As I’ve gone through this pain, I’ve started to notice the prayers that we tend to pray: “Give us this or that good thing, make this or that smooth, take away this or that trouble…” That’s what I prayed at the start of all this – “God bring my husband back NOW so we can reconcile and things can go back to normal.” Things HAD to go back to normal. Normal was good. Normal was smooth. Normal was comfortable. Once things were normal again, THEN I could move forward in life. Right?
Is the purpose of life that everything be smooth and comfortable?
I think we will tend to answer “no”. But in reality, we find ourselves chasing after an ideal life with comfortable and smooth circumstances.
Are smoothness and comfort a bad thing? Should we wish ill on ourselves? No, of course not. This desire for smoothness and comfort is in fact central to our nature as spiritual beings. We are wired and meant for a heavenly place of perfect smoothness and comfort, of perfect peace, rest, acceptance, safety, and joy. We long for that ideal place. Every day.
The problem is, we’re looking for the smoothness and comfort in the wrong places.
So I go back to my question: What is the purpose of life?
Is it for my marriage to be reconciled? For us to move forward with a certain set of predictable, comfortable circumstances that seem right to me?
After two years of experiencing indescribable joy in the midst of my own life shattering, I have realized that this place of perfect peace is NOT found in circumstances of this natural world, in human relationships, in jobs, in completion of tasks, in success, in comfort. Those things are nice and good, but the purpose of life cannot be found there.
For me, the purpose of life now has to do much more with being content in all circumstances – whether in plenty or in want. Living out the greatest commandment – loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind.
To know God. To encounter His love.
Really? A God who allows pain? A God who let his own son be tortured and beaten even though innocent? A God who allows all the suffering in the world?
This God did not come to fix the world. At least not yet. He came to redeem it and overcome brokenness through Jesus… and to BE WITH US. To enter our pain. To enter our suffering. We have a God who can relate. Who can say: “I know what that’s like.”
I invite you to get to know this God with me. A relatable God. A redeeming God. A God who caused a symbol of torture to become a commonly recognized symbol of redemption, even 2000 years later. A symbol I saw by my feet in the elevator of my apartment in China on a day not too long ago, a day I needed a nudge from God.
I want my pain to be redeemed like that. I want to experience the “joy set before him” that Jesus experienced, a joy that enabled him to endure undeserved torture on the cross. I have tasted this joy, and I am hooked.
This joy has become better to me and sweeter to me than the smoothness and comfort of the set of circumstances that I envisioned before and desperately wanted before.
This joy I experience every time I meet with my mentor Judi, who at a critical time of pain for me last year, felt her heart stirred to commit to meeting and praying with me, even before she ever met me.
This joy is the joy of knowing an active, living, breathing God, who knows my every move. Who is pursuing me relentlessly with love and good things. Who gives me treasures of wisdom, laughter, insight and joy on my darkest days. Who assures me that He is bigger than all this pain, and that He will release exorbitant amounts of beauty from it.
This joy I experience every time God reminds me that he knows my heart, and things happen at just the right moment, like two friends showing up at my house the other day with roses and much-needed laughter.
Let’s stop chasing ideal circumstances.
“So, Corrie, what are your plans now? Are you going to stay in Shanghai? What are you going to do?”
Well, it’s really a simple picture that comes to mind now, every time I think of my future and how I want to live my life. It does not have to do as much with my circumstances anymore. It is a picture of my hand in God’s hand, walking through life together.
Entering a secret place with Him, and tapping into a spiritual realm that is in fact a taste of my true home, his kingdom come now, eternal life now, a supernatural place of smoothness and comfort, better than the smoothness and comfort of circumstances.
I can’t wait to one day enter it fully.