Often life throws up circumstances that change our outlook and philosophy. Some of our beliefs and understanding of scripture can be overturned overnight when the unexpected happens.
I shared the belief that in life there are peaks and troughs, hills and valleys, rain and then sunshine and that both are essential like you have summer and then winter, day and then night but it has never occurred to me that it is possible to have both summer and winter, day and night, rain and sunshine running side by side! That seems a misnomer, isn’t it?
Well, I had an eye opener reading an interview with Rick Warren by Paul Bradshaw.
Rick Warren is the acclaimed best selling author of 'Purpose Driven Life', a book that has sold over 15 million copies. He is the Pastor of Saddleback Church in Carlifornia.
The book sales made Pastor Warren suddenly wealthy and popular, a crowd puller in any conference. Everyone wanted him on their lists of guest speakers.
Incidentally, Rick‘s wife, Kay, was recently diagnosed with cancer and suddenly he was visited with a summer and winter in parallel. He said ‘last year was the greatest and he toughest in my life'. His experienced changed his belief that life is a series of mountain and valley experiences, and it could change yours too
In this interview, Pastor Warren was asked ‘What is the purpose of life? ‘This was part of his response:
‘In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.
‘One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be
the end of my body-- but not the end of me. I may live
60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend
trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up
act - the dress rehearsal.
‘God wants us to practice on earth what we will do
forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God,
and until you figure that out, life isn't going to
‘Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one
now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting
ready to go into another one. The reason for this is
that God is more interested in your character than
your comfort. God is more interested in making
your life holy than He is in making your life happy.
We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's
not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in
character, in Christlikeness.
‘This past year has been the greatest year of my life
but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting
cancer. I used to think that life was hills and
valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to
the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that
‘Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe
that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track,
and at all times you have something good and
something bad in your life. No matter how good things
are in your life, there is always something bad that
needs to be worked on.
‘And no matter how bad things are in your life, there
is always something good you can thank God for.
‘You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on
your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're
going into self-centeredness, "which is my problem, my
issues, my pain."
‘But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to
get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.
‘We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of
hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to
heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very
difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her
character, given her a ministry of helping other
people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him
and to people.
‘You have to learn to deal with both the good and the
bad of life. Actually, sometimes learning to deal with
the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all
of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it
made me instantly very wealthy.’
Are you going through day and night, summer and winter, hills and troughs, triumphs and trials at the same time, and you’re wondering ,’What’s going on?’ Is the trial trying to overshadow the triumphs and causing you to lose your focus? Are you getting confused about what’s going on? If so, you can see that you’re in good company. You simply have to ‘learn to deal with the good and the bad of life.’ God is always working in us to bring out the best in us. He knows the best way to do it. Gains often come with pains, maturity with adversity, breaking and battles with blessings and they don’t always come separately as we can see from this interview.
This is Rick’s recipe for the different moments of your life:
‘Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.’
May you recognise your seasons in life and what God is doing in those seasons. May the eyes of your understanding be enlightened to appreciate the hope of His calling, the height and depth, length and breadth of His love for you. May you see through His eyes as you seat with Him in heavenly places. May you always look to Jesus, the Author and finisher of your faith and patiently endure your cross to the end, even as He did. May the God of all Comfort, comfort you and flood your mind and your heart with His River of Peace that transcends all understanding.
Pain Precedes Gain
May be God's megaphone,
The food, fuel and fire for passion,
The trigger for praying,
The mirror to seek and see God's face,
The wakeup call,
The unpaid guardian of the soul.
May be a blessing in disguise,
Though I cry like Paul ,
Take this thorn away!
But draws you closer to Him.
Is your pain the alarm
Of the Great I Am?,
A call to sanity,
An arrest for the best,
Paving the way for His reign?
Pain may tame,
But may make us win the game.
Pain may drain but also train
Us to let Him reign,
Trust, come shine or rain.