But what about the person who is genuinely ill, or who is so old and feeble that he needs to rest after putting one sock on? Do I really think that going to church and spreading germs to the elderly and small children is going to make me feel better, and even if it did, wasn’t that awfully selfish of me? Or if pushing myself too hard could cause me to collapse during the services, what great good did that accomplish for anyone else? Yet sometimes these people do push themselves—they are in fact the ones most likely to push themselves--so they come and infect everyone else, because they have been made to feel guilty for not doing so by things I have come to call duck-billed platitudes.
I see another problem with some of these things—they smack a little of the health and wealth gospel. “Sacrifice for the Lord isn’t sacrifice if you really love the Lord.” Nonsense. Try that one on a first century Christian who is about to have his throat chomped on and his belly ripped open by the lions in the Coliseum. Sacrifice feels like sacrifice and God never promised anything else. What He did promise was that sacrifice is worth it. That doesn’t mean anything if you have annulled the pain of the sacrifice.
The things we need to hear are the true things. Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution...For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps, 2Tim 3:12; 1Pet 2:20-21. What we need is to be told how to endure what will surely come if we live like Christ did, not how to avoid it or worse yet, how to make it “fun.”
Sometimes life is just plain hard. That was the punishment we got when we were thrown out of Eden. Christians are not immune to that penalty, we are just forgiven for it.
Be strong, God is always telling us in His Word. Be courageous. It isn’t courage to turn everything into one giant tea party. That’s denial, and I see too many Christians living in that state. And this is what it leads to when you finally realize you cannot platitude your way out of it—“Why did this happen to me?” This is why: We live in an imperfect world, made that way by sin, which, no matter how much we like to believe otherwise, we have participated in. And it won’t get any better. Tragedies are a part of life. BUT---
We live in hope of a better world, a better place that will be perfect and will never end. That is what you need to remember, not a bunch of saccharine sayings on poster after poster after poster. I have something much better, and so do you if you will take hold of it. It does not tell us that everything will be wonderful in this life, that God will spare us from anything painful. Instead it promises pain, but it also says this:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:35-39.