by Calven Celliers
Earlier this week I went to visit one of our congregants who has been struck with Alzheimer’s and is sadly fading fast. The visit affected me badly, if I’m honest. I sat in disbelief, deeply saddened at the sight before me. A shell of a being where once there was a person so full of fun, life, and talent. Now completely withdrawn and lost to the outside world, totally dependent on others for the most basic of activities. As I drove away, I found myself angry; angry at the situation, dare I say, angry at God for allowing this to happen to one of His own.
The “why” question is not a new one; it goes back thousands of years. In one online article that I read as I tried to make sense of this scramble of emotions inside of me, contributing writer, Robert Hampshire commented that – “When we respond to a situation with anger, it shines a light on what we value and consider as right and wrong. On the other hand, if something does not produce any feelings of anger, we can conclude that it is not something we value that much. When a situation turns out differently than we think it should have been, it naturally causes emotional friction in us that comes out as frustration, disappointment, annoyance, and anger. So, if we find ourselves being angry with God, it reveals that we think God was unfair … we need to honestly ask ourselves what beliefs we have about God that are unscriptural, untrue, and unhelpful.”
I totally got what Mr Hampshire was saying. When we respond to a situation with anger, it shines a light on what we value and consider as right or wrong. Bingo! I love people, especially my flock, and when bad things happen to good people it makes me angry. It just doesn’t feel right nor fair. The question that remains, however, is this: what beliefs do I have about God, that cause me to feel this way? Who ever said that as believers we would never experience troubles or that we shouldn’t anticipate setbacks in this life? Not God, that’s for sure! In fact, Jesus went so far as to say, “33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33NIV)
Oftentimes, we focus on what is presented in front of us. And what we see sinks into our minds and works its way into our hearts. As I wrestled with God after that visit, I was once again reminded that these years on earth, while important and are to be used wisely and enjoyed, are preparation for a far greater life to come; life in heaven with God. My end, as Mary Queen of Scots put it, is my beginning. And her end was at the sharp point of an axe. Did God answer my “why” question? No, He didn’t, well not directly anyway, but He did comfort me as I prayed, with this scripture, “16 … do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16 – 18NIV)
The way to glory is sadly often via present suffering, we know that all too well. But take heart! I have overcome the world. As hard, and confusing, as our earthly trials and tribulations may be, for us as Christians they really are light and momentary troubles when we consider the eternal glory that awaits us.
As Rick Warren so aptly reminds us in his book The Purpose Driven Life, “What happens outwardly in your life is not as important as what happens inside you. Your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever.” And so dear friends, let us not grow weary, but let us see the difficulties of this life for what they are, training ground for an eternal glory that far outweighs anything we have to endure in this life. An eternal perspective changes everything!
God bless you,