Yesterday at tee ball I chatted with friends and moaned about the heat while Abigail gingerly batted and skipped around the bases. I barely paid attention and mostly waited for the game to end so we could get on with the day. On the way home Abi mentioned that a little girl on her team doesn’t have a mommy. Because her mom died of stage 4 cancer. One of my first thoughts was, “Why didn’t I know?” because I’m That selfish. I actually think I know every woman in town who is sick. Or that I have a supernatural sense for when a motherless child is on the tee ball field. Or that it would have actually made a difference if I had known.
My next realization was that it could have been me. With one different choice from our Savior, Abigail would have been the motherless one on the team. Naomi would spend her time in daycare and the workers there would feel so sad when she was confused and tried to call them “Mom”. It could have been me. God doesn’t make mistakes, so it shouldn’t have been me in that sense, but if you look at how worthless I am as a person, a mother, Christian, wife, sister, daughter and friend, it should have been me. Someone who doesn’t even enjoy the blessings of this life doesn’t deserve to be the recipient of a miraculous gift. But as quickly as that sorrow sinks in, it is replaced by the Lord’s still, calming, all-encompassing peace. He saved me because of His grace, His mercy, His plan–not mine. I could actually be a fruitful person, I could be close to perfect in all I do, gracious, devoted, and compassionate. But I still would never earn His love.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
I’ve been surrounded by suffering lately. So many people are sick and dying, and God pointed out to me that as a society we sort of celebrate suffering. It is obviously helpful for us, because the more we suffer the more we seek God and recognize our need for Him. But I wonder if we celebrate suffering more than we celebrate Him. When you think of the Bible, I think an outline would reveal that the whole thing points to Jesus, our Savior. We all suffer, it is biblical, but that’s not the theme of the Bible. The Good News isn’t about us at all. It’s about Jesus and what we do with Him and His truth.
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news” Romans 10:15
I think it’s time to put an end to the suffering. I’m ready to remember the lessons He brought us through it instead of focusing on the circumstances. Seems to me that we find a lot of reasons to wait on celebrating Him. We have a hard time rejoicing in Him when we’re suffering. Some of us even think about how we’ll be doing all that rejoicing in heaven, like that nullifies the fact that we already have our Savior! We live in a fallen and sinful world, but that doesn’t make God any less…God. He doesn’t change so He won’t be any “better” in heaven, we just won’t have as many crummy circumstances that color our view of Him.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds” James 1:2
I think the original point of singing songs in church was to praise Him for His sacrifice and presence. That the appreciation for who He is would overflow so abundantly from our hearts that we would be incapable of withholding beautiful musical offerings toward the heavens. I had a little vision today at church, of what it would be like if we all actually entered the sanctuary in that state of mind. That we would all simultaneously arrive at the conclusion that God Almighty is perfect, loving, amazing, sovereign, all-knowing, pure love and MUST be praised! That it doesn’t need to wait until the perfect song is played, or fit into the 17 minute pre-scheduled worship time. That our love for God would spill from us so readily that we wouldn’t care that we don’t sing well or don’t know the words, we would just rejoice at His awesomeness without delay.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6