Does God exist for you or do you exist for Him?
I don’t think there is a more critical question for us to answer. The way you answer orients the direction of your life and also sets foundational expectations upon which you will evaluate the quality of your life. Our secular culture has convinced us that our life is only about us, and that happiness comes from a greater focus on self, which has actually led us to greater emptiness.
Our self-obsessed western culture has dramatically affected how we answer the question. We think the world revolves around us. Individual rights have become the paramount value in our society. The default purpose of life is my happiness and my comfort…and nothing should get in the way of that.
And, even worse, spiritual people carry that same value into our spirituality. We think and act and pray like it’s God’s job to exist for our own wellbeing. He exists to make my life better, less painful, and more comfortable.
We treat the God of the universe like He is our personal assistant.
We think the best way to represent God is when our lives are healthy, prosperous and all-together. Not only is this incredibly unbiblical…it’s an insult to the millions of God’s people around the world who suffer daily and who still choose to constantly worship Him.
The weight of scripture clearly shows that our greatest opportunities for growth and spiritual vibrancy come in times of suffering and pain. It is clear from personal and biblical history that when all is well in my life, I drift from His presence. And conversely, when all is not well in my life, I draw closer.
If my salvation came through the suffering of Jesus, why do I think the process of becoming like Christ won’t happen without pain? Do I truly believe that God is completely sovereign and in-charge even when I hurt? Or do I believe in a cosmic duality; that I am the victim of a tug of war between good and evil?
I am way more comforted by the fact that God knows and allows my pain. He uses it to glorify Himself and to make me more like Him.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” - Romans 8:28–30 (NIV)