Focus: Living happily ever after
Hebrews 12:7-8 (NIV) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.
In each fairy tale of our childhood, there was always a happy ending. The main character in the story had to overcome some kind of trial or conflict, and then lived happily ever after.
The American Dream is the idea that all people can have a happy and successful life if they work hard. Most people consider a successful life to be one that includes wealth…imagining that wealth brings happiness.
The romantic movies and novels of the last century almost always ended with a handsome man and a beautiful woman getting married and living happily ever after. We never got to actually observe the ‘happily ever after’, to know if it actually was happy and ever after, but we assumed it would be.
In reality, everyone goes through hardship. Hardship often comes in the form of sickness and pain. It’s hard for some people to equate hardship, in the form of sickness and pain, with living happily ever after. To some, happily ever after would only be possible if there was a total absence of suffering.
The Bible seems to indicate otherwise. Almost every story in the Bible involves a trial or conflict of some kind that was redeemed or resolved by the power of God. If you look at the whole thing, you can see how all suffering is an opportunity for God to come to the rescue. If there was no such thing as hardship, sickness, pain, and suffering—why would there be a need for God?
In the 1600s, there was an 18 year-old young man who lived in the area that is now eastern France. As he observed a leafless tree in the dead of winter, his life was transformed. In a moment, he became aware of the extravagant grace of God and His unfailing sovereignty of divine providence, as he contemplated the condition of the tree. He was able to have hope that God had a fruitful plan for his life, just like the now dormant tree would bloom in spring. He was flooded with a love for God that never stopped. Six years later, this man entered a monastery as a lay brother. He didn’t have the education to become a cleric, but became known as, Brother Lawrence.
In his lifetime, Brother Lawrence lived in very humble circumstances. He served in the monastery kitchen where he cooked and cleaned and was in constant service to his many superiors. He saw all of his acts of service as spiritual. Brother Lawrence felt that anything could be considered a sacred act, if the motivation behind it was right. He said, “It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.”
He approached his daily tasks with the attitude that everything he did was an act of love for God alone. He cooked meals, ran errands, scrubbed pots, and endured scorn with God at his side. His writings were compiled to create a book called, ‘Practicing the Presence of God.’
One of the most famous quotes from the book is this: “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.”
The statement that follows was taken from a letter he wrote to someone who was suffering from sickness and pain:
“I do not pray that you will be delivered from your pains, but I do pray sincerely that God will give you strength and patience to bear them as long as he pleases. The world, of course, cannot understand this. They see no good at all in sickness and pain. But those who understand that sickness can be used by God to advance His purposes can find in it great sweetness and true consolation. In fact, we can go so far as to say that God is sometimes nearer to us in sickness than in health. He can use diseases of the body to bring healing to the soul.”
As we live through pain that comes in various forms, we can be miserable, or we can embrace another opportunity to draw closer to God by being conformed to the image of Christ through suffering.
Declaration: I will find new strength by cultivating a better ‘God consciousness.’ I will view my pain and ordinary tasks as service to my King. In the presence of God, I will live happily ever after.
Information about Brother Lawrence drawn from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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