Donning a look of deep concern, my counselor fixed his eyes on mine and said, “With everything you have been through over the past two years, I am amazed that you are still sane.” Sometimes life astonishes us with its ability to inflict pain.
During a keynote address at the 2019 West Coast Christian Writers Conference, Bill Giovanneti said “The world is a morally broken pain machine.” Adding emphasis to his point, he made the same statement twice, about ten minutes apart. Everyone reading this knows the truth of Bill’s words.
In our egocentric lust for money, sex, and power, the human race has an appalling capacity for using and abusing others with absolute disregard. We form an emotional callous to the needs of all but ourselves, convinced that our needs and our comforts are paramount. It is sociopathic, and it is not the life to which God has called us.
Such has been the story of humanity since the day Cain killed Abel. But the Christ-follower knows God’s history of turning horror into glory, and secure in that knowledge, we refuse to stay paralyzed in the role of a victim. “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6, ESV)
Joseph’s brothers, in their hatred and jealousy, sold him into slavery. God used Joseph to “save many lives” from seven years of famine. The Persian official, Haman, hated the Jew, Mordecai, and in his rage toward Mordecai attempted to annihilate the entirety of the Jewish people. But God turned circumstances on their head, exalting Mordecai and humiliating Haman.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were to be burned to death in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. Daniel was to be devoured by lions for refusing to pray to Darius. Jeremiah was to be drowned in a well because Zedekiah’s court officials disliked his prophecies. Jesus was to be beaten, crucified, dead, and buried forever.
None of these succeeded!
God has other plans, and in those plans, the wrath of humanity is turned to the praise of God. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise you.” (Psalm 76:10a, ESV) The more God’s enemies rage against him and his people, the more their plans are turned to frustration because we will not be defeated, and in this, God is glorified.
I am not proposing that life is without pain and trouble. The Word of God never promises that – indeed it promises quite the opposite. What I am saying is that, as we walk faithfully with Jesus, the troubles of life do not defeat us, and that the wrath of humanity can never ultimately prevail against us. We are “super-conquerors” in Christ! (Romans 8:37) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God and who are called according to his purposes. (Romans 8:28)
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. – 2 Corinthians 4:17, ESV
As Christ-followers, we intentionally pay no mind to the momentary bitterness life dishes out to us. Rather, we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) It is he who will bind up our wounds and comfort our sorrows.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor. – Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV-1978