15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
Seth Godin titled one of his articles, “‘But what if I fail?’” The first sentence in the article says, “You will.”
It is an irony of life. We learn to win by witnessing and experiencing failure. We get knocked down, we pick ourselves up, we dust ourselves off and go on, hopefully avoiding the same fate by not doing the same mistakes.
If we learn from the experiences we observe and go through, then what of pain and suffering? What of death itself? Well, I don’t know a lot, but I think I have a clue.
There is an economic principle of scarcity. The more rare something is, the harder it is to find, then the more material worth something tends to have. Gold isn’t worth any more than silver because it is functionally “better”. In fact, pure gold is soft and can be easily broken up. Silver is also quite malleable, but “slightly harder than gold” (Wikipedia, “Silver“). If we are looking for strength, gold is not the answer. No, it is just more rare than many other metals, although the perceived value and its use in jewelry are an important factor.
Are life, happiness, good health and decent living conditions a rarity on this planet? It may not be fair (and probably isn’t), but we in the industrialized world can expect to live longer, eat better and get better treatment if and when we do succumb to illness. We tend to forget that others in the world do not have these same resources.
Yes, I think that’s it. “We tend to forget…”
That is, we tend to forget until we are faced with impossible obstacles. It might be the illness or death of a friend. It might be the job loss of a family member. Maybe a prayer request triggers the remembrance. Or, maybe we ourselves wake up and realize that we too are mere mortals.
If I am sounding morbid, then I invite you to read the Book of Ecclesiastes sometime. These things and many more are outlined in it. Ever wonder why God inspired such a morose book to be in the Bible? It teaches us of scarcity. It teaches us to be thankful for what we have while we still have it, for tomorrow none of it may be here. It teaches us that our entire lives are in God’s hands.
Satan may be the ruler of this planet, but he is most often unseen. No one can point and say, “There he is!” No, we don’t see him, but we see his workmanship. We see the devastation, we see the suffering, and sometimes we ourselves feel the pain.
And, we see death. Eventually, we ourselves die. If Satan is the unseen king, then death is his visible prince.
17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
Death rules! However, there is also a greater power than death itself, and that is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. How did He conquer death? Through death! It sounds confusing to put it that way, and it certainly sounds ironic, but through the very thing that Satan has used as a tool, Christ has triumphed over him!
Death is the enemy, but Christ has defeated it when He defeated Satan.
26 And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.
We were made mortal for a reason. We were made fallible for a reason. We were made able to fail for a reason. We were made weak for a reason.
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Again, it sounds contradictory — ironic, even. Yet, Paul wasn’t saying he was strong by his own might! No, he said he was strong because of “the power of Christ [working] through me”!
The Puritans taught that the chief end of man was to glorify God. Since we are part of His creation, the entire creation including us brings glory to God (Col 1:16). Peter told the Church to do all things to bring glory to God through Jesus Christ (1Pe 4:11).
How is this done? By doing the impossible! By parting the Red Sea, by bringing His people out of Egypt, by changing and transforming lives, by ridding the world of sorrow, evil and pain, and by resurrecting His children from the dead!
Who will be His children? Those who realize life is a gift and not a right. Those who understand the scarcity of happiness and joy. Those who have no reason to turn back to the broad and wide highways of pain and sorrow.