I just read through a brief blog post that served to remind me of some simple essentials that will help guard ‘right thinking’ in response to life’s circumstances.
Here’s how Don Carson recently replied to a question about suffering during a Q&A. (This is a lightly edited transcript from 13:37 to 14:40 in the audio file.)
- We grew up in some of the suffering of French Canada.
- I’ve had typhoid because I went to Africa and came within death’s door.
- I’ve had two or three other diseases that have almost taken me out.
- My wife’s had cancer that has almost taken her out. She didn’t expect to live to 50; she just turned 59.
- But that’s part of the stuff of life, isn’t it? And if you’re a Christian leader, then sooner or later you go through situations in churches and relationships that are really tough. The most painful things I’ve ever borne are betrayals by Christian friends.
- Some of you will know the name Roy Clements. On the Tuesday of this particular week, we got the diagnosis of my wife’s cancer, and it was bad. On the Thursday of that week, I and five others got the letter from Roy Clemens telling us that he was leaving his wife and going to proclaim himself a homosexual. My wife and I cried much, much more over Roy than we ever did over the cancer.
Related: John Starke summarizes the talk that preceded this Q&A and then links to other MP3s from Carson’s visit to Australia in December 2012.
Carson’s point is pretty specific here and maybe you or I can immediately relate, but I’m glad for the general reminder of the need to be careful how we think about our circumstances, struggles and suffering. While somone (myself? you?) might be completely preoccupied bemoaning one thing (that might seem like an unbearable burden at the moment, i.e. “Abraham, take your son Isaac up the mountain and kill him”) there are other battles being waged and the implications might even be more dire than our comfort – mental, emotional, or physical.
The Apostle Paul, we know, didn’t have an easy go of it… right? So how can he call it ‘light momentary affliction’ unless he is looking beyond the circumstance by faith. Hmmmm.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)