Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just because it's hard or painful doesn’t mean it's bad

October 29, 2009

Our generation has a problem. Well, okay, we’ve got more than one, but a problem that seems to get us into emotional knots is that we have adopted a couple of incorrect life formulae. The first one: pain = bad. The second is not as blatant, yet can be even more detrimental to balanced living is this: hard (as in difficult) = bad. One of the worst parts of that formula is that it lies underneath the surface, unspoken yet driving our lives.

“Wait a minute, Herb,” you might say. “I’m okay with some things being hard.” You’re right. We’re okay with it when we can choose what is hard such as athletics or education. But when we don’t get to choose – relationships, physical heath, financial struggles, (name yours), we default, consciously or unconsciously, to the formula: hard and painful = bad. We want to choose the times when life is and is not hard or painful; we want to be in control. But life (grrrr) somehow doesn’t give us those choices.

Just because it is hard or painful doesn’t mean it is bad.

Part of the problem is that we have defined “good” as easy, comfortable, pleasurable… what we naturally like. What is your gut response to this scripture?
James 1:17 (NIV) 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Here’s my guess: when you read “good and perfect gift” your kneejerk reaction was “a raise, a promotion, a nicer house, a better car, kids’ success, health…” Am I close? I’m betting no one said, “pain, difficult times, hard things.” Am I right?

Just because it is hard or painful doesn’t mean it is bad.

This week we’ve seen that one of the loving processes of Jesus is to disorient us to reorient us to truth (thanks Mark Batterson for that phrase!). Disorientation, without exception, means some kind of pain – emotional, physical, social, financial, circumstantial or otherwise. It also means it is hard.

Since God gives good and perfect gifts AND He sends us through painful and hard things, the conclusion we have to draw is that pain and hard times are sometimes His gift for our ultimate, greater good even though they cause temporary angst.

Just because it is hard or painful doesn’t mean it is bad.

Have you noticed that a child who is exhausted, in desperate need of sleep, will often fight to stay awake? She cries, fusses, fights being held or rocked while we adults shake our head in wonder. “Man, I’d like to take a nap!” we muse. Why doesn’t she give in to this wonderful gift of rest? Because she doesn’t realize by trusting the “big people” to go where she doesn’t want to go and do what she doesn’t want to do she can experience something very good. Much better than how she is feeling now.

We are often like that child when we pain or hard things come. We fight against the very thing we need most, pushing against or pulling away, thinking it is bad. We don’t realize that by trusting the “big Person” to go through what we don’t want we can experience something so much better. We must give in to the journey that Jesus has us on even when it feels bad, TRUSTING Him in the middle of the pain and hard things.

Just because it is hard or painful doesn’t mean it is bad.

I have a hunch (no Biblical proof), that the storm Jesus and his disciples ran into (Gospel of Mark, chapter four) was Satan trying to keep Jesus away from His destination because even the devil could see the indications of all the good Jesus was going to do there. If Jesus had allowed the painful circumstances or the hard things happening to deter or distract, the good on the other side of the storm would have been lost.

Don’t let pain or hard things deter or distract from the good God wants to do in your life. Ride out the waves, endure the high winds, trust the One Who controls it all because…

Just because it is hard or painful doesn’t mean it is bad.

Boldly, Herb

(To listen to Herb via the internet go to http://www.newsongpittsburgh.org/sermons.htm )

2 comments:

Rose said...

Great reminder!!

Anonymous said...

again, it hit home. Thank you Pastor Herb for your awesome intuitiveness!