The reality that doing the will of God is not always easy and comfortable, and that it may in fact include a great deal of hardship and suffering, seems to escape many people today. We live in an age where the tremendous accomplishments, of the human race, blind us into believing that there must surely always be an easier and less inconvenient route to the achievement of our objectives.
Just consider how many thousands and thousands of books are available in the bookstores, all professing to have the quick and simple solution to help achieve our objectives – success in business, wealth, beauty, health, perfect marriage, a happy family and so the list goes on. Consider also how successful the doctors have become at treating most illnesses and diseases; failing organs can be replaced to extend life for years; the effects of aging can be neutralised through plastic surgery; even changing your God given gender is possible through sex change operations.
This idea, that there must be an easier and less inconvenient solution, even reveals itself in the way people try to manipulate absolute moral principles. They argue that a loving God would not expect anyone to endure the hardship and suffering that could result from adhering to the moral principle. God will understand their good intentions, they claim, and therefore the immoral may on such occasions be considered moral.
Consider some examples that are so common today:
Homosexuals claim that a loving God would not want them to live their whole lives celibate and alone. Instead of accepting the moral solution available to them, namely celibacy, they manipulate the immoral homosexual act into a moral act. They claim that, since they were born homosexual, without any choice in the matter, God understands and condones their immoral homosexual relationship because their intentions are good and honourable like a heterosexual couple.
A woman splits from her very abusive husband because to stay would certainly result in her husband murdering her. However, instead of accepting legal separation as an adequate solution to the problem, the wife chooses to go one step further and wants a divorce, claiming the right to a ‘do over’. The moral solution of remaining single is considered too difficult to bear. Therefore, the immoral act of divorce is now manipulated, based on her circumstances, and turned into a moral act.
A person who is dying from an incurable disease and suffering incredible pain and hardship, chooses to make use of ‘assisted suicide’ to bring an end to the pain and suffering. The person argues that a loving God would not expect anyone to suffer the indignity and pain. God would therefore condone this act of mercy and once again, in doing so, the immoral act is manipulated into a moral act.
It is difficult to understand all the pain and suffering that we all, in differing degrees, face at times. We will also probably never, in this lifetime, achieve any full understanding of the need for all the suffering and hardships. This should not however lead us to manipulate moral truth to suit ourselves.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”[i]
When Jesus asked the brothers James and John: “Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?”[ii] James and John replied without hesitation: “We are able.” We must always answer Jesus in the same way. Yes, we are able to live exactly as you taught us. We are even ready to accept every hardship that comes our way because of it!
And, if we have any doubt that this is what Jesus wants from us, hear what Jesus says to James and John after they answer him: “You will drink my cup”. He doesn’t say they will be spared from hardships and suffering. No indeed, he says that they will suffer! As must we, in whatever way that may be, always offering the hardship and suffering we endure up to God, while actively resisting, with our whole being, the natural desire to choose a more convenient and less difficult path to follow.