Has life always been good to you or do you live in quiet desperation?
Donald L. Norbie, Greeley, Colorado, USA [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
Life often does not turn out as one had hoped
It has been said that many people live their lives in quiet desperation. Youthful idealism has this glowing vision of the future, coloured with radiant optimism. And then real life comes along! At a fiftieth high school reunion a woman asked me, ‘Don, has life been good to you?’ No one had ever asked me that before. I had to think a minute. Then I said, ‘No, life has not always been good, but the Lord has always been good’. Tragedies do come in life; there can be gut-wrenching heartaches. Your marriage may fall apart. Your spouse confronts you with the words, ‘I no longer love you, I have found some one else; I want a divorce’! It is as if you were kicked in the stomach. Your whole world falls apart. Or your teenage daughter comes home and confesses with tears, ‘Mum and Dad, I am pregnant!’, and the man involved has no desire to marry her. After years of faithful service, your employer calls you into his office, and announces, ‘I am sorry but we will have to let you go’. A job that you thought was secure has vanished like the morning mist. Or the doctor tells you quietly, ‘I am sorry to tell you but your wife has terminal cancer. We can do nothing for her. Take her home and love her while she is still here’. And you now have to go through the agony of seeing the one who has been a faithful wife and borne your children waste away and finally die.
Life demands a response, both from us and others
No, life is not always good to us. But how do we respond? We may become angry and bitter, angry with God for allowing this to happen. With Job’s wife we may cry out, ‘Curse God and die!’, Job 2. 9. We may enter into a deep valley of depression, drowning in the depths of self-pity. A lady friend of ours died suddenly at home. She was a dear Christian. Her husband said, ‘Well, she has her wish now; she has wanted to die’. Grief over her children had tormented her soul for years. She just wanted to die and to go to be with the Lord.
No, life is not always good nor pleasant. Hopefully there will be Christians who will rally around you to sustain you with their love and prayers. They have come to know ‘the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God’, 2 Cor. 1. 3-4. If any part of the human body knows an injury, the whole body musters its resources to bring healing. So it should be with the local body of Christians, the assembly. We are exhorted, ‘Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ’, Gal. 6. 2.
When all else fails God is the Ultimate Resource in every event
But then ultimately we must turn to God Himself, cry out to Him and cling to Him. David returned to find his home village in smoking ruins, his family and goods plundered. It was a low point for him. ‘Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God’, 1 Sam. 30. 6. Jehovah was his God and he would claim His love, protection and blessing. David could say: ‘Preserve me, O God, for in you I put my trust’, Ps. 16. 1. At times life can be confusing and painful. Again Asaph could write, ‘When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me: until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end’, Ps. 73. 16-17.
Life is an issue we need to live with
The time comes when one must accept the reality of the tragedy in life and go on living. Some seek to escape the reality of their lives and withdraw into their own heads and live in a world of fantasy. Such may end up in mental hospitals, useless to God and to man. We must face reality and think truthfully, Phil. 4. 8. Begin to live for others and forget yourself. Then you will begin to heal from your wounds. There are many lost, hurting people around us. Reach out to them. Your suffering has uniquely equipped you to help others, and remember our God keeps our tears in His bottle and one day will wipe away all tears from our eyes. Our Father will welcome all His children home and kiss their tears away. Thanks be to God!
AUTHOR PROFILE: Donald Norbie is in fellowship with the assembly in Greeley, Colorado, and is a commended full-time worker. A regular contributor to Precious Seed and other assembly magazines his ministry is widely appeciated throughout N. America and the UK.