Thursday, February 26, 2009

Can We Fix It? Yes We Can. But Should We?

I'm taking a class in secular psychology as it relates to the Bible as it relates to Catholic Mysticism.

Trust me, it's way more confusing than it sounds.

One thing that is jumping out at me is that every effort to conciliate psychology and biblical counseling is based on the assumption that we are supposed to be happy, and that when we are not happy, something is broken and it must be fixed.

Prior to me becoming a Christian and God taking our economy away, I made a decent amount of money through stock owned in Barr Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, and Tyco International; the effort to make ourselves feel better through any means available is big business. Antichristian author Thomas Jefferson set the ball rolling two-hundred years ago when he wrote that we have the right to the pursuit of happiness. Certainly we have the ability to pursue happiness, but should we?

Recently I had several events come together, most of them my fault through scheduling errors, overscheduling, lack of rest, lack of forethought, letting down friends on accident, a girl, ect. not necessarily in that order; Beloved, I felt awful. For weeks. The only thought on my mind was, "How do I fix this?" I did indeed fix it, and now I'm back to my old jocular self. And I'm sort of angry at myself for having fixed it, but it has proved to be a valuable learning experience.

Paul writes that we are to rejoice in all circumstances. For some reason I read that and thought, "Be happy in all circumstances." But that's not what he said. While I was seeking to be happy in all circumstances, what I ought to have been doing is rejoicing in my sadness by remembering that this present evil age will not last forever, that Christ has defeated death, reconciled me to God, and given me a peace beyond all understanding. I should have sought not to cut my season of sadness short, but to rejoice in it that as Paul says, "suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

In instantly setting out to fix my suffering (albeit suffering may be too strong of a word to use), I inadvertently deprived myself of growing in endurance, growing in character, and growing in hope. I'm reminded of my dad's words that "just because you are a character doesn't mean you have character," and beloved, we can all use more character, more hope, more endurance, not for our own sake, but for the sake of those we minister to, and ultimately for Christ's sake that he receive the glory by proving that his grace is indeed sufficient and his power is made perfect in weakness.

So, this is easier said than done, but I encourage you to rejoice in all circumstances, know that God will use all things for good to those that love him. Don't let happiness be your end goal, if Christ had sought to avoid pain to the exclusion of all else, beloved, we would be entirely deprived of hope, but because he had the glory of God as his ultimate goal, we have become more than conquerors through him who loved us and gave himself for us.

So, when faced with affliction, hardship, and sadness we can pop pills from Pfizer (whom I no longer own stock in), or we can look in the mirror and say, "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and [Don'tcha Know] It, People Like Me!", or we can trust in God who raises the dead, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God, even when we despaired of life itself.

For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. Let us not shrink from bearing the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. For he will use all things for good to those that love him.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. For the sake of Christ, then, be content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.

Can we fix those things? Indeed we can, but for your sake and Christ's, please don't be so brash in doing away with suffering. God created this world with the purpose of demonstrating the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and if we go around happy to live in a sin-soaked and destroyed world, we miss the point completely.

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