Some time ago I was driving to my office when something unexpected happened. A man and a woman – apparently a couple – were in the middle of the road arguing. The man tried to hold the woman’s arms and suddenly, they were both pushing each other and yelling at each other. I got out of my car and quickly approached the man and asked him to stop harassing the woman. To my surprise – big surprise – she turned to me and said: “Mind your own business. He is my husband and he can treat me any way he wants!” I was shocked. I ended up calling the police just for their own safety, but I realized that day that you could be doing the right thing and still get in trouble!
Has that ever happened to you? Try to do something good and bad things happen? It has happened to us all. We try to be honest but get rebuked, we confess our weaknesses and are taken advantage of, we open ourselves to love and get betrayed… the road that leads to a righteous life is full of potholes and obstacles. Sometimes it becomes so difficult that we would rather quit. As Christians this is even harder, because this isn’t just a matter of morality or ethics, but it is a matter of our relationship with God.
However, this is not something new. The Bible is full of examples of people who did the right thing and ended up in trouble for it. In fact, I would like to argue that the moment we accept the message of the Gospel we enter into a direct confrontation with the world. Just how difficult is it to be a Christian today? How difficult is it be a Christian in school, at work, in our family? It has been difficult to be a believer in every time in history, precisely because the Gospel puts us at odds with the world, with its values, its ideals, its definitions… with people.
Wouldn’t it be easier if God took care of all that? He could take us to live in a world where we didn’t have to struggle with those things. It would be nice if God would take care of our problems once and for all. But apparently, that is not part of his immediate plan! He seems to be more occupied in our transformation than in our happiness. And this transformation takes place in those moments when we feel like we can’t go on. Now, if anything was disclosed about God in Jesus, it is that our God is a suffering God. Not only does He understand our trials and struggles, but in Christ, he has endured them as well. As the apostle Paul said: “His power is made perfect in our weaknesses.” (2 Corinthians 2:9).
Life is not a bed of roses, but that is not the kind of life he promised us. He promised us His presence. We need to remember this: God did not give us a strategy to face the world. He gave us a promise; he did not give a method. he gave us his Son. And He calls us to live and minister in a world that is hostile to our faith, but it is a world He has already conquered through suffering and pain on the cross. So, next time you feel like throwing in the towel, remember the promise He made to us:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33