I heard a thought-provoking lecture on suffering yesterday at BSF. The speaker explained how she has endured suffering and learned through experience that the Bible’s stance regarding suffering is true: God will not let us be crushed. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed,but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).
My BSF leader then followed up her affirmation of this biblical truth with the following statement: “Therefore, I choose not to fear.” I think this is one of the most profound statements I’ve heard in a long time. Because we often live in fear of what could happen, and shudder when we hear about the suffering of others. We rightly observe that there is so much pain in this world, and maybe it’s natural that all of it scares us senseless. We act almost as if it’s our duty to be worried: only an irresponsible, uncaring person would fail to worry, right? It may be popular, it may be natural, but it’s not biblical. What an interesting juxtaposition to witness this petite woman make such a brave statement: “I choose not to fear.”
Today I’ve been analyzing how this principle has played out in my own experience. Have the people in my life who’ve endured tremendous pain been crushed? My mom hasn’t. As you may know, she endured an unbelievable season of grief where she lost her sister, her husband, her brother, and her son in a three-and-a-half-year span, and only her sister was physically ill where we knew death was imminent.
But she was not crushed — she most assuredly was closer to despair than perplexed. But she did not give up. She did not abandon her faith. She was not destroyed.
I’m sure you must be wondering why on earth I titled this post “Celebration.” It’s not a mistake. We have dear friends from Virginia here this weekend — one is little Will’s best friend since kindergarten and the other is one of Nate’s very best buds. We have been counting down the days till their arrival. We love these boys, and what a great reason to celebrate! I sat down this morning thinking I would write about how important it is to build celebrations into our lives. I decided to pull Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline from the shelf and read the chapter on celebration. But what I read surprised me. Foster wrote, “The spirit of celebration will not be in us until we have learned to be ‘careful for nothing.’ And we will never have a carefree indifference to things until we trust God.”
Is it possible to truly celebrate and be anxious at the same time? Of course not.
Which brought me right back to yesterday. Can I really celebrate the gift of having my boys’ friends here without adopting this beautiful, intentional stance? I choose not to fear.
In fact, I want to choose not to fear each and every day, despite how many terrible things could happen. I want to take all my burdens and cares to Jesus — to lay them at His feet and to trust that He is working it all out. And when the occasion comes to celebrate, I want to celebrate with my whole heart.
Have a wonderful weekend.