This past weekend, I celebrated two different events; a graduation and a sweet memorial to a life well lived. A theme emerged from both events that challenged and encouraged me.
Some streams of Christianity sell a line that being a Christian means having an easy, breezy time with material blessings untold. I grew up with a similar theology. Usually, if suffering or pain is a part of a person’s life, it’s their fault. Thankfully, I read the Bible which corrected that messed up theology.
On Saturday, my husband graduated his eleven Bible students (they read/studied the entire Bible chronologically for the last nine months.) As I listened to the students share, I picked up on a theme. The truth is we will have trouble and pain in this life. It’s all throughout the Bible. Funny how we don’t hear this preached from the pulpit very often? Those in the Bible with the closest relationship to the Lord usually had the worst life. Moses, David, Jeremiah, Daniel, all of the prophets, Jesus, Peter, Paul, John, all of the apostles. Encouraging, eh? What caused them to be able to endure?
On Sunday, I attended a memorial for my friend Karisse. She lived a truly remarkable life. Yet, pain and suffering were a part of her life though she lived life to the fullest. Joy, art, beauty, laughter, perseverance, and strength marked Karisse’s life. Neither bitterness nor resentment scarred her, despite going through great loss, cancer treatments, cancer surgeries, sickness, and pain. What enabled Karisse to endure?
What is the common denominator I observed? Those who profess faith in God aren’t guaranteed an easy, breezy time. In fact, it’s probably the opposite. However, they are promised Someone who will walk with them in each and every trial. The truth of Emmanuel, God with us strengthens His people to endure great suffering. His manifest presence is the ultimate blessing. This is one of the distinctions of the Christian life. This is the guarantee we are given. I see it in the lives of the Bible heroes I read about as well as in Karisse’s life. The presence of God enables His people to endure. May I hold onto this truth every day.