Most of the time, when God is trying to teach me something by allowing me to experience pain, I sit around and complain. I tell Him that I hate what He’s doing, and I want Him to stop. I tell Him I want out of whatever particular circumstance is grieving me at the moment.
And He reminds me that the point of the pain is to help me rely on Him more, know Him better, and, ultimately, reflect Christ more accurately to others.
So I stop complaining.
Well, not entirely.
I still complain, I just change it up a bit. Instead of telling God to end my painful situation, I tell Him to speed it up. Just get me through it as fast as possible. Help me to learn whatever it is I need to learn so the pain can end. Fast forward this bad boy, and get me to the happily ever after.
And then I get convicted.
I am desiring comfort and relief more than I am desiring to know Christ better. I would rather feel good now than walk the long, hard road that leads to an unbelievably satisfying relationship with the Lover of my soul.
There was a guy in the Bible just like me. He asked Jesus what he had to do to get eternal life. And knowing that the man’s sense of security and comfort was in his great wealth, Jesus told him he had to sell everything he owned, give the money he made to the poor, and come follow Jesus (Matthew 19:16-22).
Jesus wasn’t just trying to promote humanitarianism in this story. He was trying to illustrate in a tangible way that unless we are willing to give up everything that makes us comfortable to know Jesus more deeply, we need to seriously consider whether we actually love Jesus as much as we like to say we do.
After Jesus told the rich man what he had to do to get eternal life, the Bible says, “the man went away sad because he had great wealth,” (Matthew 19:22). The man wanted eternal life, but not enough to give up his money.
How would you complete this sentence:
I want a deeper relationship with Jesus, but not enough to give up __________________.
Whatever you put in that blank is an idol. The rich man was sold out to his money. And it was his god.
I find it interesting that the man didn’t walk away feeling justified or confident that he had made the right decision. No, he was sad. He knew in his heart that he was missing out on something wonderful. But he just couldn’t get it through his thick skull.
His worldly logic failed him.
He kept his money. He desired comfort and familiarity over Jesus. And he lost his soul.
When we find ourselves in the middle of a painful situation, we can pursue worldly comfort in objects or people, or we can pursue Jesus.
Worldly comfort is temporary.
Jesus (and the perfect comfort He offers) is forever.