Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Pleasure and the Pain

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Friday, January 25, 2013:  Genesis 50:1-Exodus 2:10

But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.  Exodus 1:7 (NKJV)

But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel.  Exodus 1:12 (NKJV)

There are two elements that should always be at work in us.  This may be surprising to you, but they could most easily be described as PLEASURE and PAIN.  We see these two in the story of Israel in Egypt.  They are at the same time FRUITFUL and AFFLICTED.

I can get excited about the "pleasure/fruitful" idea.  But, I have reservations about this "pain/afflicted" picture.  So, we should look at it a bit further. Paul actually talked about it a lot.  One of his most autobiographical passages (II Co. 4:7-15) talks about treasure (pleasure) in an earthen vessel (pain).  Despite the incredible pressures of life and ministry, Paul remains faithful. He summarizes with these words:

10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus (PAIN), so that the life of Jesus (PLEASURE) may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.  II Corinthians 4:10-12 (NIV)

I find it to be true that the pressures and pain of life can be the background and context of our greatest fruitfulness and advance.  It was while Israel was being severely tested and afflected that they became so fruitful and strong that they filled the land.  

The implications for each of us is obvious.  We can spend our lives longing for some far away lifestyle of ease and pleasure, while all along our best moments are in the midst of the fires of testing that can produce the highest joys imaginable.  Such is the wonderful contradiction of life in the Spirit!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, again, for your words of encouragement.