"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered Him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, "You will become free’?" Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:31-36)
Being a "slave to sin" doesn't just mean that we can't help but do bad things and think bad thoughts. We can't, but it also means that every single one of us who practices sin (i.e. every single one of us) is a slave to the results of sin. We are slaves to our ill-working bodies, to pain and suffering, the pangs of broken hearts and the agony of rejection. It's a fact made all too clear to me as I find myself once again shackled to this wretched I.V. filled with $8,000 worth of medication that creates nearly as much pain as it cures while I endure 5 hours of blood pressure spikes and leg-migraines. And as I watch this liquid that's literally worth more than gold make its way into my reluctant veins, I wonder: Do I have to wait for death to be set free?
Yes and no. Yes, I will be cured in heaven, but right here and now, I am as free to be miserable as I am free to be content. I am free to hate this stupid life of mine and everything that's gone wrong in it, and I am free to love it AND all the suffering it's heaped upon my shoulders.
That's Christians for you: free to be happy in misery. Who else can boast of that quality?? ...who else would want to? Suffering is a factual part of everyone's life, Christian or not, and I'd rather be happy with it than miserable because of it. Of course, it doesn't always work that way. Fortunately, I'm also free to be reminded that for crying out loud, my life isn't that bad. Lots of people have to be tethered to I.V.'s several times a week. Haven't you ever heard the saying, "I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet"? It's not from the Bible (Wikipedia claims it's either Persian or Russian in origin), but it's a good adage to ponder nonetheless.
Yeah, I should be content no matter what my lot, and not just because my lot could be worse. Jesus has secured my salvation, and nothing else should matter. SHOULD. As my college debate coach so often scolded in his best I-love-you-but-you're-kind-of-an-idiot tone, "Don't turn an ought into an is." If nothing else did matter to me, I wouldn't need Jesus in the first place. But the truth is I am a slave to sin. The truth also is: for the times when I'm not content, for the times when I so foolishly cling to the old, comfy security blanket of "Woe Is Me" and glare at my I.V. with tears in my eyes, there is forgiveness.
That's the TRUTH that sets us free. So, feel free to cry about your lot now and again. After all, it still hurts to have no shoes, I don't care how many feet you've been blessed with. Things are other than they ought to be, and that reality hurts enough to make the Son of God Himself cry (see the post "Lord, If You Had Been Here"). Today, I will open up my Difficult Day Box and wait for the good feelings to gradually replace the bad like they always do. Free? Indeed.
Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day is from John 8:32b
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
"The truth -------> 5 count inhale
will set you free." -------> 5 count exhale