If there is anything I have learned in life this far, it is that life itself is an amoeba. Ever changing, ever confusing, ever unpredictable. Tragedies come and go, unexpected instances occur, and yet we still expect life to contain consistency and comfort. In the past year I have seen more tragedies and hardships than I have ever seen before. Deaths of friends’ loved ones, miscarriages, homes burned in wildfires, divorce, loss of jobs, depression, diseases, shootings… and the list goes on. After seeing all these things, I no longer view life as something that should be easy and comfortable. In fact, life is quite the opposite. Why is this?
Because this is not our home. We were never meant to live like this. We were never meant to live in a broken world, full of death and destruction. We were meant for paradise. We were meant for eternal, intimate communion with God. Instead, we chose to walk away from Him. Thus, sin was born. It should be no surprise to us, especially as believers, that this life is less than perfect. In fact, that it is far from perfect – sometimes far from bearable.
Jesus knew that life would be difficult. He understood the human experience. He declares:
“…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart: I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33b).
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:28-30).
Paul also discusses the hardships of life:
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27).
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. … So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:7-10, 16-18).
“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11b-13).
The writer of Hebrews:
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. …Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (Ja. 1:2-4, 12).
Praise God that we have this immense hope in the midst of trials and suffering. For those of us who hold to faith in Christ we know that eternity in paradise with the Father awaits us on the other side of Glory. These tragedies and sufferings are but for a moment – our joy in the Lord will be forever. However, this does not diminish tragedies. We are human after all, right? We are free to mourn, free to question. However, we may do all of this knowing that this is not our forever – this is not our home.