|You can't see, but this is my "It's all good" t-shirt.|
While I was in the hospital, I got asked, "How can you say 'It's all good' when you're enduring chemotherapy, mouth sores, hemorrhoids, and hospital food?" (I added the "hospital food" part for effect, but it's appropriate.)
It's the goal, not the path, that matters.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trial, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must produce its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4, Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Mia Hamm, considered by some to be the best women's soccer player ever, once said that the picture of a champion is not one of a person at the end of a match with her arms raised in jubilation. The correct picture of a champion is a person bent over, sweat dripping from her forehead, gasping for breath long after everyone else has gone home.
Is that fun? Does a person feel great when he's covered in sweat and gasping for breath far away from the jubilation of a sports match? Is it a joy to limp around the day after an extra long workout, having to grab the table to lower yourself into a chair to eat dinner?
But it's all good because the champion's eye is on the goal.
A couple days ago I got a book in the mail. It's called The End of the Spear, and it was signed by the author, Steve Saint, son of martyred missionary Nate Saint. It said:
Shammah, Thank you for being a mentor to Austin and a great example in difficult times to the rest of us. Steven Saint.
You should read Steve Saint's story. Difficult times? I don't know anything about difficult times. What an incredible honor!
The same day or the day before, someone I don't even know wrote on Facebook that she was laying in bed, not wanting to face the day, and she thought of me in the hospital. She then said she dragged her healthy body out of bed to take on her day.
So are those things worth laying in bed, being in enough pain to talk about hemorrhoid treatments with a female nurse I don't even know.
Yeah. Without a doubt.
That's why it's all good.
[Jesus], for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame ... Consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won't grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 12:2, HCSB)
For Jesus it was betrayal, abandonment by friends, a whip, a crown of thorns, and finally, crucifixion. All for the joy that was set before him.
Photo by Kabir, used with permission
Winning me. Winning you. Giving us a better way to live.
Steve Saint's father was speared by a primitive South American tribe. Afterward, they hacked his father's body with machetes.
No surprise. 60% of the deaths among the Waodani were murders.
Steve Saint's aunt went to her brother's killers to show them a better way to live. Eventually, his father's killer would become a mentor to him.
(It should be noted here that Elizabeth Elliott, wife of Nate Saint's friend Jim Elliott, went with Steve's aunt to her husband's killers to show them a better way to live.)
I've seen a video of his father's killer in India, far from his tribal home in Ecuador, wearing clothes and teaching pastors how to perform dentistry in primitive Hindu villages in order to help make an open door for a Gospel that teaches men and women to love, to treat each other as equals, and to stop killing one another.
It's one small part of the joy that motivated Jesus the Christ to despise the shame of his condemnation and endure the pain of the whip, the crown, and the cross.
I can see Jesus, despite the incredible tragedy of the situation, looking down at bystanders and whispering, "It's all good."
I've Got to Add ...
Jesus Christ was God's Son, the eternal Logos (see my book, In the Beginning Was the Logos), and for him being a champion meant the most incredible suffering and winning the world.
Most of us have lesser goals and lesser suffering.
Most of us also seriously underestimate the power of a kind, brave, and stable heart. People not only notice such a heart, they lean on it. Such hearts affect others unnoticed because only a few who lean on such hearts talk about the benefit they've received.
Kind, brave, and stable hearts are not born into human beings ... at least not into most human beings.
Most of us have a long road to kindness, courage, and stability.
I believe we're made by God and that his intention for us is to be of benefit to everyone around us. (Who can deny that it's a human's greatest joy?) I believe the route to kindness, courage, and stability is not easy because he meant for us all to feel the thrill of being an overcomer—a champion; conquering ourselves to become someone that is useful every day.
I believe Jesus died to give us the power to walk that route. We don't have to do this alone. We can actually be among those who are empowered by the Spirit of the Living God.
It's not always a glamorous route, and self-denial never gets to feeling good.
But there's magic in that route.
A rough route? Yeah. But it's all good.