I’ve posted this before, a few years ago, but the conversation at this morning’s Christian Standard Contributing Editor’s meeting—at which I suggested a good 2014 theme might be “toughen up and grow a pair”—reminded me of it. (For a group of good writers, we don’t self-edit much when we get together).
It’s still beyond me how anyone can read the Bible and think the Christian life is supposed to be easy.
Noah was 600 years old when he began building the ark. After weeks of backbreaking work, he endured 370 days stuck in that airtight boat with an ornery family, hundreds of animals, and enough “fertilizer” for the rest of his grape-growing career.
Abraham waited a lifetime for God to keep the promise of a son, only to receive a command to murder that son in cold blood.
Joseph refused to have sex with Potiphar’s wife but still went to prison.
Moses put up with a million whiny Israelites for forty years.
Job lost everything because he had done nothing wrong.
Hosea faithfully loved an unfaithful wife and provided for the children of her affairs.
David ran for his life to escape a crazy king.
Jeremiah became the weeping prophet.
Daniel faced hungry lions.
Ezekiel watched his wife die, and was forbidden to mourn.
Mary quietly suffered disgrace and journeyed 70 miles on a donkey while nine months pregnant to give birth in a cave, alone and in pain and probably embarrassed, with no idea she wouldn’t get to return home to show the new baby to her mom.
Joseph endured the same scorn, the same journey, the same embarrassment, the same years running from Herod, and didn’t even get his own Hail Joseph prayer.
John the Baptist lost his head twice; before his beheading, despair and confusion led him to question if the man he followed was truly the Savior.
And Jesus, the Man of All Sorrows, “became obedient to death–even death on a cross.”
These are the giants of our faith. They are some of God’s “favorites.” Yet their journeys were difficult, messy, painful, unsanitary, anguished, dangerous, and unfair. So if this is how God deals with his favored ones, why do we equate his blessing with safety, self-fulfillment, and air conditioning?