Is it ever going to end?
Have you ever found yourself asking this question? It usually comes to our minds when we are going through a rough time. Maybe you’ve just lost someone close to you, a job, a dog (not me. ever), or maybe you were just struggling in life.
Recently I found myself pondering this question. I felt like my life was on a treadmill, and that I wasn’t controlling the speed. There was so much going on I was just doing my best to catch up. The thought of getting ahead never crossed my mind. I felt like I had to do this. I alone.
I can’t catch up on my bills. I need a new place to live. I don’t know what I am supposed to be doing at work, or for work really. I want to quit and do something I’m good at. Something else. Something involving my degree. My thoughts were racing.
I had found myself wanting. But wanting what?
In my mind, my problems were bigger than I could handle. I felt like I had too much going on in life. Too much that I couldn’t control. Too much to handle alone. I wasn’t happy with where I was or what I was doing. I would find myself asking, “God, what are you wanting me to do? I feel like I’m called to stay, but shouldn’t I be doing so much more than this? Haven’t you given me these talents for a reason and not just to waste away? Why am I suffering in this tight spot?”
The sad thing is, it took a tragic story of death to humble me and realize I wasn’t doing so bad after all. But before you let the word death make you turn from this page, you may want to hear the story. You may have even heard it before.
Horatio Spafford was a very successful businessman who lived in Chicago in the 1800s. He had a beautiful wife, four daughters, and a four-year-old son. He was also heavily invested in real estate and the market was expanding. Life was going good for the Spaffords.
Then within a matter of two years, everything changed. In 1870, he lost his four-year-old son to scarlet fever. A few months following, the great Chicago fire destroyed a majority of the real estate. Two years later, after recovering from their losses, the family decided to take a vacation to Europe with friends. But because of work, Horatio stayed behind a few days and would meet his family there. After a few days, He received a cable from his wife stating, “Saved alone. What shall I do…” Horatio soon learned that their ship had a collision with another ship in the middle of the sea and all four of his daughters died in the wreck. The only thing he could do was set sail to console his wife.
As the ship set sail, he reflected on the past two years of his life, which were so incredibly terrible. After sailing a while, the captain alerted him that they were sailing over the site where his family’s ship had sank. It was in that moment that Horatio began to write down his reflections and his emotions. He then wrote was has become one of the most-loved hymns of all time.
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll:
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Horatio had faith like Job. In the midst of the open sea, after losing so much both financially and physically, he maintains his faith in God, knowing that Jesus is always there. Even in the midst of pain, loss, and hurt, he knew Jesus was with him.
Now here I am, babbling on about random tedious tasks, acting as if I am really struggling in life. When I read this, I looked across the table at a friend and felt like I had to read it to them. I had to share this with someone. I have no right to complain in life. If anyone has a right it was Horatio, and not even he did. I have no real reason to be unhappy, outside of sheer selfishness.
Wendell Smith used to always say, “How good does God need to be to you before you’re happy?” Ouch. Talk about a wake-up call. The answer is I’m an idiot. God is a good, perfect and loving God. I should get over it. I’m doing pretty well where I am. Luckily, scripture always has an answer for life’s questions.
So when you’re like me and find yourself asking God what the heck you’re supposed to be doing. Or why he has you where you are instead of doing something “greater” in your own eyes. Remember what He said through Jeremiah, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”
So, to answer the original question, Jesus answered it when he died: It is (already) finished. We will always have rough times, losses, and pains. Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows… But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
We are never alone. The Bible says, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me” (Psalms 23:4). In the last chapter, last verse of Matthew we find some of the last words of a dying man. Jesus makes a promise to us all. “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).
Jesus will never leave us. He will never abandon us. He is always here.