Your dry tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth, and the glare of the sun reflecting on the sand makes your eyes glaze. How long have you been stranded here in this wasteland?
Deep trials rob us of the ability to see anything beyond this current pain, this endless stream of suffering. It seems the ache in our hearts separates us from all beauty and life. It’s not as if we can’t see the loveliness of a cherry sunset laced with lavender. The torture is that we can see it, but we can’t appreciate it. We see the happiness of other people and sincerely desire to be able to participate in their joy, but we don’t feel we can.
We look at the path ahead and see only the potential hurt it holds. We don’t remember that yes, there are good days ahead for us too. There will be days when that ache in your chest lifts, and you can see the sky again. No matter how blinding the sandstorm, remember that. Treasure it up, and know that the great beyond holds lovely things, beautiful things, and not just for other people. For you.
The voice in your head whispers that you don’t deserve good things in your life-that you truly deserve to have this misery continue for the entirety of your existence. That is true.
None of us deserve good things, and we do deserve every bad and horrible thing that happens to us. We shouldn’t act like we don’t. You know that your actions weren’t always good or well-intentioned, and the ones that were you did not out of pure love and devotion to what is right, but often out of pride and a desire to parade yourself. We all know this is true. And we all try to evade facing this fact, trying to convince ourselves it isn’t true.
We are not inherently good, and we do not deserve good things. Moreover, we do deserve bad things. Why?
What would you do if you created a being for the purpose of spreading beauty and telling others about goodness, and that being instead choose to spit in your face, ignore its created purpose, and evangelize not about good, but about ugliness and death and evil? Every human is guilty of this crime against our Maker.
We were created in the image of God. Our purpose was to enjoy God’s perfect goodness forever and to care for His beautiful creation. We rebelled against His intent, trying to become what we were not, and instead of cultivating beauty, we do evil.
None of us are inherently good. None of us can achieve good simply by trying, either. Once we have submitted to our sinful natures, they rule over us. We cannot break free. We cannot pay our debt. We are condemned by our actions. God justly declares us guilty. The irony is that after all this, we rebel further, making God a liar by telling Him we aren’t really all that bad, and screaming against the suffering in our lives, telling God we don’t deserve it.
If the picture was complete now, our lives would be meaningless and we would be justified in giving up all hope. But let your eyes lift to another portion of the canvas: God’s plan.
But our all-knowing God knew ahead of time what we would do. So instead of abandoning us to our fate and sentencing us to eternal death, He did something madly out of order.
Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth as a human-born to a young virgin girl.
He took the punishment that you and I deserve.
He died in our place, paying for our sins.
Nothing shattered the earth’s structure quite like the blameless Son of God coming to die for us, rebellious sinners.
But what shattered our understanding even more was what happened next.
Jesus didn’t stay dead. On the morning of the third day, He rose again, appearing to hundreds of people throughout the next weeks.
Why are these events so important?
When Jesus died, He was taking the punishment for our lives of sin and allowing God to justly offer the exchange Jesus’ perfect life to anyone who believed.
We simply have to trust that God will do it, then turn from our life of sin and rebellion to the new life that God will help us live.
If we don’t believe that this is true, then the life we are living now, full of pain and suffering and the effects of sin, is the best experience we will ever have. The afterlife for those who refuse God’s gift of salvation will be one of torment as we realize our folly and bear the punishment for our life of sin. But if we do believe, turning from our sin, then the sufferings of this life will be the worst we will ever experience.
We now have a hope to look forward to, and by faith can walk each day knowing that these burdens are refining us and preparing us enjoy God in Heaven forever.
We know that there is a blue sky ahead, even when we can’t see it.
So, my friend, look up. Look beyond these moments of pain, and know that there are wonderful things in store for those who choose to depend on Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. We will be able to experience pleasures forevermore, without the weights of sin or suffering clouding our vision.
Look up. Deep phthalo blue washes over the stars. Warm golden rays brush your face. Looking around you, you realize that the sand isn’t eternal, actually. It comes to an end-yes, see, there where the dryness collides with wet at the water’s edge. But above, the blue of the sky doesn’t end. It goes on, deeper, past stars and planets and galaxies and universe until you see that the beyond never ceases. Look up-there is something past that grey sky.