Our current society puts great emphasis on instant happiness and good health. Never before in the history of mankind has nutrition overall been better than nowadays, yet everywhere we are suggested to improve our intake with supplements and pills to avoid deficiencies. The health industry seems to have tailored solutions for even the minutest problem. Cosmetics and beauty surgery are on the rise. The tourism industry proposes distant locations to recover from our busy everyday lives.
None of the above is wrong in an absolute sense. But as a matter of fact, the process of learning contentment through endurance and patience cannot be replaced. For man to reach maturity and move towards his ultimate goal, the experience of certain hardships cannot be altogether avoided.
In certain christian circles pain and suffering are entirely attributed to a lack of faith. Yet these experiences seem to be an essential part of human life in general and of the christian in particular. After all, even Jesus Christ who was completely without sin, had, as a man, in a certain sense to mature through sufferings. The letter to the Hebrews states that “although he (i.e. Christ) was son, he learned obedience from what he suffered” (5:8).
The instant happiness chased by the vast part of our culture, ultimately has no value in itself. Jesus once spoke of a man who had been “living gaily every day” (Luke 16:19), but who was terribly shaken when he found out all this had gone forever.
These days there’s a lot of talk about the health care bill that is passed through Congress. It is, admittedly, an important issue Americans (as well as others countries) have to face. But regardless of which side you’re on, I wonder whether we would not be better off caring more about our spiritual health and trusting God more for our physical needs.
No doubt, the advances in medical science have tremendously improved the life of man and are, of course, to be pursued. Just think of the reduction in infant mortality and infectious diseases. But modern man’s obsession with eternal youthfulness is not in line with the reality of our deteriorating bodies under the curse of sin (cp. 2 Corinthians 4:16).
It is amazing to learn of people who endure tremendous suffering, but yet admit not to be willing to miss the lessons they have learned in their particular circumstances. That should remind all of us that our earthly life is not supposed to be completely painless and that sometimes hardships are used by God to draw as closer to Him. Famous king David had grasped this long ago when he declared: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word” (Psalm 119:67).
Let us first of all put our lives in God’s faithful hands, even when consulting a doctor now and then. After all He gave us this promise: “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaia 46:4).