“The faith that is born in the light is often developed in the dark”- Adrian Rogers
What do we, children of God, do when the lights go out & darkness, despair, fear, loneliness, sorrow wakes us up in the middle of the night & hits us like a ton of bricks? When nothing around us makes sense… do we question God? Do we find ourselves asking why? And if so, is it wrong to do so?
No, it’s not. But the better question is how. The former question might never be answered; the latter will, if & when we ask diligently. Yet, in the midst of our sorrow most of us tend to tell ourselves, “My pain would be more bearable if I only knew why!” So then, why isn’t God eager to answer the why? I believe pain has a divine purpose, for it takes center stage in the drama of our spiritual growth & emotional maturity.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”- Matthew 16:24
Ergo, to follow Christ without bearing our cross is impossible. If we choose to follow Him & let go of our cross, what we are really following is our own will disguised by His will. But what is ‘our cross’ exactly? I’m going to take a shot & say it’s letting go of our ego which is to – deny oneself.
“A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.”- Unknown
Jesus never promised life would be easy, He just said that in Him it’d be worthwhile. If we try to free ourselves from pain, discomfort, inconvenience all the time, at all costs we start to gravitate towards ourselves & therefore begin to lose our purpose, the purpose of that which we are created for. Matthew 16:24 refers to a calling for absolute surrender to Him; surrender of our will, our wants, our needs, our minds, our hearts… to His will. When all is well in our lives, this becomes smooth sailing. Our real commitment & true character manifest when troubles arise. And they will.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”- John 16:33
Mind you, this world is not meant to be all tragedy & sorrow. Absolutely not! If so, what would be the purpose of it all. The real tragedy arises when we do not fulfill the purpose for which we are created & choose to do as we will, thus sorrow will follow.
Allow me to illustrate the ‘purpose of our creation’ in this little story:
A man walks into a gadget store & immediately becomes surrounded by all sorts of gadgets big & small, nice & plain, soft & hard, colorful & pale, etc. He feels curious & starts looking for the one that appeals to him the most. He then says to the clerk (who happens to be the gadgets’ owner & creator) “I want to buy this nifty looking gadget, it seems multi-purpose”, “Very well,” said the clerk “I’ll wrap it up for you, the manual is in the box.” So the guy goes home, unwraps the item & dazzles by its beauty & immediately proceeds to use it in all the ways it seems useful. But forgets to read the manual. He, then gets angry because the gadget seems not to accomplish its ‘multi-purposes’ or so he thought. And storms his way into the clerk’s store & begins rambling about the ‘useless’ gadget. The clerk patiently let’s him finish & asks “Did you, by any chance, read the manual?”, “Uh, no,” said the gentleman “Ah, very well then, read it & come back,” said the clerk. Off he went to read the manual & returned to offer the clerk an apology. “Had I not read the manual, like you told me, I would’ve never used this amazing gadget to its fullest potential.” The clerk just smiled.
Guess who’s the gadget? Yep, you got it, it’s you! And God is the clerk/owner/creator. Our life’s purpose will only be fulfilled if we read our manual (The Bible) & trust our creator by surrendering to His will. The guy who bought the gadget is our will. By living our lives however we choose to, not taking into account our Manual, we are not using our lives proficiently thus, become angry (at God) for feeling so empty or useless.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”- Jeremiah 29:11
On our own & without pain, we would never unravel our purpose in life, for we need to put in the backseat our ever so present, invasive ill-disposed ego. God wants us to live out the best versions of ourselves & uses pain to catapult us towards that direction. If, we so choose to. We get to decide the direction we want our pain to lead us, it’s either up or down. But it leaves us never ever the same than before. Bar none.
We’re never alone in the depths of our sorrow, our silver lining comes from the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. God’s Spirit prays with & for us, that which God is pleased to answer, for our own enlightenment, which is always in alignment to His perfect purpose.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”- Romans 8:26
God is capable of changing all circumstances in our favor. But God is seldom in the business of making us happy. He wants to fulfill His purpose in our lives so we can truly thrive in this world & the next. For in the light that shines out of darkness lies the things we could not understand otherwise.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”- 2 Corinthians 4:6