“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).”
As an American, I called it an “indescribable gift.” Clint Dempsey of the USA side kicked a soft shot toward goal. The ball bounced toward England goalie Robert Green, who cupped his hands to block the shot.
Incredibly, the ball caromed off of Green’s hands and rolled toward the goal. Green frantically turned to his right, and slapped at the ball with his right hand. The ball kept rolling, and the goalie turned backwards, and lunged toward the ball and the goal. Too late. The ball rolled across the goal line and into the net. The score was now 1-1.
That result held up and the heavy underdog USA squad lingered on the field to celebrate. The English team made a quick exit.
The goal will go down in history as one of sports’ greatest muffs. It ranks up there with “Wrong Way” Riegels fumble return in the wrong direction in a college football game and Bill Buckner’s error in baseball’s World Series which allowed the winning run to score.
Riegels and Buckner were at the top of their game. They were excellent players performing for the top teams in their sport. Yet one mistake defined their careers.
Media accounts show that Green is taking his misfortune in stride at this point. The goal hasn’t destroyed him. However, I don’t think he has the same perspective as I do and sees his blunder as a present.
It’s tough to see the bright side when bad things happen to good people. There is something in us that makes us think that only the evil get the short end of the stick.
As Christians we see ourselves as the good guys. Therefore, when suffering hits we wonder why God is punishing us.
The fact is, we believers in Christ do suffer regardless of our efforts at righteousness. Job is the poster child for this truth. God called him “blameless”, but allowed Satan to afflict him (Job 1:8-12). Joseph did everything right and resisted severe temptation, yet he was falsely accused and thrown into prison (Genesis 39;2-20).
It just doesn’t seem fair. However, we might have a different take on our pain if we understood another truth besides the one which says we suffer despite our serious attempts to follow the Lord. This maxim says that trials are a gift.
Our suffering is a process which is getting us ready for some good things from God, either in this life or the next. Job’s trials despite his righteousness gave him a unique faculty, the ability to really know God (Job 38:1-40:5).
Joseph understood after his enslavement and time in prison that God’s hand was in it all. After he became the Pharoah’s right hand man, he told his brothers who had sold him into slavery,” “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:19-20)”.
In the eternal scheme of things, God is using our difficulties to prepare us for heaven. We may be groaning now, but the purging of our fallenness gives us hope for the forever we will have with God (Romans 8:18-25; I Peter 4:12-19).
I used to think that God’s gifts were such things as a wife and kids, a car and a decent place to live. While these are truly good things from God, they don’t compare with what he has in store for us.
Last night our pastor discussed how a diamond is made. He talked about how a big lump of carbon is grinded and scraped. Our pastor said that if the rock could talk, it would complain about its treatment.
The proof of the benefit, though, was in the before and after pictures he showed us on the data projector. The first shot showed a gray, lumpy, rock of carbon. The second shot showed the results of all the abrasive treatment: a shining, beautiful, lustrous diamond.
I’d rather be shiny a jewel for God in heaven then a craggy stone left behind to rot. So thanks God for your indescribable gift of Jesus Christ and also the present of suffering you use as the process to allow me to hang with Him forever.