Welcome, 2012! Some people I know are very glad to see you send 2011 packing. Last year they lost a job, or buried a husband, or tried to end their lives, or watched their marriage disintegrate, or got deployed, or watched a romance fall apart, or… [feel free to fill in the blank].
I hope that many people get to walk a different path this year. “God, mend their relationships, heal them, provide work for them, dig them out of that financial hole, give them a new friend, may they see daylight at the end of the tunnel.” But the gritty truth is that like last year and all the years before it, skulking in the shadows of times of joy and happiness, lie disappointments, regrets, sorrows, and tragedies that mean to appear at the most unwelcome times. What then?
I know we’re all ready for prosperity. But the rest? …I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Writing this from prison makes the author credible. Suffering’s been his experience, not simply a hypothetical possibility. In fact, his bona fides include frequent beatings, being stoned and left for dead, whippings, threats from his own people, being shipwrecked, sleepless nights, threats from robbers and rivers, and being cold and exposed to the elements (2 Cor.11:23- 29).
Paul insists that for the Christian there’s more to life than simply hanging on for dear life when the bottom falls out. What he means is not that Christ is an invisible swim buddy who keeps you from emotionally drowning, but that by going to the cross for us, the worst life can throw at us has been rendered toothless. Which puts everything else in perspective.