“And this is what I get as one of your children?” “This is the thanks I receive for the ways I served you?”
Though you may have never verbally expressed those statements to God, they may have crossed your mind or you may have heard others essentially say those words. Generally, they are contemplated/whispered/spoken in the aftermath of some undesirable experience.
Funny, isn’t it, that those kinds of remarks didn’t seem to cross the Apostle Paul’s mind in 2 Corinthians 11 or 12? Talk about one who had served . . . indeed, he had done so. He spoke to countless people about Christ, saw many of them come to faith, discipled them in their walk with Christ, developed leaders from among them, and coached them as growing congregations. He did this over and over again.
And what did he get? Sounds like, prison cells, bodily scars, near death experiences, and an occasional empty stomach.
Rather than voicing the lines suggested above . . . the lines voiced by many . . . he listed off his experiences as if they were medals of honor hanging on his jacket as a soldier of Christ. He seemed to remember what we often forget.
- “In this world you will have trouble . . .” (Jn. 16:33)
- “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt. 5:11, 12)
As one who has pondered the kind of responses written above in the throes of the realities of life, I want to clearly include myself in a collective “we.” Is it possible that we have wrongly assumed that life or God somehow owes us only sunshine, smiles, and ice cream cones? Is it possible that one of the most important steps we may ever take towards understanding the world in which we live might be grappling with this?
God will sometimes allow us to experience things that we would not choose ourselves.
And I can be OK with that because I know that He loves me.