Posts Tagged ‘war’
Time Magazine has called it ‘The Decade From Hell.’ Bookended by market crashes and filled with more carnage than an Eli Roth movie, the 00′s have left humanity staggering and stunned to say the least. When you consider the infrequently disrupted utopia of the 90′s as the set-up, you might see the last ten years as some sort of sick practical joke, i.e. when your good friend in middle school knelt behind you as another smiled, then pushed you over.
But what really happened? How do we begin to make sense of the last ten years? I’ve had a few conversations over the last month with friends coming from all sorts of places–from pastors to atheists, business owners to teachers. Everyone seems to have a passionate interpretation. I’ve heard that we are seeing proof that God really doesn’t exist and that it’s up to us to clean up our own mess. I’ve heard that God is beginning to remove His hand from us, fatigued from our collective disobedience. I’ve heard that God has allowed history to unfold this way in order to draw us nearer to Him.
In times of uncertainty, it seems like we all gravitate towards a desperate search for the “why.” But I’m not sure that’s the best use of our energy.
In my short time on earth, I’ve determined that attempting to answer the unanswerable is a serious waste of time. None of us will really ever know the big secrets–that’s why it’s called faith. Instead, I think we should constantly seek to understand a timeless, Biblical perspective on things.
In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain.
Hebrews 12:4-9 MSG
This passage reveals a powerful truth about the reality of difficult times. God isn’t punishing you. He doesn’t dole out His wrath on the obedient. He uses trial and tragedy to strengthen us. It is through His loving discipline that He shapes us into better people and more capable messengers for Him. That said, experiencing His discipline will never be easy.
I remember my first year in college like it was yesterday. I had the awesome privilege of playing lacrosse at Johns Hopkins, one of the most storied and prestigious programs in the country. The school hired a new coach over the summer after my senior year in high school, a move that had most of the players concerned. His reputation as one of the best players in the history of the sport and one of the toughest coaches in the game preceded him. During our January pre-season training, our new coach’s conditioning strategy was unspeakable. Relentless 3 hour two-a-days that always ended with the Hoosier drill; 60 seconds to sprint 17 times across the width of a basketball court. If we didn’t make it in 60 seconds the first time, he’d put us back on the line to go again. He placed a garbage can in the center of the court so we had a place to get sick, which most of us inevitably did. We did this 6 days a week for the entire month. We hated him. I remember sitting with teammates after practice cursing his name. Something changed all that, however. Fast-forward to May and the NCAA championships. At a time when the on-field temperature read 119 degrees and most teams were out of gas by the end of the third quarter, our team NEVER got tired. We were in such good shape when it mattered, we just rolled over teams like they were standing still. It was awesome. And then we realized how great our new coach was and how privileged we were to be a part of his team. We hailed him as the best thing that had ever happened to the program. Since he’s been there, by the way, he’s become one of the most respected people in the sport and the only person in history to win the NCAA championship both as a player and as a coach.
The discipline he subjected us to was brutal, but in the end it produced incredible results. It was so difficult for my teammates and I to see the future that we wanted nothing to do with the present. Fortunately, we had a coach who absolutely knew what would happen as a result of his choice to push us. This draws a direct parallel to life (funny how athletics do that…) Over the last decade, we’ve seen terror, unprecedented natural disaster, financial chaos, greed, scandal and the deaths of some of the world’s biggest heroes/gods, and each of us has been deeply affected in some way. But the reality for those who are obedient to God is that our present condition reveals His passionate and unceasing LOVE for us. His discipline can become unbearable at times, but He knows EXACTLY what He’s doing. He knows the future, and if He’s willing to place the burden of His discipline upon us now, then we can be sure that the future will be incredible.
Later, of course, [God's loving discipline] pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!”
Hebrews 12:10-12 MSG
May God reveal Himself to you in new and profound ways over the next 10 years.