There are specific moments in time that are very vivid memories; when I recognized Christ as my Lord, when we were married, the births of our children and grandchildren, graduations, and my ordination. There are other not so happy events that stand out as well… a resignation, illnesses, family conflicts, and deaths. The thing that all of these have in common, regardless of good or bad, is each is surrounded by thousands upon thousands of other moments of hard work, pain, good choices and bad decisions, sacrifice, loss, tests, struggles, frustration, anxiety, fear, patience, forgiveness, healing, and wonder. The moments of pleasure in all of this are few and at best fleeting. The ‘I do’ of the wedding is engulfed in the time building and maintaining a relationship and the receiving of the diploma is swallowed up in hard work and implementation of achieving the degree and putting it into practice. All of this seems incredulous unless you grasp hold of the goal and purpose of our lives and the suffering contained within it.
God’s purpose is not to stop suffering or to simply save us from sin and hell. No, God’s purpose, and what gives meaning to our lives, is His bringing us to himself to enjoy a relationship. Peter writes, “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteousness, THAT He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). God is perfect Love, and is jealous that all men delight in Him. To do that, all men must be ‘made Holy as He is Holy’; therefore men require the forgiveness of sin, removal of the curse of God’s wrath towards sin, the defeat of death and Satan, deliverance from hell and everlasting despair, the resurrection of our bodies, healing from physical and mental illness, and passage into the new Heaven and Earth. These are all byproducts of God’s purpose and it is for this reason Paul describes our current state as, ‘momentary and light affliction that is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison’ (2 Cor 4:17). “This is why we never give up; even though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day (through what we are experiencing). So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Cor 4:16, 18). It is our focus on the struggle with the temporary things that veils our understanding of the true meaning and purpose of God; our being with Him participating in Love. But, if we can grasp an understanding of His work and purpose from all the testimony that surrounds us, and “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith; Who, for the joy set before him (the eternal purpose of getting us to God) endured the cross, scorning its shame (the temporal suffering to gain this purpose), and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (having completed His work of salvation and waits for it to renew All who receive it).” (Hebrews 12:2)
Man’s greatest complaint against God is that He allows suffering and pain. Man does this because he willfully refuses to look to God for meaning and purpose, but instead tries to define life’s purpose from his own limited and egotistical perspective. If we would look to Jesus and realize it is the very thing we complain about that is bringing us to God, we would look past that which is temporal and grasp hold of what is of an ‘eternal weight of God’s glory and far beyond all comparison.’
Are you fixated on the pleasures of the moment that are fleeting and insatiable? I pray you look to Jesus for the Joy set before you and away from the struggles of today… setting your gaze upon God’s desire for you to be with Him for all eternity.
“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Hebrews 12:3; Isaiah 40:28-31)
Praying you choose Christ today
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.