends only 3 minutes a day in prayer? And evangelical pastors spend 5. There is something very wrong with this.
I think it’s worthwhile to note that there’s a reason prayer and Bible study are called spiritual disciplines. The first is that they are the most spiritual things you can do – and prayer is THE most spiritual thing you can do. Secondly, consider the meaning of the word discipline: “training to act in accordance with rules; drill.” I think we can all agree that training and drills are challenging – and that’s the point. Our time spent in spiritual discipline is training us, equipping us, and making us strong and competent for the troubles ahead – regardless if those trouble are the daily pressures we face or a major trial that may be around the corner.
[EXCERPT] How did Jesus know what to do? The Father told him.
How did Jesus know where to go? The Father told him.
How did Jesus know what to say? The Father told him.
How did Jesus know when His time was up? He had finished the work His Father gave him.
You know what we don’t see in Jesus’ example? We don’t see Jesus being reactionary to the people around him. He doesn’t do what the people ask him to; in fact, there are many times when he did the opposite. The people wanted him to stay, and he left. The people wanted him to perform miracles, and he refused. Why would he do this? Because He was getting direction from His Father. It didn’t matter what people said or did to Him, because His purpose and identity were tied to His father, not his friends, family, peers, or enemies.
[EXCERPT] I’ve heard people comment that they feel like they’re already experiencing Hell here on earth. And to a point, I believe they are. But it’s only a taste… a foreshadowing. Covered up, but never warm. Never quite making out shapes or figures. Always waiting… but afraid of the light — or rather, what the light will expose. So we hide in fear, afraid to let anyone near, afraid to be real, afraid to be honest. We play the game and as a result become angry, anxious, or depressed.
But then suddenly, the pain of being in the darkness reaches a breaking point. We get tired of being controlled by fear, by the darkness. Suddenly the fear of the light isn’t as strong. Because with the light comes hope. We don’t have play a game any longer. We can just be real. Honest. To be us.
So we come to Jesus – we step out of the darkness and into the light. We let him see us as we are… in all our filth. And we let him wash us clean, and in response we follow Him in the light for the rest of our days. We’re now free.