As I watched a reporter standing on a balcony in densely populated Gaza City, with flares flying behind him and explosions in the distance, I was reminded that I have no real sense of the depth of human suffering. I was sitting on my comfy couch in my detached single home dwelling in a clean and affluent community in a relatively peaceful country. Living in a war zone is only one on a long list of atrocities my fellow man endures every day. Sex trafficking, child abuse, gangs taking over neighborhoods, hurricanes, cancers, mental illness, tyrannical governments, abject poverty…the list is overwhelming.
And yet, I know even though comparing life sorrows can give a bit of perspective at times; it doesn’t take away the sting of each personal trial. Nor should it. Trials are not about one-upmanship. If it hurts, it hurts. If it hurts it’s a symptom of our broken world.
My story has its own set of heartaches and in the quite of the day or night lately I’ve been tempted to make a mental list of each current challenge or sorrow. When I made the error of starting that list it was rather daunting. A guest list for a pity party that I can’t afford to host.
I love and I mean LOVE Philippians 4:8,9 — “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.”
I chose these verses for my wedding ceremony. I’ve turned to these verses in countless times of disappointment, stress and fear. None of the things on my pity party list fall under Philippians 4. They may not fall under this list but they certainly need to be covered by this list.
A common suggestion when a person is facing a challenge, hardship or heartache is to press through it. Clench your teeth, pull up your bootstraps, say yes to success, etc.. Pressing through is only going to last so long before you’re going to be worn out. The pressing I want to do is press into.
I want to press into the truth of God’s Word. I want to press into God’s perfect love. I want to press into the lives God has put in my life. I want to press into the outstretched arms of Jesus. I can feed my affinity for lists by listing the truths I ought to be pressing into. I think I’ll start with:
1) Nothing can separate me from the love of God. Romans 8:39
2) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
3) No eye has seen, no ear has heard and mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:29