In Pleasure and in Pain

Recovering nicely from Labor Day activities. I’ve got to say that while “exhausted” would aptly described mine and Kathy’s condition as we fell into bed after our late night return home, there is no doubt that the time away with our kids was delightful and filled with funny moments! That reminds me, a great game to play on a crowded Sky lift is one we like to call “Real or Toupee”. Spending time together as a family is so supremely enjoyable to me. It is most definitely at the top of my “Where I’d Rather Be” list!

Speaking of “enjoyable”, pleasure seems to be a highly sought after component of the human equation these days. Really it’s nothing new. Maximizing the good and minimizing the bad is the most ancient and natural pursuit there is. Erasmus, More, Hutcheson and Hume among others were proponents of the idea that God wants us to be happy and relish our existence as much as possible. It makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t we do all we can to “get the most out of life”?

But then there are those persistent Bible verses that direct us to consider “trial-facing” a joy (James 1:2), and tell us that we will inevitably have trouble (John 16:33) and those troubles are going to cause so much strife that God feels He must remind us that He will never give us more than we can bear (I Cor 10:13). Then we are told to cast the cares created by the misfortune onto Jesus because He indeed cares for us even though bad things still happen (I Peter 5:7). Now, if we look to the loving God, thinking surely this cannot be…surely Omnipotent God would want to keep us from all harm while we are on this earth, alas! For we find little comfort in that sentiment realizing that He didn’t do that even for His own Son.

So how then should we live our lives? Should we pursue something other than pleasure…perhaps seek suffering and embrace it? Should we just grin and bear the pain like an 8-year-old getting a flu shot determined to believe that this agony is for our own good even if we cannot currently see it.

My heart has been encouraged by Isaiah 26:8. It begins with two powerful words…”Yes, Lord…” But what question did God ask that causes Isaiah to be so quick to respond in the positive? The point here is that it really does not matter what the Lord inquired of Isaiah. The answer was going to be the same. If the question involves poverty or wealth, physical fitness or terminal disease, a new and exciting relationship that is just budding or one that is coming to a painful end. The answer will not be altered. It remains simply… “Yes”…”I will still walk in your truth. I will still wait for You. I will still regard Your Name and Your renown as the great desire of this soul without regard for the condition of this flesh.”

So the Bible does not call us to embrace suffering only. It calls us to embrace whatever comes our way that might allow us to see Jesus and glorify the One Who is the great desire of our souls!

1 thought on “In Pleasure and in Pain”

  1. "Yes, Lord" is much easier to say when we believe His promise that "…for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose."
    Thanks, Pastor for the reminder.

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