It gets said a lot, but it’s true: Things make more sense after the fact, looking back, in retrospect. Sometimes, the context of the whole event span of time enables understanding of the event with more clarity. I wish that were always true, but sometimes, things will not make sense before we stand in the presence of our Creator in heaven.
I play an online video game that arranges two teams in competition. I believe it really struggles to fairly balance teams, and members it puts into contests. But I also believe that is a “feature” not a “flaw”, at least from the designers perspective. I’m pretty sure that they count on players getting frustrated loosing and opting to spend money on the game to improve their competitive abilities.
Until I remember that, I can get very frustrated. But, eventually, I get it, I remember that it’s a game, that this is supposed to be somewhat unbalanced. But something inside me still cries “That’s not fair!” And it isn’t. But it’s not supposed to be either.
Being disciplined can be like that too. Often, we don’t see what’s happening as “beneficial” except in retrospect. And this isn’t just true for our relationship with our Savior either. Think about how brilliant your parents become the older you get. So, we should not be surprised when we discover, in retrospect, the wisdom of our Savior in His treatment of us. The first-century disciples of Jesus struggled with this very thing, and here’s how the writer of Hebrews addressed it:
Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.Hebrews 12:9-11 NASB (Emphasis mine)
In retrospect, it often makes sense. A lot of the time, looking back, the context of the entirety (or as much of it as we can see) gives meaning to what our Savior does. Is it a “universal truth”? No, unfortunately not. We don’t have the full context yet, and even then, we may not really understand everything. But this we can be sure of, our Creator, our Father in heaven, disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness.
Knowing that may not make it easier to endure. Being told to just wait it out, endure to the end, may not ease the pain any. It probably makes it more painful. We want to see the light at the end of the tunnel and know it’s not a train. Sometimes, it is a train. But as we are “run over” by that train, remember this:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.2 Corinthians 4:7-11 NASB (Emphasis mine)
We’re not home yet, and so, there’s still work to do, struggles to endure, and a bright shining home ahead. One day we will stand in the presence of our Creator and Savior. One day He will wipe the tears from our eyes. We will be a part of a “mega-church” worship like we can never imagine. We will all be changed. But for now, we trudge sod of this world, joyfully seeking the next.
Such good thoughts, Matt. Thank you. I often make myself stop in the middle of a Bible story to imagine what they felt at that point, not knowing what was coming next. Not knowing is a critical point for us. We could read to the end too quickly and think how nice for them to have such a good or powerful outcome. But they wouldn’t have known at that midway point what the outcome would be! So what were they thinking and feeling and processing? How much anxiety did THEY experience? What kind of despairing thoughts might they have had? And it reminds me that my God is trustworthy and sovereign over my circumstances. If He says He loves me, He does! If He says He works all things for good for those who love Him, I can believe that too! Regardless of what I see right now, regardless of whether I’ll see it at all before I reach Heaven! And my heart is calmed. Thank you for talking about this! Come over later, we’ll keep talking! ❤️
I would love to come over! Or you here, you’re always welcome to join us at the edge!