So, anyway, I was sitting at the kitchen table, helping Peg make some cole slaw. After I'd stirred up the dressing, she brought me the cabbage, so I could finish chopping it.
We've got one of those things that has a handle on it, with a circular cutting blade on the other end, and you just pound on the stuff you want to chop up. Peg had already cut up the cabbage with a knife, so it was (comparatively) easy chopping. After a few minutes' at that, I stopped to rest my shoulder, and let the pain (the right shoulder is "shot" due to arthritis .. well .. that's the technical term my doctor used, anyway...) subside, and Peg noticed. She asked if my wrist hurt and I told her it was my shoulder and she said "Oh .. I forgot", and said the cabbage was OK; that I'd done good.
We finished the slaw, then.
That got me to thinking about the travails that Jesus mentioned, in this life, and that took me back to the Garden of Eden. A couple of thoughts then connected, that hadn't, before this morning.
When Adam & Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God immediately swooped in and changed everything. He changed the ground rules, He changed some of the rules about how the race would be continued, and how man would feed himself and his family. And nearly everything else that touched them in their lives on earth. Illnesses, sins, persecutions, and all.
First thought .. the one I'd had for some time: God's action was redemptive. If it had been punitive, God would either have simply taken their lives, consigning them immediately to outer darkness, or He wouldn't have done anything at all, simply letting them go to their deaths unredeemed. But God didn't do that; He was consistent with His redemptive purposes, and set in motion a plan for the redemption of mankind, that ended at a Cross and an Empty Tomb.
So the redirection of Eve's interests, the pain in her childbirth, and Adam's assignment to toil & sweat, were the actions of a redemptive God.
The twofold thought that came my way via chopping cabbage was this: first, not only was God's assignment for Adam & Eve redemptive, it was also perfect preparation for eternity. And, if God is at all consistent, then, similarly, the trials, tribulations, and sufferings of this life are God's perfect preparation, in us, for eternity!
I don't know about you, but I do want to be prepared, God's way, for Heaven!
Some time ago, a dear friend had an unexpected problem crop up in education. One which produced no small amount of anguish. I asked "What if this is exactly what God had in mind for you?"
Wow. That thought seemed very meaningful, and certainly ended the outward evidences of disturbance in my friend. Well, maybe that was the tip of the iceberg, in this line of thinking. That everything we experience in this life is perfect preparation for our life in eternity. That there are no extraneous troubles, or whimsy, coming from God's direction.
Of course, I'm not talking about the earthly results of our willful sin, but even then, God is still, always, redemptive.
I happen to think that, once Ananias and Saphira got to Heaven, they would've seen what the results of their sin might have been, and been thankful to God that He took them out of there before more damage could accrue.
We're blessed folks. Enjoying a good retirement, to the thanks and praise of God; we've generally had good health. I've got arthritis which bedevils me every day, but that's just pain. And there was that prostate cancer, which was taken care of .. thus far .. by a gracious God acting through a small army of doctors.
Peg's had breast cancer several times .. she's been clean for years now but still bears the after-effects of a double mastectomy .. and she has plenty of aches and pains, too.
But, in the context of being God's perfect preparation, of us, for eternal life in His presence, with none of these problems there, how could we do anything other than rejoice in our infirmities?
Let us know if you think of a way.