You have probably heard the phrase that hindsight is 20/20. Things are always clearer when we are can look back with perspective. When we are in the middle of a messy situation, it is the pain of the moment that captures our attention. C.S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Many of you are facing challenging circumstances such as chronic pain, grief over the death of a loved one, the loss of a dream, a painful transition, financial stress, the dissolution of a relationship, consequences of past sin, or simply the stress of life in a broken world. When we are in the midst of a painful situation, we are forced to address the pain. God is at work even in your pain. God will not waste your pain, but is redeeming it to produce what is good, gracious, and beautiful in our lives. I love the reminder from Romans 5, “We know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Psalm 114 teaches us that the moments of our life are not merely isolated and disconnected events. They are part of God’s good design both for us individually but also for the world. For the Israelite family that was dying of thirst in the wilderness, God’s provision of water was merciful and life giving, but as we zoom out from that event, we see that it was also serving an even greater purpose. God was teaching Moses something through that event of which the average Israelite probably wasn’t even aware. The individual focused on quenching her immediate thirst, might have missed what God was teaching her about his character. God was preparing that very story to point to an even greater need that we all have for salvation—salvation through the living water of Christ. He is the ultimate Rock that was struck to give us life. These are all truths that were probably hidden from the dad who just wanted to make sure his baby didn’t perish from dehydration.
I love the illustration of this concept of perspective in the Perceptual Art of Michael Murphy. Up close his artwork appears to be a collection of junk—individual items suspended in isolation. But when you stand in the right spot, the beautiful appears. The individual pieces don’t change, but a transformation of meaning takes place. Our lives are like that. One day with the perspective of Heaven we will look back to see how every piece made sense. Our church is also like that. Up close we are just a collection of individuals with a lot of brokenness and personal strengths and weaknesses, but from God’s perspective we show the face of Christ. The church is the Body of Christ. Just as God called Judah his sanctuary, God is transforming us together as his church into the place where his presence dwells. Our individual lives are being built up and brought together by Christ to be his holy temple. The Apostle Peter called us “God’s special possession that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” So be encouraged brothers and sisters, God is showing his promise keeping faithfulness even in the middle of your mess.