I’ve been reminded recently of the struggle my brother had with liver disease. He was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver when he was 17 years old, a genetic defect. He went to be with the Lord 2 years ago last Thursday.
As a young boy I grew up in a very faith-oriented church. There was a sense that sickness and disease should not be tolerated and that it was either a result of sin in one’s life or a test. As I watched my brother go through two liver transplants, years of recovery, way too many medications I often wondered if it was sin or a test.
But I was reminded recently that often this is the wrong question. It’s not for us to determine the why of something, but to figure out how to patiently endure. In the end does it really matter why?
We can spend hours contemplating and agonizing over why bad things happen to good people, but I’ve determined that those same hours are better spent enjoying the present and daily learning what it is to patiently endure. I don’t want to succumb to a fatalistic attitude, what will be will be. I want to contend for the best for me and my family and at the same time live a patient life not trying to find the meaning behind everything.
Here is a prayer I prayed this morning:
Jesus, your word says you will not test us more than we are able to be bear. That gives me hope. I can rest in the reality of your faithfulness. And in those times I don’t understand I choose to endure patiently, waiting for my deliverer to intercede. Thank you that you care for me, that you love me unconditionally. I trust you.
Scripture: Hebrews 12:1
“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
This is one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible. Couple things I like about it:
1) It shows our sin not as separating us from God, but as something that hurts us. Our world is a “do what feels right” world and religion is often seen as a rule-touting, no fun kind of mechanism. But God doesn’t want us to sin because He’s the Sin Police. He doesn’t want us to sin because He knows the damage we do to ourselves when we do sin. Not only does our world see God as the Sin Police, but many Christians do as well. We need to see our sin the way God sees it – as damaging our lives and those we love.
2) Second thing I like about this verse is the analogy to running. I once ran a lot. Not so much anymore (about 9 miles a week is all presently). In running three marathons in my life I’ve come to understand this verse even more clearly. Endurance doesn’t mean you beat your personal best or run as fast and hard as you can. It means you keep going, you don’t give up. And even in those moments where you have to stop and sit down, eventually you get back up and start running again. The older I get the more I understand that life can beat you up and endurance is so important.
1) it’s ok to sit down every once in awhile
2) keep getting up, don’t become overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion
3) rely on others more than I have in the past
4) see God as a loving mother who doesn’t want us to hurt ourselves in our sin
5) stay away from things that entangle and trip me up
Jesus, I need a new perspective on the wrongs I commit. Do a deep work in me of living a life of purity and holiness, not out of ritual or legalism, but out of the revelation that my life will be increasingly more fruitful and beneficial. Give me the strength and determination to run when I’m tired, to keep going when circumstances scream at me to give up. I need you and can’t do life without you.
I was sitting in our Kurios service last night as Corey Parnell shared. He was saying things I’ve heard many times growing up, but not so much lately. He told a story of his mom disciplining him and her standing right behind him as he had to go and apologize to a kid he made fun of. The picture was of God standing over us making sure we did what was right.
As he shared I thought, “there are some Christians who aren’t going to like that analogy.” As soon as I thought that I felt the Lord say, “but those people are independent and self-reliant.”
I was born and raised in Central Oregon, so I know the independent, do-it-yourself, attitude very well. But that attitude can often get in the way of receiving all that God has for us. It’s almost like we think we know better than God. Paul wrote in Romans 11:34, “For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?” Yet how often do I put myself in His place by my independent streak?
God isn’t standing over me making sure I do what’s right…but what if he is…who are we to say, “that’s not right?” Can’t God act however He wants or do we only accept Him and His work if we like how it does it? We must always be careful to not allow the culture we live in to dictate how we think God should act. Remember: we are the clay and He is the potter. Not the other way around.