A Wonderful Life?
"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matt. 10:39). Last month, I attended a youth rally in Hemet, California. One of the speakers was Dana Scott, sister of Rachel Scott. Rachel was killed at Littleton, Colorado on April 20th, 1999. One of two gunmen pointed a gun at her head, and asked her if she believed in God. When she said "yes," the gunman shot her. But Dana was not on an anti-gun campaign, she was praising the Lord. All of the speakers that day were students from Littleton. They were Christians who were motivated to stand up before the world, and tell them why they follow Jesus as their Lord. Out of the pain of that day, they were able to reach into the lives of thousands of kids to give them hope, telling them about the promise of everlasting life. We were all praising the Lord that He could take something so terrible and so sad, and turn it into joy a thousand times over!
Two weeks later, I sat at the funeral service for Jack Butt, a man I had never met. I was invited to the funeral by Christine Jackson, who knew Jack, and led him to the Lord two days before he died of cancer. There were two services held for Jack. The first was held at a funeral home, with joy throughout the service, because the few of us who were there were Christians. We celebrated the two days of his life that he knew joy and peace, and the joy that he now knows in heaven. The second service was held at the V.A. Domiciliary, with many of the men who lived with him attending. We were able to share a message of hope and peace to these men, who rarely come to memorial services, because they do not want to think about death.
So often, during times of pain and testing, that is when God's glory is shown. Those are the times which make us grow. The Bible says that no weapon formed against us will prevail, (Isa. 54:17) and that "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37). Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). As Christians, we are not promised a life of ease and complacency. It is true that God has wonderful plans for each of our lives, but what does that mean? Paul said in 2 Tim. 4:6 "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that dayand not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." As Stephen was being stoned, he saw the glory of God coming out of heaven. Show the world a rugged cross and a life of innocence brought to an end, and see if they consider that to be "wonderful!"
Charles Spurgeon once asked "Is it not better to have the cross sanctified than removed?" Jesus told us to take up our crosses and follow him. Even though we may pray for a life of ease, and we live a life of pain, does God not know how to care for His children? Does he give us bad gifts? Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes "When times are good, rejoice! When times are bad, consider, for God has made the one as well as the other" (Eccl. 7:14).
In times of pain, when it seems we are lost, and sinking into the sea, we have the promise of God. He will never leave us, or forsake us. Continue praying to God, humbling ourselves, and relying on His strength, not only to save us, but to make us more than conquerors. This will bring glory to my Father, who has done so much for me. A life that can bring glory to the Lord of Glory is indeed a life that is wonderful.