“Can we just take a moment to say that life sucks?” I hate it when people say that. I hear it way too often. It’s an excuse. “Life sucks, just press on, someday, it may get better.” Stop! Why are we saying this? Life does not suck. It isn’t awful. Not just something to get through. Why are we counting the days till we die as if we can’t stand being on this earth?
Life is beautiful, but it’s easy to focus on the negative. I’m not in any way attempting to negate the fact that there are some major struggles in life. This life is full of pain and I’m very aware of that fact. What I’m trying to point out is that life does not stink.
I think we like to pretend it does. We can get sympathy. It’s almost like a constant battle to see who’s life is the worst. How can I say that life is good when it is so full of pain? Well, pain is one of the greatest ways God refines us.
Isaiah 48:10 (ESV)
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
“I like who I am, how I am. I’m perfect!” said no one ever. Yet none of us likes the pain we have to go through to be refined. Often the pain is self-inflicted.
As a five-year-old, I still didn’t trust my parents’ judgment. I had been told many times that razors were sharp and could severely hurt me if I played with them. That warning did not stop me from opening my older brother’s tool kit that he used when building and fixing computers and toying with the shiny, smooth razor blade. It felt so soft on my skin. How could this be bad for me?
I doubt it took more than five minutes to realize that razors are, in fact, sharp and dangerous. The tears spilled as quickly as the blood dripped off my hand. After that, I did not instantly begin heeding every warning from my parents, but I gained an understanding of their judgment that I hadn’t had before. Sometimes, things look good and don’t seem like they could be bad for us, but they are.
God only knows what is good for us. Even if we don’t appreciate the suffering. Though it seems impossible to bring beauty from the ashes, God is the miracle worker who brings joy from mourning.
Isaiah 61:3 (ESV)
to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
Suffering isn’t something God wants for us. He isn’t sitting on his throne mocking our pain. Just as a child needs discipline from his parents, so we often need to be reminded we can not walk this life alone. We need to walk this life in relationship with the one who bore the biggest burden possible; the burden of our sins.
1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Did I ever say life is painless? No, and truly it can’t be in this fallen world. Take heart. God is working it for our good. Life is good. It’s beautiful and even now, God is bringing beauty from the ashes of pain and suffering in your life. It will work for good, but we haven’t seen the big picture yet. We can’t yet see it from our vantage point.