One of the things that confounds me, as a parent, is the refusal of my kids to take their medicine, even as they are crying out in pain. It’s particularly annoying in the middle of the night (you know, those few nights when it’s actually me getting up instead of my long-suffering and faithful wife, Angela).
It’s quite illogical, really, for kids to refuse medicine that not only has the power to relieve their pain, but also can heal them of the sickness or injury that is making their little lives miserable. And yet, there a kid squirms, mouth closed, head shaking in refusal. As good parents, we practically have to hold them down and force the medicine down. Then we have to tell them that this medicine–the medicine we just forced down their mouths–is for their good. Trust me, we tell them.
But just when I begin to shake my head in disbelief at my kids’ lack of logic, of trust, of common sense in all of this, I’m reminded of my own attitude toward God’s good medicine. How often do I refuse what God designs for my good, because in my childishness I think I know better than He does what is best for me. It even may be at the same time I’m complaining to God about pain in my life. And so God, because He’s a good Father, often has to force the medicine into my soul.
Now to be sure, sometimes God’s medicine, like the medicine we get from the drug store, doesn’t taste very good. Even when the label assures you it is “cherry flavored,” the aftertaste reminds you it is still medicine. Even if you tell your kid it tastes like bubble gum, they know it really doesn’t. It’s like this with the hard medicine God asks us to drink. Yes, He gives us grace in trials. Yes, we have the body of Christ to help us endure the worst of life. And most importantly, yes, we have the hope of future resurrection, where faith will be sight, where these decaying bodies will be transformed into eternal ones, perfect and fit for heaven.
Still, pain hurts. The Fall continues to crush every area of life. Even Jesus wept at death. Paul longed to shake off the dying flesh and be with Jesus. Jeremiah lamented. David vented and wept and longed for renewal.
So Christian maturity is not so much the fiction that medicine tastes good, that trials really aren’t that bad after all, that to follow Jesus means unending prosperity and happiness in this life. Maturity is more about perspective, putting away the childishness that refuses the sovereign medicine of trials, allowed by the Father, ordained because of His loving desire to mold us to be more like His Son. It’s saying, with a wry smile, “I may not like what God is making me drink now, but I trust Him. I will accept it.”
We don’t always do this perfectly, which is why we need grace. The grace of One who did take that cup of suffering, not because it would make Him better, but because by accepting this cup, we might be renewed. He trusted the will of His Father so that we could taste the grace of forgiveness and experience resurrection.