In our Life Group, the question was asked to define the perfect couple.  Immediate answers went to the things of this world – looks, finances, well-behaved kids; all the perceptions of success as our society defines it.  It was how I used to define so much but changes in my life have helped me bring a new vision of success to what I see.

Father Thomas Keating, in his book The Human Condition, says this, “Sometimes a sense of failure is a great means to true humility, which is what God most looks for in us.  I realize this is not the language of success, but we have oversubscribed to that language.  We need to hear about the interior freedom that comes through participation in the sufferings of Christ, the symbol of God’s love for everyone on earth.

It has taken some difficult moments for me to realize that I am promised nothing but suffering on this earth.  While Job was given a great deal after his suffering, I cannot believe the scars of what he went through left his mind but it never changed his love for God.  David, a man after God’s own heart, saw his family fall apart but he never changed his love for God.  The apostles faced beatings and prison but it never changed their love for God. 

What is it that makes me think I am different?  That I can have a “happy” life without all that suffering?  That going to church and contributing to my 401k is my means to an enjoyable future? 

The Bible is filled with people who suffered mightily.  One such story tells of a man who was beaten, his flesh ripped away from his body, people spit on him and then he was nailed to a cross to die.  It is understandable that he could be completely confused by the treatment because he was the son of God but his final words speak volumes about who he was…and who I must be.  Humbly, he said “forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.” 

I continue to pay my mortgage and contribute to my 401k and make plans for the future but I also know it can be taken away in an instant and that it very well could be replaced with suffering.  My joy is that each day I continue to accept that knowledge more living in the security that at the very worst, I still will not be called to bear all the sins of the world. 

I don’t want to oversubscribe to what success means to the world any longer – only to what success means in my relationship with my Savior.

Grace and peace to you.
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