In Genesis 3, God promised Adam, in response to his sin, that life would be difficult. From his fall to the end of the book of Revelation, the promise of pain, suffering, difficulty, and personal challenge has been the norm rather than the exception.
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We’re all under the curse of manifold suffering. From birth to death the painful effect of the fall is ever-present. Even redemption through Christ does not make us immune from personal problems.
It reminds me of the heat of the sun. Retreating to an air-conditioned room can be a respite from a hot summer day, but that is not a solution that will permanently protect you from the sun’s awaiting intensity.
The summer sun is my parallel analogy to personal suffering. You may find a break from time to time, but you’ll never be completely free from suffering’s presence. Just as heat is part of God’s plan (Genesis 1:3), so is suffering (1 Peter 2:21) to mature us into Christlikeness.
You are aware how heat brings life to the plant kingdom. Are you aware how the Lord permits personal suffering to mature you? (Cf. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, 4:7, 12:7-10) Our kind and generous heavenly Father permits heat into our lives to protect us from ourselves.
The humbling effect of suffering’s heat should create a personal dependency on the Lord. Sometimes running to God is not the case when difficulties happen. Rather than softening the heart, the heat can harden its recipient. In such situations, the issue is not so much about the sun (problems) as it is about the condition of one’s heart.
- When the Lord brings heat into your life, what is the effect: hardening or softening?
- Does heat draw you to the Lord or press you into a bitter rut?
Many times when I find myself in the heat of life, I am tempted to curse the sun rather than perceive the Lord’s kindness to me. My “cursing of the sun” is about as helpful as a man standing in a field cursing the literal sun because it is hot.
Flailing away at the sun will not bring satisfying results; it will only intensify the problem. The “sun curser” can no more change his situation than the person who is angry at their adverse circumstances.
One person experiencing difficulty responds in sinful anger. The next person in a similar situation responds with humility, patience, forbearance, and perseverance. Why is this so? Why does one person curse the sun and the other perceive the Lord’s restorative work through the heat stressors of life? (Cf. Genesis 50:20)
- One is mature. The other is immature.
- One is humble. The other is proud.
- One is perceptive. The other is ignorant.
- One is grateful. The other is discontented.
- One is wise. The other is foolish.
- One is faith-filled. The other is fearful.
If you submerge a sponge in a pitcher of water and take it out and squeeze it, water will come out of the sponge. Why? There was water in it. Rocket science, ay?
When the Lord brings a negative situation in your life, take note as to what comes out of your mouth (Luke 6:43-45). What comes out will give you an accurate assessment of the condition of your heart.
- Is your pattern to curse the sun when things become difficult?
- Is your pattern to perceive the Lord working in your life when things become difficult?
Your normal responses to life’s challenges reveal the quality of your relationship with the Lord (and with others). Sovereign God loves you so much that He will not refrain from bringing heat into your life to help you become more like His Son.
There is a good chance the difficult people in your life are instruments of righteousness in the Lord’s hands to shape you into a vessel that is competent for use in His world. Give these things some thought the next time you’re tempted to curse the sun.
Also published on Medium.