“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”
“Do all things without grumbling”. That isn’t so easy to do in everyday life, much less during Lent. There are so many things to grumble about! Money, or the lack of it. City traffic that is just out to keep you from getting where you need to be. The waiter at the restaurant getting your order wrong. The water in the shower being a little colder than we would like. Someone smacking their food at the breakfast table. Not being able to eat meat on Fridays… There are also many things to grumble about that are much bigger and more serious than all those. Losing a daughter in a car accident. A husband and father being hospitalized… again. School fundraising money being stolen. A mom battling cancer for the fifth time.
This past weekend we babysat five children under the age of 7. We were trying to pick out a movie to watch Saturday evening and we let them all vote on the film. They ended up choosing to watch Elf (yes, the Christmas movie). One of the girls, Avila, began to cry because she didn’t want to watch that movie. Marc, the three year old boy, also did not want to watch it, however he did not cry. He simply sat up with a huge smile on his face and declared “I.. am not ..cryin!”. A simple way to choose joy in the midst of a moment worthy of grumbling!
The problem is that when we face situations worthy of grumbling and questioning, we tend to look away from Jesus. When we look away from Jesus it is much easier to grumble. ‘Why this, why that? It’s not fair. How come? I don’t deserve this. I don’t want that’. This is a huge test of the Christian. Even now during Lent, if we forget the reason that we are making sacrifices and fasting, it becomes very difficult to carry on in our Lenten practices.
The questions that we must ask ourselves during the hard times of life are not “why”, but instead “how”. How can I be joyful? How can I grow in this? How can I offer this up? How can I unite my suffering to Christ? How can I be a witness to sacrificial love for the sake of those around me?
The key to this is for us to act in the fullness of our identity, “blameless and innocent, children of God, without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” We take hold of these difficult times and rejoice in suffering, offering up everything in joy and love so that “in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” Every suffering, from the slightest annoyance to the greatest heart ache, can lead to an eternal peace and end in everlasting joy.
We won’t always understand suffering, and that is ok, because the purpose of suffering is not to help us grow in understanding, but rather to grow in love, service, prayer, and unity. Keep your eyes on the King and remember who you are, a prince (or princess) of the Kingdom. A Kingdom where suffering is no more. A Kingdom where smiles and hugs abound. A Kingdom of true peace and rest. A Kingdom of love and laughter, praise and glory. A Kingdom worth dying for.
Written by: Lindsey