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The Hated Bath

The Kingdom of Sam is typically at peace these days. Years of internal strife and external warfare have given way to a quiet, contented normalcy.

What a gift.

However, I will say that, when life is constantly good and consistently peaceful, it is not as easy to cling to the Lord. This is not a negative; on the contrary, it’s what God means when he promises,

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psa. 37:4)

But when I am talking with people who are in pain—I mean real pain—I often tell them that there will come a time when they will look back on their current situations with a certain bitter-sweetness because they will remember how the Lord endeared himself to them… and how wonderful it was to cling so tightly to him.

And as things get better, try as they might, they just can’t recreate that intense closeness… that feeling that he has them firmly in his grip. It is sort of a mountain-top experience while in the valley!

So, with a nod to the world-class thinker who God used to wake me up from my self and my culture-induced coma 15 years ago, here is a delightful observation from C.S. Lewis about why we should thank God in all circumstances as trials do bring us closer to him:

My own experience was something like this. I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down.

At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ.

And perhaps, by God’s grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strengths from the right sources. But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys; I am even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me under the threat, because it is now associated with the misery of those few days.

Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear. God has had me but for forty-eight hours and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me. Let him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over—I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not on the nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed.

And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.[1]

[1] C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 93.

 

About the author

Sam Hunter

Sam Hunter is the host of South Carolina’s Christian radio talk show, 721 Live, which helps people to apply the Bible to their everyday lives. He has produced two DVD curriculum series: Contentment: The Path to Peace and Fear: Do you React in Fear or Respond in Faith? In addition to speaking to men’s groups weekly as the director of 721 Ministries, Sam is invited frequently to speak to groups at churches, retreats, high schools, and colleges.