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Friday, January 3, 2014

When Bad Things Happen to the Very Nice You

Some people seem to have a charmed life. Everything they touch goes well, every investment pays off, every relationship brings joy.

Their children are perfect, and their parents are healthy into old age.

And they never get sick, aside from a fashionable case of tennis elbow.

And as for the rest of us...stuff just seems to happen. We totter from absurdity to disaster, and sometimes we balance on the brink of a terrifying abyss, signposted 'bankruptcy' or 'cancer' or 'the house just burned down'.

Bad things happen to nice people. Including us. Is there anything we can do to prepare, to make it easier? Is there a metaphysical surfboard that will allow us to ride over the waves of adversity?

Sure. It's called The Bible.

I'm not going to jawbone on the prosperity gospel (Jesus was RICH!) or tell you God's favor will keep you safe from cancer and get you the best parking places at the mall. Jesus wasn't rich, and God has better things to do than deliver you the most convenient place to put your Yugo.

Bad things happened to people in the Bible.
  • Abel was murdered by his brother
  • Noah was a laughingstock...until the rains didn't stop
  • Hagar and Ishmael were sent out into the desert, to live or die...it didn't really matter to anyone except God
  • Ruth and Naomi were widowed, and left their homes to become gleaners, picking up wheat that the harvesters missed (a step above going through trash cans...I think)
  • Jesus was tortured to death at the age of 33
  • Stephen was killed by people throwing rocks at him
  • Peter was crucified...upside down.
  • Paul was beheaded after a long trip to Rome
I'm not including Job because he was something of a test case - what happened to him was deliberate.

In looking over this list, you should get an idea...Abel, dead; Jesus, dead (but not for long); Stephen, Peter, Paul...dead, dead, dead. After going through a lot of pain.

They did not get Double for their Trouble, at least not on Earth.

Following Jesus, we are promised a Cross of our own, and persecution. You may take this to mean the following:

If you haven't been tortured to death, you're ahead of the game.

Yes, you'll have trials.

But you also have a God who braced the faith of the heroes of Christianity as they faced the unspeakable.

We have a God who died horribly, so that Death would be defeated and that, in the end, we'd have nothing to fear.

If you're going to survive death, can anything else really be all that bad?

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