Christians sometimes wonder why they have to suffer so much. And there are a whole flock of people making a good living convincing them that they don’t have to, that they should have everything they want, if they only had “faith.”
Dear friends, some of you are suffering things I can’t begin to imagine. Over the Labor Day weekend, my wife and I went to visit a dear, dear sister who was recently diagnosed with ALS, after a lifetime of suffering with lupus, among other things. I think she blessed us with her cheerful spirit more than we blessed her. I can not imagine being completely unable to do ANYTHING for yourself, but having to depend on others for EVERYTHING, though, thankfully, she can still talk – and smile and laugh.
So, why suffering?
If we could imagine a block of stone suddenly finding its voice, we might hear something like the following:
“Oh, why all this hammering and cutting on me? This chipping and sanding and buffing? Why me?”
The artist replies, “Be patient. There’s a beautiful statue inside you.”
Of course, there is a considerable difference between a block of stone and a human being. The stone is sometimes better at being a stone than we are at being human. The stone doesn’t fight the sculptor, nor try to make something else beside what the sculptor wants. And the stone is inanimate, without will or emotions or intellect. It is just a stone. It just sits there.
There’s another difference, too. There’s no “beautiful statue” inside us just waiting to be let out. Oh, I know. People talk about “the divine spark” in us that just needs a little fanning to burst into a brilliant blaze. They talk about “human potential,” as if there’s some god-like ability within ourselves to make something of ourselves. And there is a certain amount of truth to that, though we’re not at all “godlike.” There are some who rise to heights of amazing heroism. Alas, though, there are others who sink to depths of unbelievable barbarism and wickedness. Some of us are “devil-like.”
Most of us can probably, at least to our own satisfaction, find someone whom we believe is worse than we are. And we might be right.
The problem is, compared to Jesus, we’re all worse.
God has nothing to “work with.”
He doesn’t come to us and fix us up a little bit. He doesn’t just slap on a new coat of paint or put down a new carpet. He makes us a “new creation.” As in the original creation, He started with nothing, so in the new creation, He starts with nothing.
But “in Him,” we have everything.
And He will finish what He started. He chips, and cuts and hammers and buffs and polishes to get rid of what we are in order that we might see a little of what we are to become.
Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, 1 John 3:2.