Thursday, July 23, 2009

The loss of a teacher

When I was young I asked someone why there had to be pain. The answer was that pain is a teacher; it tells us that something is wrong, it is meant to teach us something.

Before the advent of pain killers, pain was endured. It was respected, feared and rightfully dreaded.

The story is told that in modern day hospital emergency rooms the first request is “give me something for the pain”. Secondly, we want to find out what is wrong. We are a nation that wants the pain killers first.

About two weeks ago a man told me that the problem with America is that we cannot tolerate pain and secondly, we do not believe in the reality of evil. He gave me something to think about.

Pain does not teach us much when our first and only response is to take a pain killer. It is similar to having a fire which triggers our alarm system and all we do is turn off the alarm and think everything is ok. The current economic conditions in our country (high unemployment, business failure troubles and more) are supposedly being relieved with mindless government spending (buying ourselves an economic pain killer). This dulling of the pain results in “head in the sand talk” that everything is ok. It isn’t ok.

Yesterday I met with a business owner in his 60’s, who does business on an international scale. His business is owed over two million dollars from clients all over the world. These same clients have been his faithful customers for over 25 years. They are in trouble so he is in trouble. His line of credit has dried up. He has assets but he cannot borrow against them since he has no income. A life-long dream is crumbling before him. He sat with his shoulders hunched, nursing a back injury. His once steady voice was wistful, hushed, and interrupted with long periods of silence as he told us about his situation. I saw pain yesterday. The formerly politically active businessman has serious doubts about the honesty of our political system. He no longer contacts his representatives; I saw pain that Senator’s Franken and Klobachar will never see.

We take pain killers to lessen the physical pain but what about the psychological pain? I believe we mostly self medicate with drugs, booze, food, sex or whatever offers a temporary escape. We isolate ourselves from others; we distance ourselves from our family; we become bitter and touchy. We possess an attitude that we are “owed something” especially when our unrealistic expectations are not met. In short, we become controlling as we experience the last gasp of our fleeting power and prestige.

This is not unique to our generation or time; it is the visible demonstration of the reality of sin and evil. How sad. This is how the world reacts. How are we as Christians to react to pain and trials?

Our example is found in 1 Peter 3:8-18. Peter is writing under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
8"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. 11He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,”

We as Christians are to react differently than the world. We may even be asked to suffer for doing good (verse 14). The world is watching us. They are watching how we will respond to trials, pain, loss, loneliness, humiliation, whatever, and if our response is the same as the world. They will laugh and chortle at our example. They will view our faith as worthless

Why has our Christian witness been blunted in America? Because we, the Christians, have reacted just as the world reacts. When we do this we have no witness. Christians in these days need to set themselves apart from the example of the world. Our response must be Christ like, even willing to suffer for doing good. Do not be afraid; do not fear what the world fears (verse 14). Let’s live 1 Peter 3 to God’s glory.

Oh Lord, be with us these days. May we respond to the events of our times, not as the world responds but may we respond as Your Son Jesus did—willing to suffer for doing good. Oh Lord, may we not fear what the world fears. Give us strength and courage for this day. May all praise, honor and glory be Yours. Come Lord Jesus. Amen

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear brother,

Once again you have used the surgeon's scalpel skillfully to open a festering wound. Pray the Master Physician will bring healing to His people.

Jesus Christ alone is our only hope. He alone is the strength we need in this dark hour.

Come Lord Jesus and strengthen your Church to move forward and advance Your Kingdom.

Amen, and amen!