Last night I was talking to my son Andy about change. I casually said:
"As I think about change, I think changes are usually for the worse."
At the time, I was thinking about restaurants that no longer exit, or businesses like Toys R Us, Orchards, Gottschalks, and Sears. Too many good places gone.
Then I broke "change" into two categories:
1. Wanted change-Some different happens or alters the course of our lives that in a way that pleases us. Kate and Ryan’s wedding comes to mind.
2. Unwanted change-Something different happens that we don’t like. Losing your health comes to mind.
As I thought about wanted, and unwanted change, I realized that change occurs from:
1. From the inside out-For example my vocal cords are scared. My voice will never sound the same.
2. From the outside in-Here an event occurs that changes your identity or role in your life in a permanent way. Becoming a grandparent comes to mind.
Put it all together and you get
Wanted and unwanted change. Then changes that from the inside out and outside in.
Then a Bible verse came to my mind:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
My mind immediately jumped to unwanted change that either affects us from the inside out, and outside in, things like abuse, rape, loss of health, the death of a loved one.
Each and every tragedy you’ve experienced in your life has the potential to work together for good.
What makes this sound like a preposterous promise results from a misunderstanding of the meaning of the words “work together for good.”
The promise that all things work together for good does NOT mean we will eventually like, enjoy, or be pleased that some form of unwanted change or suffering entered into our lives or the lives of someone we know and love.
Tragedies occur that we will NEVER, EVER, like or want.
Our tragedy and suffering change us. They’ve affect our faith, and our relationship with our creator. Tragedy and suffering also impact our relationship with family and friends.
Some folks give up, or walk away from their faith. Others blame God. After that, they act as judge and jury.
They find God cruel, uncaring, useless, or non existent. They pass sentence, and banish God from their lives.
Then their are folks like me, who certainly does not understand why God allows for unspeakable and/or and unrelenting pain, suffering, and tragedy.
I understand His promise, so in my groaning, suffering, pain and misery, I ask God to keep His promise.
I expect to receive the unexpected. I expect to be changed from the inside out and the outside in.
Another Bible verse comes to mind:
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4
I wish there was another way than suffering to produce these traits.
In the mists of both past and present suffering I've asked God in prayer:
Lord, couldn't you accomplish the same things, if I won the lottery?" (Fat chance, I don't buy lottery tickets)
My point here is simple. Pain, suffering, tragedy, sickness, accidents, disease, and suffering are all part of the package of living in this world.
Some of us have a prospective assurance, and hope of living in another world. A world where all suffering, tragedy, and pain end throughout eternity.
When we fully grasp that reality and see our suffering through the lens of our faith, which by the way isn’t easy or comes naturally, we can agree with Paul who wrote:
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Don’t waste your groaning, pain or suffering, or tragedy.
Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner wrote two award winning books. The first:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?
provides men and couples with information and support before, during and after prostate surgery.
Their second book was written for couples living with!erectile dysfunction. After living with erectile dysfunction for four years, Rick chose penile implant surgery. The couple share how implant surgery changed their lives and relationship.
The title of their book is:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Erectile Dysfunction and Penile Implants.