pain

pain

I used to listen to Russell Moore’s podcast, from time to time, called ‘The Cross and The Jukebox’. He would take country songs and evaluate their falseness and truthfulness in light of the Word. It was insightful. I am a listener of much music and I am often astounded at some of the most brilliant and some of the most stupid lyrics. And you’ll find some that you can spin a little bit and find a spiritual truth.

One lyric that’s been going around in my head for a while goes like this: ‘When the world turns ugly I just turn and look at you’. Here’s the meaning: sometimes life can really stinketh, but you’re smokin’ hot and young and tan and because I have you on my arm, even through the tough times, it will be survivable because I have you, you sweet young thing, on my arm.

We know that from the truth of God’s Word, people will let us down and they can’t change the circumstances. We may seek comfort in our jobs but we could be laid off next week. We may find security in our stuff or in our family, but as you may remember from Job’s story, he lost it all within a couple of hours. Sometimes people may encourage us, ‘well, at least you still have your health.’ If someone said that to Job, you may remember after he lost his crops and his kids he also lost his health. He lost it all.

So back to the song…one letter change and that spins it in a completely different vertical direction. ‘When the world turns ugly I just turn and look at You.’ Did you see the minor change that has major implications? I capitalized the ‘y’. That can give us reason to hope and dream and heal. ‘When the world turns ugly I just turn and look at You.’

I’m a word guy and the word ‘just’ seems out of place. Too many times as believers we tell people that they ‘just’ have to do this or that, like it’s the only thing that they have to do, and that’s usually partly right but not fully right…which can make it completely wrong. Another thing the word ‘just’ can imply is that  it’s easy as rolling off a log. (If you’re unfamiliar with that expression, it means that it is really, really easy!)

It takes God’s grace at work in our hearts to turn to Him in faith, to cry, to surrender, to plead, to beg, to listen, to respond. We can do these things in light of the cross but life can be really, really hard and if you’re listening to preachers who are preaching something else, please change the channel. Life can be really good, but it’s most definitely painful. Read 1 Peter sometime.

It was God’s grace at work in Job’s life that caused him to cry out in faith.

[21] And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
(Job 1:21 ESV)

Paul was in the depth of despair when he penned the following verse that I refer to often:

[9] Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9 ESV)

Our pastor said recently that one of the joys in dealing with people that are going through pain, is to take them to the cross of Christ in prayer…I don’t want to misquote him but it was something like that. He can’t fix their problems but he can point them to the One who can and cry out to the One who hears. Sometimes God fixes our problems…sometimes He carries us through our problems…sometimes He makes us wait before He fixes our problems…sometimes He has the long term fix work on our problems a bit at a time plan (He does this often)…and sometimes the problems and the difficulties last for this lifetime and His grace to deal with our pain on a daily basis is enough (Think of Paul’s thorn in the flesh).

We often go to Him with our problems and our pain and sometimes He deals with them but if we’re going to Him, primarily to have Him deal with our stuff, we may be going to Him with wrong motives. He wants us to draw near to Him, whether He deals with our stuff the way we want Him to or not. And we will be better for it…regardless. Could it be that the tough stuff in our life is to force us to the foot of the cross? And could it be that He deals with us and changes us and transforms us into the likeness of Christ as we go to Him? And could it be that our problems will remain but the way that we deal with them changes and become more God-glorifying? And could it be that others will see how we deal with our stuff and give the nod to Him? And could it be, fellow believer, that your difficulty is to draw others near to the One you love?

[13] Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13 ESV)

…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 ESV)

‘When the world turns ugly I just turn and look at You.’ That’s not a bad line!

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