If I had my way, life would always be as it is right now--quiet and calm, with our dog snoozing peacefully before the fire, my wife reading by my side; all is well in Never Never Land. But these moments are ephemeral, giving way to the trials and troubles Jesus promised we would encounter in life. At this very moment that we are at peace, others struggle with addictions, illness, persecution, poverty, death. The list goes on.
If you listen to many of the popular preachers in the media, you would believe that God always wants us well and trouble-free, with healthy bodies and bank accounts. It preaches well here in America, but what does this gospel have to say to our brothers and sisters in Iran or the Sub-Sahara, who live in fear of their lives, or for the faithful Christian woman who worships in a cardboard shack of a church and prays that God will protect her from her husband who beats her?
Our value system if not twisted, is at least different than God's. We value safety, health, prosperity, freedom. What does God value? The Scriptures tell us. Follow the word 'precious.' We value precious stones and such. Not so much with God.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:8
Listen to how God values his people in this Scripture: "But now thus says the LORD who created you, O Jacob, and he who formed you, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior... Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honorable, and I have loved you. Isaiah 43:1-4
The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:7
You were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain manner of life received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:18-19
I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious...Unto you therefore who believe he is precious. 1 Peter 2:6-7
Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ... by him are given unto us exceedingly great and precious promises. 2 Peter 1:1, 4
God values what we often consider worthless or even harmful; the death of his saints, the trial of our faith, the blood of Christ, the promises not yet fulfilled, the people he has chosen. Much of what in life is hard and difficult he places on the same level as the blood of his own Son. I don't have to understand it all, but I would be well to not disregard or diminish that which God values.
I am writing in comfort, but I see nothing in the Scriptures that indicates God values my comfort or prosperity. He values me; he values my faithfulness; he values the trials and tests of life that prove (or disprove) my faith. I like the comfort of my life, but it isn't the most important thing. Living faithfully so that at the end God can value my death by ushering me into his presence--that is the most important thing. When we go through deep waters, it is comforting to know that God values our testing as much as he values the blood of his own Son, and that he values his promises, among which is the promise never to leave or forsake us. For that, I am thankful.