Our culture tends to revolve around eliminating darkness. We want to lie away our wrongdoings, hide the shame, and cover up the deceit. We choose naivety in order to make the world seem like a “better” place. We tell each other our sin is acceptable; and ourselves that we’re better than our neighbor. We’ve developed a mindset of moral ladders and as long as we’re not on the bottom, we’ll survive.
Even as believers, we tend to fall in this trap. We sugarcoat life’s unexpectedness and harshness with the idea of “God’s plan” and “everything happens for a reason”. Somewhere along the line we lost sight of the truth and let our vulnerabilities run the show.
So, what is the truth?
We are promised hardships. We are guaranteed trials. And we are assured testing. The flaw with our generation’s mentality is that these aspects of life can be thought and wished away. Whether it be through positive thinking or justification we are a body that is dangerously good at validating our sinful nature.
We do this because we naturally shy away from owning our mistakes, taking responsibility for our actions, and addressing our hardness- ultimately because we fear man. We fear judgment, shame, solitude. We allow ourselves to be gripped by the temporal and imperfect opinions of those around us, rather than the only One that holds the power to do so.
If we are truly following Christ than we know that He is the ultimate judge and His joy alone is the reason for our life. Proclaiming that, means we need to live it out. Meaning, we allow our darkness to show through in order to glorify Him.
Wisdom from James
We can learn this through James 1:1-4
Consider 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 that steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
A beautiful piece of scripture that dives into the truth we so often run away from. When life erupts, and evil emerges we tend to lean on the words that promise prosperity, hope, and peace- rather than trial, testing, and endurance. One guarantees ease and comfort, and one offers continuation. Naturally, we choose the “good.”
But that’s exactly the problem. It is all good. But we’ve been taught and burdened in our culture with the idea that pain and grief are an unfortunate, stricken part of life. When in reality the word tells us, it is for His good. So, we rejoice and seek joy in it; rather than instinctively sugarcoat it with the hope of a relief to come.
Our Lord is titled “refuge” on numerous occasions in the bible. In other words, meaning security and shelter. So, there are two things we are sure of: God promises trials, but He assures protection. Meaning, He is the roof over our heads in a thunderstorm. He doesn’t stop the rain, but He keeps us from getting wet.
He does not leave us in times of suffering. He does not sit back and watch, but rather, He holds us, carries us, and guides us through. The pain we go through and the judgement we face are all avenues of showing God’s grace and love is worth it all. These aspects of life provide an opportunity to share the gospel with those that do not understand the reason for living this life. If we continue to mollify our circumstances to both ourselves and others than we are not giving God the glory. We are essentially choosing to ignore one promise of God in order to focus on the immediate elated promises. But we cannot have one without the other. We do not only pick the scriptures that make blatant remarks for happiness and joy, and rid of the ones that mention pain and endurance. It is all relative to Christ and if we proclaim Him as our savior than it is in our command to recognize the glory that comes with suffering.
This is a mindset, a change within the heart, a realization that God and all of His works and words are more than any other worldly aspect we face. It is a prayer, for a focus on Him. It is a devotion, to knowing Him in our daily life. It is a promise to yourself and Him that you will follow His lead in all the joy and delight, as well as the grief and struggle.