This summer I had a great time spiritually. Though I worked extremely hard every day at work and home, God did great things in my heart. This week I entered the fall semester greatly refreshed in spirit.
This week I again found myself listening to a talk by Francis. He and I were on the same page and I was tracking along in agreement.
- True “happily ever after” is to be in heaven with our entire family.
- This life is incredibly short.
- This life is incredibly hard.
I talk and think about these three truths every day.
- I care about every aspect of peoples’ lives, especially their souls.
- I think about the brevity of life as I prioritize my life.
- I have grown to expect suffering instead of being surprised by it.
For Christians who are living their faith transparently for all to see, I would argue life is extra hard.
- Christians suffer as human beings with problems and frailties common to all.
- Christians also suffer spiritual battle and poor responses from people about our faith (mixed in with some great responses).
Back to Francis, he reminds us of what 2 Corinthians 4:17 says about our suffering: For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
At this point I am 14 minutes into his talk and still tracking wholeheartedly.
- Life is short. Really short.
- Life is hard. Really hard.
I would like you to do something right now.
Yes, right now, please blink and pay attention while doing so.
Was the blink light and momentary?
Exactly! It was.
That is how short life is. It is a blink compared to eternity.
That is how light and momentary our suffering is compared to eternity.
2 Corinthians 4:17 verse makes complete sense as we look not to the things that are seen (our current life on earth) but to the things that are unseen (eternity with God).
Returning to Francis’s video, I continued nodding in joyful agreement when
Francis talked about 1 Thessalonians 4:18: Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Encourage each other with these words.
We are to encourage people with the fact that Christ is returning and our suffering will end “tomorrow.”
Then Francis started sharing sentences of “encouragement” he hears people say.
I got sucker punched.
I have said sentences like these:
- It’ll get better.
- You’ll get a job.
- You’ll find that perfect person.
- Your husband will come back to you.
- Your kids will follow Jesus sooner or later.
- Your parents may work this thing out.
- You’ll get a better job next time.
- Don’t worry. I am sure money’s coming your way.
THERE ARE NO PROMISES OF THESE THINGS ANYWHERE IN THE BIBLE.
- Your child can get more sick.
- Your mom can get more sick and die.
- You might not get a better job.
- You might not get married.
- You might never have a child.
(If you want to listen to the segment I just printed, listen from 14:16-16:00 on this link. You may want to listen to the entire talk.)
I know the truths of the Bible being reviewed today but have said these types of sentences, and not one of the sentences matches the promises of God.
I couldn’t breathe.
I thought of my beautiful college-aged daughters.
I thought of the sentences I have said about college being some of the best years of their lives. (Their college years have differed from mine.)
I thought of the number of times I have encouraged them with the “truth” that a Jesus-loving man is going to come into their lives. Just wait. (It hasn’t happened yet. The Jesus-loving men seem few in number, actually.)
Daughters, I am sorry.
I have taught you that life is short and difficult, but
I have inadvertently offered you false encouragement.
Please forgive me.
Instead, I offer true encouragement today and every day to come.
- God is good. He will meet all of your needs when you draw close to Him in your suffering.
- Jesus is coming “soon” and as Christians, you will live happily ever in the presence of God.
I encourage you to walk in a manner worthy of Christ in both paths of suffering…
- in the path we all share as human beings
- and in the path as Christians living boldly for Jesus Christ.
And I have to add…as your mom…I can’t imagine a mom loving her daughters more. I love you both more than words can express.
I love you forever (really!),
P.S. – The beautiful photos featured this week were taken at the Atlanta Botanical Garden when I visited with a great group of women from my church.
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