Back in my youth minister days, I had a situation where someone confided in me about a situation in their life that required me to take some necessary actions, that this person did not want me to take. I had to end up going behind their back in order to do what I was required to do–the right thing to do. When they found out, they felt, understandably, betrayed and hurt.
It’s one of those situations where I had no choice but to do “the right thing”. It wasn’t an option. But it didn’t make it any easier. I can’t imagine how impossible it would have been to do the right thing if I’d truly had an option. My friends and confidants all assure me, “You did the right thing.” But sometimes I have to ask, “Why is the right thing to do, always the hard thing to do?”
I was reminded of this incident when someone I know confided their seemingly impossible dilemma to me. I won’t go into specifics, but he was faced with a literal life-and-death situation, where his choice was between enduring a potentially short life wracked with suffering, or ending that life now. Despite my best efforts and concerted prayers, this person listened to the advice of all the so-called medical professionals he’d seen, and chose death.
And as I sit and reflect on that, another question floats around in my head: “Doesn’t God want us to be happy?”
Is God so capricious, that He sets up a world where doing what He wants you to do costs you everything, and nothing good comes from it? Where following Him means you hurt all those around you? Does He get some sort of twisted pleasure out of us killing ourselves to obey Him, or else condemning us for pursuing our own happiness?
It’s only in my lowest, darkest moments that I could really believe that. But after a lifetime of experiencing His love, peace, and joy in following Him and striving to do the hard, right thing, I realise that there is more going on than my immediate, selfish emotional response. God brings consolation to our hearts.
And as we continue to grow in Him, sometimes He doesn’t give us that consolation, just as the owner of a dog doesn’t always give the dog a treat for performing a trick, so that the dog doesn’t perform the trick just for the treat. Instead, God asks us to follow Him because He is God, and we love Him, not for what He gives to us, but for who He is.
And behind it all, there is a plan, and He’ll let us know what it was…someday.
But in the meantime, God gives us Grace in the hard times, in the suffering. In our suffering, we can draw closer to Christ, who drew close to us in His Suffering. And in uniting our suffering to His, we grow in Him, and He uses that offering to change the world.
So, God, I’ll follow You as much as I am able. Make me able, and carry Me. Use my sacrifices to work Your Will in this world.
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