Friday, January 16, 2009

Real Life

I have decided that real life takes courage mixed with a good dose of humility. I am finally beginning to understand what Paul meant in his letter to the Philippians: "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21) In the next few verses, Paul explains his struggle with wanting to leave this earth and wanting to stay on to help the early Christians in their faith. As a teenager, the verse befuddled me, 'Why would anyone think it was better to die than to stay on and fight the good fight?' But as an adult, I began to understand that this life is indeed a battle. Jesus' promises to be our peace, our strength, our sufficiency has taken on a keener necessity.

Life is beautiful. After all Paul exhorts us in chapter 4 of Philippians to think on all the wonderful things there are in this life. However there is no doubt that life is also ugly, an ugliness that Paul experienced regularly (II Corinthians 11:23-33) For all our science and conveniences, for all the claims of "social evolution," there is still the problem of pain, of tragedies, of the unexpected. There was a time I'd rather believe that some things were outside of God's control because of our free will and fallen state. But in dealing with recent grief, loss, and disappointments over the last few years, I find it terrifying to think that He might not be in control. I'd rather believe He's sovereign and permits things I don't understand, than to believe He's weak and incapable of keeping the whole world in His hands.

Jesus overcame the world, and we have nothing to fear. That doesn't mean we won't experience hardships. The mother who loses her baby will tell you that the pain of that loss is excruciating. However, when her grieving is done, she will find that through Christ she doesn't need to be afraid. With faith all things are possible, even the courage to live in the face of adversity. In order to think on Paul's list of good things, we need the strength to look for them. I know I'm too weak to do so on my own. I humbly have to tell the Lord I simply can't live real life without Him. And upon confessing this weakness of mine, true to His word, He gives strength and courage.

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