Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What world do you live in?

I sit here this morning listening to the birds sing away, feeling the warm morning breeze blow through the windows, look at the clear blue sky and wonder, what world do I live in? Is it the same one that you live in? Of course it is, you might say. We live in the same world, with the same birds, the same warm breeze and the same blue sky. We hear the same cars go by as people are on their way to work, school, the store or Dunkin' Donuts. This is the world we live in. Peaceful, tranquil, just a plain nice place to live.

But that isn't the way it always is, is it? This world isn't tranquil. It isn't peaceful. It isn't all sunny skies and thornless blackberries. This world is a mean place to live. We like to think that living in the world today means that everything is all right and occasionally something terrible breaks into the tranquility. But the opposite is actually true. Ever since the Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, tranquility is not the way of the world. This world is filled with pain, suffering, heartache, fear, anger, bitterness, frustration, sickness, and death. Each day shows that to us. Open the news on your I-phone and you will read about the terrors and atrocities that we do to one another. Stop by the hospital and see the pain and illness that isn't being cured. Look into the eyes of someone who has faced the death of a loved one and you will see what I am talking about. That is the reality of the world. Sitting on the porch and feeling the peace of the world is a brief respite. It isn't reality.

What a "downer" way to think. Perhaps you should just go curl up into a ball and hide from this world, withdrawing into the corners of your mind. No, that isn't what needs to happen. What needs to happen has already happened. Into this world and the terribleness of daily life, stepped the Son of God. God became man and dwelt among us (John 1:14) He came not because we merely needed a little help to go in the right direction. He came because we are totally and completely helpless in the face of all that we are going through. You and I cannot stop the progression of an illness in a loved one. We cannot immediately make the heart stronger or the effects of the stoke go away. We cannot turn the heart of a loved one from the bitter path of destruction. We cannot stop the abortion doctor from performing a procedure that will kill another baby. We cannot take the pain from the heart of the neighbor that is struggling with the situation of life.

But there is One who has already - that One is Jesus Christ. He tells us, "In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) If He has overcome the world, why do I still suffer? Why do I still hurt? Why is my loved one still sick? Why does that person have to die? Why? Because we are still in the world. The mistake we make in our thinking is that we believe that because of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, because we believe in Him, we will never have to face another problem in our lives. We will never again have to see a loved one suffer. We will never again have to have a parent, a spouse, a child, a neighbor, or a fried die. Jesus has overcome that means those things aren't going to happen.

Wrong. They will still happen. There will still be unexplained events, illnesses and deaths. There will still be fear and sorrow. Jesus tells us that those things are not the ultimate outcome. Even death is not the ultimate outcome. Why? Because He has faced death and the grave and has risen victorious. He died and came back to life, to overcome death and the grave. The loved one may go to the grave, your heart might be broken, you might be struggling with grief and sorrow, but there is One that is there to carry that burden for you. "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, " Jesus says to you. The rest He gives is the rest in His loving arms where He allows you to cry, while drying your tears. He allows you to rant and rave and while listening and loving. He allows you to become angry and never loses His cool with you. He soothes you feverish brow and holds you.

Then He reminds you, "All will face death. All will face the grave. It is never at the 'right' time or when you are ready. It might be an elderly person or a young child. It might be your wife or your son or daughter. It might be your best friend from childhood or a casual friend from work. But know this one thing: Believing in Me, that death is not the ultimate end. Life is the ultimate end. You will grieve for him/her but he/she will no longer be suffering or causing you suffering, for they are living with Me forever in paradise. This world is not the ultimate end or the place you will stay forever. Heaven is your home."

In the midst of our struggles, we don't want to hear that. We want the pain to go away. The only One who can take the pain away is our Lord Jesus Christ. The only place we will be free from any struggles is in heaven. The only way that we will get there from here is - through the grave. But know this, Christ has overcome the grave. Remember Easter? Remember their grief? Remember the sorrow when they saw the empty tomb? Al that changed in a moment - when they encountered the risen Christ.

He has overcome the pains of this world. There is tranquility, even in this world that is tearing apart. That tranquility is found in the risen, living and ascended Lord. In this world - pain. In Christ - peace. Don't let the pain overcome the peace that He brings.

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