Friday, April 17, 2015

Our Problems and the Fallen World

The third factor in the problems that we face is the reality that we live in a fallen world.  Ever since Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, things have not been the way they are supposed to be.  Jesus himself said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)  Here Jesus is informing us to ‘expect’ that at times things will go wrong here on earth.  As Christians we often have an inward attitude that things are supposed to go right for us.  We believe and expect that God is supposed to protect us from any harm coming to us.  When bad things happen we become perplexed and wonder why we are experiencing this trial.  We may even begin to doubt God’s sovereignty and his goodness.  This belief and attitude often flows from improper expectations of life and a minimization of the broken and twisted world that we live in.  I often say that we should really be more surprised when things go right, not when they go wrong.  By saying this I am not trying to paint a negative picture of the world we live in, just a more realistic one.  The reality is that at one point or another we are all prone to experience difficult times here on earth.

I was working with a woman who had a couple of disappointing experiences with dating men.  In both cases the men showed a strong interest, but when things began to get serious they panicked and bailed out of the relationship.  As we were processing her experiences she was asking questions such as, “What is God up to?  What does He want me to learn from this?  Is He sending me the message that I should not seek marriage?”, and “What am I doing wrong?  What am I doing that is chasing these men away?  There must be something wrong with me.”  The more we processed her situation the more I came to the conclusion that her disappointing experiences were significantly due to the choices that these men personally made to abruptly abandon the relationship.  Her experience was not largely about God trying to teach her some large lesson of life (even though God will sovereignly use this situation in her life), or due her own failures and responsibility.  Her trial was more about a human experience of life in a twisted and broken world where we are all broken people.

The truth is that Christians get diseases, are involved in tragic accidents, suffer at the hands of natural disasters, and experience disappointing and difficult trials in life.  To expect everything to go right all the time is to expect that we will have heaven on earth.  God has not promised us heaven on earth.  God promised us heaven in heaven.  In Revelation 21:1-4 we read, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Here we read that one day there will be no more trials, suffering, pain, or death.  As Christians we will one day live eternally with God in perfect harmony and peace.  However, the current reality is that here on earth we will have trials and suffering.

As we await Christ’s return and the ushering in of the new heaven and earth, instead of constantly swimming against the current of the fall, we would probably do better to turn around and learn to swim with the fall.
Swimming ‘with’ the fall means that we:
1. Maintain proper expectations of life on earth.
2. Continue to grow in our faith and trust in God, realizing that God is truly with us in the midst of every situation we face.
3. Learn to accept the ups and downs that life inevitably brings.
4. Maintain an eternal (heavenly) focus and perspective as we live out our existence here on earth.

“Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  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.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (II Corinthians 4:16-18)


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