Fairy Tale Poison
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20
When I was in a teenager, looking forward to the future, I didn’t imagine going to treatment one day for an addiction to drugs. I planned, rather, on a comfortable life with a beautiful family. Those things aren’t necessarily wrong in themselves, but the comfortable life didn’t cause me to grow the way my struggles have. It has been in the times of misery that I’ve learned to follow God. Only at the end of my self-reliance and success could I begin to understand what it meant to walk by faith.
This seems to be the tone of Christ’s message in today’s passage where he says that it is the poor who will find the kingdom of God. It is the hungry who will be satisfied, and it is those mourning who will truly learn to laugh. He goes on to say that those who are self-sufficient and successful are actually worse off in the end because they will never truly find the kingdom of God.
None of us wants to experience life-trials. We all want the fairy tale life. The problem is that the fairy tale is poison to our spiritual life. In getting the material life we want, we usually become spiritually complacent. In our apathy and self-reliance, we don’t learn to rely on God. We still believe in him in our minds, but we don’t truly follow him with our feet.
Of course, no one makes it through life without trials, which is, according to today’s passage, a good thing. Trials teach us dependence on God. Or at least that’s when we should learn faith. This doesn’t mean that everyone who suffers automatically finds God. The point is that in our suffering, we must turn to God.
In the midst of suffering – self-inflicted or not – it’s difficult to be thankful for the misery. What we can and must learn to do though, is to continually turn to God. What is it you want me to do here God? Give me the strength to do it. This isn’t to say that all suffering is inflicted specifically to shape us. The lesson though, is that God uses pain to grow our faith. It is only in faith, that we can know true life, joy, and peace, despite our circumstances.