Summary: Unwelcomed crises put Christians to the test of commitment to Christ and oftentimes requires us to change our perspective from that which is temporary to that which is eternal.
Coping with Personal Discomfort on the Way to Glory
The afternoon I began writing down my thoughts concerning our Scripture for today, I had planned to be on my way to Florida with a friend who had asked me to conduct a private ceremony in memory of his wife whose ashes were to be scattered in the ocean.
A day earlier I had suggested that we postpone the trip for one year due to my perception that he was simply not ready to dispose of her cremains; the closer the day for the trip, the greater his emotional upset and the more intense his migraine headaches. He was not ready.
Based on research and personal experience, the grieving process takes from one to seven years depending on the extent of coping skills learned during a loved one’s long-term illness.
How well we deal with emotional “after effects” of a loved one’s death depends on the extent to which we learned and practiced skills for coping with the debilitating, discomforting effects of illness. Actually, any devastation suffered by a loved one tends to make folks bitter or better.
One of the most vocal critics of Christianity has been Ted Turner who told the AJC that he had been saved seven or eight times in his life but that he became disenchanted when, despite his prayers for her to get well, his sister died anyway. He became bitter, and stayed that way. Others become bitter then get better. What we need is to strike a balance, yet always pressing onward and upward!
One of the realities we all face is that, no matter how sinful or how spiritual our lives may have been, disease and death affects every one of us.
This was the issue faced by Paul who had endured the negative effects of multiple crises, yet managed - with God’s help - to cope with pressures, perplexities, persecutions, physical hardships, painful experiences. These unwelcomed crises knocked him down but not out! 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 . . .
Having just reminded the Corinthian Christians that, despite all he and they had gone through, their sure hope was still in Jesus’ resurrection, Paul went on to say that, therefore, “we do not give up”!
Commitment to Christ had changed Paul’s perspective! Folks, you gotta have a positive perspective! Eternal not momentary!
Paul viewed his situation in light of eternity! “For I consider that present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory to be revealed” (Romans 8:18).
The Bible never belittles feelings of disappointment, but God’s Word makes it clear that the way we feel now will not always be the way we feel. And I believe that disappointment is an indication of longing for something better! You might even call it a type of homesickness! I have a longing in my heart for Jesus!
Whether the discomfort of disappointment stems from one’s faithfulness to Christ, or is brought on by distresses such as disease, divorce, poverty, loneliness or whatever, if endured (coped with) in humility with a positive attitude that honors God, you know what? Our coping is going to add to our eternal weight of glory!
Consistently focusing on the eternal enables us to endure the temporary! When God gave me the gift of seeing and hugging my son in his glorified state, my emotions ran the gamut . . . fear – skepticism – heightened awareness – blessed assurance – vindication – elation – admiration – consolation – adoration – expectation – not about me, but about God! Glory to God for the gift of new life in Christ!
What emotions do you experience when you think about a new, glorified body that will never break down? While waiting for the promise of our new state of being in heaven, God’s grace sustains us for enduring the discomforts of this life – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 . . .
We do not know what Paul’s “thorn” was - for good reason: Mention of his personal experience was only intended to help us one and all to draw strength and encouragement from his example of coping - no matter what our weakness is. God’s grace is sufficient regardless of causes, conditions, or circumstances. God’s favor bestowed upon undeserving sinners is indeed amazing!
C. S. Lewis believed wholeheartedly that God’s grace is the one doctrine that sets Christianity apart from all other religions. He arrived at that conclusion following his experience of losing, then regaining, the joy of his Christian Faith.
For more than a year Lewis wrestled with God over the untimely loss of his beloved wife Joy Brown, but he finally came back to what he already knew, that is, the eternal perspective with which God would have His children view their present situations. In light of eternity is how we learn to look at and thereby cope with our disappointments and the discomforts associated with them.