The Sparrow and the Heart: The Heart (Part 3)

There are some Christians for whom pain is only an illusion. They parade around as if they’ve never encountered a difficulty or a trial that they couldn’t happily endure. They always have a smile on their face, and the seem to believe that to feel sorrow and to weep is to demonstrate  lack of faith in God. Such Christians are naive at best. Pain is a reality, even for Christians. The Apostle Paul experienced real sorrow. In fact Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” episode highlights for us the possibly of genuine Christian sadness.

In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Paul speaks about the humbling “thorn” given him by God. But note that Paul does not pretend like this thorn is no big deal. The text tells us he “pleads” with God three times to have it taken away. That word “plead” means to persistently implore, i.e. Paul begged God to take it way. Paul, like so many of us, sat with his head in his hands crying out to God for relief. He begged to God to change his circumstances. Paul expressed real genuine sorrow, this is not a game for him!

Those Christians who would tell you that true followers of Christ don’t suffer are either ignorant or liars. They have either not yet experienced life or they are lying to protect some illusion of Christianity that they derived from their own minds. It is not true that Christians don’t suffer. We can sometimes have this view, of course, that says if we have good theology then we won’t suffer, at least not long. But that has not been true historically, nor is it true Biblically.

The theology of the Wounded Heart reminds us that it is okay to grieve, to weep, to hurt, to have pain, and to cry. This is not a sign of spiritual immaturity or weakness, it is a sign of honest evaluation. It is a sign that you believe something is wrong with the world, and it is call to trust and lean deeper into Christ. That ‘s what Paul does, and we will look at how that plays out next week.

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