No Pain

All of us are well aware it is flu and cold season in our part of the world. It’s almost impossible to escape its clutches and many people suffer through a series of ailments for months. Yet how can we complain when so many suffer with more serious illnesses that take extensive treatments to cure, if at all? Pain and suffering are part of human life.

Statistics Canada says that we fill 300 million drug prescriptions a year (2005 figures), which works out to roughly 10 for each man, woman and child – or 3 billion dollars worth! That’s a lot of medicine to help us fight painful conditions.

In John’s final New Testament book, he describes “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev.21:2). Most people think he is writing about heaven; others believe it is a figurative picture of the church protected by God. Perhaps it is the latter but foreshadowing the former. My point is that He promises “there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (v4). Can you imagine an existence with no pain? John seems to imply there will be no more sickness either. At the very least, we understand that pain will be absent from heaven. Wouldn’t that be nice!

This is not just pie in the sky. Jesus successfully healed people from their illnesses and pain every day. He was the Great Physician, and He knew what He was talking about. One of my favorite passages in the New Testament is Matthew 4:23-25. “And Jesus was going about in all Galilee…healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people…all who were taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.”

Looking forward to a time when there will no longer be any pain helps us deal with our own struggles in life for the present time.

Relief is coming!

– Tim Johnson

A Christmas Tree Kind of Life

The wife of a friend of mine really loves Christmas. The Christmas tree goes up immediately after Halloween and stays up until late February. That’s a full one-third of the year! I like a nice Christmas tree too, but a month is enough for me.

Some people live a Christmas tree kind of life. They insist on extravagance, excess, lots of glitter and show, missing out on nothing. It’s an attempt to have the perfect life. Hardship and sacrifice don’t exist for them, for it doesn’t fit their lifestyle. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with some luxuries and comfort, but is that the point of living? Is that what Jesus died to give people?

We can learn from the mistakes of ancient Israel in Amos 4:1-3, where the wives of powerful men prodded their husbands for cash to spend on endless luxuries. They stooped to cruelty and extortion to get it. Amos warned that their spoiled and lustful ways would soon come to an end.

Is a life really worth living if it never experiences hardship, or doesn’t have to fight hard for good purposes, or is rarely kind to others? Something valuable is missing if we always insist on putting ourselves first, and always own the best.

Paul warned Timothy, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Tim.2:3-4). Soldiers have everyday lives too, but they’re not to become so entangled by it that they become ineffective. In this text, I don’t think Paul was simply trying to get Timothy to work hard. Suffering hardship wisely infuses life with wisdom and value. This is just as true for preachers as it is for anybody else. Life is not for selfish indulgence; sacrifice and service must play its part too.

Enjoy your Christmas tree, but don’t insist on a Christmas tree kind of life.

– Tim Johnson