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In Genesis 3 God promised Adam–in response to his human altering blunder–that life would always be difficult (Genesis 3:17-19). From the fall of Adam to the end of Revelation the promise of personal problems, relational difficulty, and situational challenges make up what it means to be human.
You cannot escape the effects of a fallen world no matter how hard you try, which is why your response to disappointment must be more than finding an escape plan. Trying to mitigate difficulties is not a bad idea, but learning and maturing in spite of your challenges are essential.
And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you…
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread…”
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I like to use the analogy of the sun and heat. The sun is a constant in our lives, and with the sun comes heat. You can find temporary relief from the heat. You can retreat to an air conditioner. You can pour another glass of iced tea. Still yet, there is this ubiquitous reality that it is there.
Even during the “cool times” you’re aware of the sun. And though it leaves you for the evening, it will soon make its diurnal appearance. One way or the other, the sun is forever with you. You must deal with it and its effects–the heat.
The analogy is clear: God has deemed it appropriate to allow heat into your life. It’s inescapable. Heat is part of His plan. Heat is one way the Lord motivates you toward humble dependence on the Lord.
Heat is a means of grace that draws you to God. Of course, the Lord’s heat can also be used to harden your heart (Exodus 8:32). The sun can melt the wet snow as well as harden the wet dirt. It is the same sun with two different results. Different results are why you want to consider the heat and its work in your life carefully.
How you answer the question is the difference between life and death, freedom and captivity, and joy and sorrow. If you curse the sun, as though the sun is at fault, you’ll miss the point of the heat in your life.
If you see the heat as a means of grace to shape you toward the Lord, you will not only understand the purpose of the heat, but you’ll benefit from it.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. – 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
There have been times in my life where the heat of the sun (suffering) was bearing down on me with such ferocity that the temptation to curse the sun was intense (Job 2:9). Figuratively cursing the sun for the scorching heat in your life is as nonsensical as a man standing in a field on a hot day cursing the sun.
Cursing the sun is not just a missed opportunity. It’s worse than that: it exacerbates the problem. The discouraged farmer cannot change the sun anymore than you can stop the heat in your life by cursing it.
Let’s illustrate: What if you took two plants and sat them side-by-side, under the heat of the sun. The sun is equally pouring its rays on both plants, but one of the plants is not able to withstand the heat. It withers away. The other plant flourishes. It’s thriving under the heat. Where do you want to fix your focus: on the sun or the plants?
One person experiencing difficulty will respond in anger or anxiety, both are, in effect, cursing the sun while another individual in a similar situation responds with grace, humility, patience, and a desire to learn. Two disappointed people with two different results.
Another good illustration is the sponge immersed in water lesson. After the teacher pulls the sponge out and gives it a squeeze, water comes out of the sponge. The teacher then asks, “Why?” The students answer, “Because there was water in the sponge.” The teacher responds, “Correct. What I’m talking about is not rocket science.”