Most human beings when they see trouble coming, head in the opposite direction. That would seem the most sensible thing to do. Yet, trouble is not just an inevitable aspect of living, it is a constant. If we spent our whole lives running away from life, what quality of life would we have? Sooner or later, we must pitch our tent somewhere. It’s a bit like the character played by Tom Cruise in the film ‘Far and Away’, driving his stake into the ground in the open fields of American soil, to claim his land. After leading a nomadic existence for many years, that was to be his home, come hell or high water!
The same may be said of the space occupied by our souls. Trespassers and squatters are not welcome! Even loved ones are not to be allowed to invade our space for too long. I’m not talking about sharing physical space here, and I’m certainly not promoting the lifestyle of a recluse which only suits a small percentage of people. Most of us crave and thrive on human company. I’m talking about the extent to which we let people and life’s twists and turns mess with our heads. You have to get to the point where you determine – “well, if I have to die or go through whatever it is I’m currently facing, so be it, but I’m not going to bow out without a fight, and I’m certainly not going to lose some vital aspects of my personhood in the process such as:
- my peace of mind
- my dignity
- my sense of values
- my sense of purpose
- my faith in God.
We humans are so skilled at avoiding trouble that we have developed diverse ways of doing so, from hypochondria to avoiding responsibilities, drowning our fears in drugs or alcohol, to escaping through mind-numbing entertainment and the fantasy world of television, films and make-believe. We’re so afraid of trouble that we imagine it when it’s not there or so blow it out of proportion, as to end up in hospital with hypertension, ulcers or cardiac arrest. Ironically, we are very good at bringing trouble on ourselves even though it is the very thing we are seeking so desperately to avoid.
But God is so unperturbed by trouble that He went ahead with creating humankind even though He foresaw their rebellion and the need for a painstaking and bloody salvage operation by way of Jesus Christ’s atonement for the sins of humanity. And whether atheist or humanist, we cannot deny the unsavoury truth that “there is none righteous, no, not one…”(Romans 3:10). Try, as we might, we veer unto the selfish path sooner or later; in fact, most live quite happily on the path, seeking their own selfish ends. The Bible makes an astounding statement – that God predestined Jesus’ crucifixion even before the foundations of the world. In fact it actually says that he was “the lamb slain [past tense] from the foundation of the world”(Revelation 13:8). God lives outside of time so for Him the past, present and future merge. This means that whatever we are going through, God already knows the outcome.
So why would he let you be born for trouble? Job asked the ultimate existential question –
“Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, who long for death but it does not come…?”
I often think that if I were in God’s shoes, I would surely have shelved plan A – the creation of humankind, and proceeded with plan B – computerised puppets; or better yet, I could have the angels stage plays from time to time where they could pretend to be human, and so when the drama got too dicey, God could issue a curtain call and normal, trouble-free life would resume as normal. But, thankfully, I’m not God.
Perhaps, trouble is a tool God allows, for a higher purpose. Perhaps, if there were no trouble, we would not seek God and yearn for a perfect world? Perhaps, that is the purpose of each life – to engage in and accomplish something which will make the world a bit more like the place it was always supposed to be. Perhaps, we must pay a huge price, just as God paid a huge price, before the perfect world He intended, can be restored. Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, trouble was never meant to defeat us but define us.