David’s article about Dystopia struck a particular chord in me. I am familiar with the novels/movies he used as examples and I enjoy pointing out gospel connections to these stories. But if I’m honest, the chord his article struck goes beyond my interest in how to segue these popular stories into gospel conversations.
This world is so filled with both beauty and horror and it takes a some heavy spiritual exertion to have a right and balanced attitude toward both those realities. I don’t know about you, but I’m not always successful in finding the balance. How often I try to cling to all that is good and beautiful, to surround myself with a fortress of friends, family, all that makes life good. Do you know what I mean? I find it natural to try to create a personal utopia with all the good things that God has given me – and of course that is impossible, because pain is part of this fallen world. Being beloved of God certainly does not exempt us from suffering – just ask Jesus!
Even during those golden periods of time when personal pain is at a minimum, there is so much suffering in the world around us that it is tempting to become emotionally detached … because if we don’t, we might be overwhelmed by the pain and grief that afflicts this world. And yet God is calling us to rejoice in Him … always. How do we do that without hardening ourselves to the tragedies of life?
To be able to rejoice in the good that we can always find amidst our own suffering, and to do what we can to care for the sufferings of others amidst our own joy is challenging, but not impossible. I think I am better able to appreciate God’s good gifts when I remember that they are just a glimpse of the ultimate good that awaits us when we are with Him in heaven. And I am better able to handle the suffering, both mine and other people’s, when I don’t kid myself into thinking that we can have heaven on earth. I think that Jesus experienced joy and sorrow at the same time. That’s our reality … for now. There will be a time when He wipes away every tear from our eyes and there will be no more sorrow, sickness or death. Until then, I don’t have what it takes to keep a balanced, joyful and yet sensitive-to-suffering-approach to all of life’s ups and downs. But God does, and His Spirit can work in me to bring about that balance if I ask Him to… And He will do the same for you! His perfect love can cast out our fears—fears about our own suffering or about entering into the sufferings of others. And that same love wants us to enjoy without clinging to, all the good things He is pleased to provide.