Recently I was called upon to facilitate a follow up intervention for the emergency crews who responded to a tragic car accident. A sixty-one year old man was arbitrarily stopped at a red light on his way to dinner when all of a sudden another car traveling at a very high speed hit him from behind. The driver of the out of control car had a seizure behind the wheel, which unfortunately ended up causing this horrendous accident. During the seizure the driver’s legs fully extended which inadvertently caused him to push down on the accelerator ending with a high-speed crash into the man who was stopped at the light. It was one of those random incidents where it would appear that someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In an instant, this dear man’s life was extinguished with no warning at all. The absurdity of situations like this sometimes just doesn’t add up within our limited grasp of how the universe would seem to be governed.
The book of Job in the Scriptures directly deals with this quandary without making any excuses for life’s difficulties. In his despair, Job came to the conclusion that life at times seemed to be random. There are situations that occur when apparently good people suffer and evil people prosper. It wasn’t until God spoke in Job 38-42 that we hear the Lord’s perspective. Once again, God doesn’t give us explanations, but rather He clearly asserts His sovereign and majestic ways as being eternally beyond our finite reasoning. Through trials and suffering, God is about cultivating His people to grow within the dimensions of His hope. The Lord instructs us to not only believe in His loving purposes, but to also trust Him through even the most dreadful circumstances. Our pain becomes the means by which God redeems our brokenness to transform us into the likeness of His Son. The equation of God’s activities finds its ultimate meaning within His eternal results.
Aligning with this concept, the Apostle James boldly wrote in James 1.2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Not only are we encouraged to endure hardships, James also declared that we should count it a joy, knowing that God is doing a good work within our character that exceeds reason. It is within this perspective of God’s sovereignty that we must trust in the Lord’s calculations to work all things together for an ultimate good and glory.
The Apostle Paul also confirmed this concept when he declared in Romans 5.1-5, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” It is the eternal presence with Jesus Christ that becomes our perspective for hope. Hope is the objective reality of being in God’s presence forever. And it is this same hope that Jesus anticipated through the suffering He Himself endured.
In Hebrews 12.1-2 it states, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
It is awesome to contemplate that Jesus endured unimaginable suffering, knowing that He would have the joy of being with His heavenly Father for eternity without end. It is also this very means by which Jesus would provide our ultimate joy and our heavenly access through His shed blood. Jesus’ example should give us pause to reflect on our priorities within our eternal blessings that are often in contrast with our immediate temporal gratification. Years ago a friend of our ministry, Tim Hansel, quipped, “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.” As such, it becomes our choice to hold fast to the eternal outlook, which is the conduit for immeasurable joy.