So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)
There was another farewell this week and I knew this coworker well enough that I felt I could bring some proper closure to the whole thing. So in an email I wrote, “It's been a pleasure working with you. I pray for God's very best for you and your family….” Her response floored me. She wrote back, “God's best is a rare thing, Mark. Thank you.”
Now, in her current circumstances I should hardly be surprised that she would feel this way. She’s being forced out of her career, and because of serious health issues she does not feel as if she can start fresh with a new company expecting her new employer to be sympathetic to her situation. So, she is going into early retirement.
While I do not want to minimize her suffering, I can’t get those words —“God’s best is a rare thing”—out of my head. The Bible gives us a different story line. It tells us that the Lord is good to all that He has made—even in this evil, sin-filled world (Ps. 145:7, 9). But there is much more than this. Scripture is emphatic that the sovereign, all-powerful, all-wise God is able to take the worst conditions and events in life and actually stand them on their head and use it all for our good. The Christian knows that God works all things together for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
The apostle Paul who was no stranger to hard times shared this radical view on suffering. He said that he would not allow all the evil he endured to reduce him to a heap of rubble. He would not develop a cynical chip on his shoulder. Paul considered everything he went through (if you don’t know his life’s story of hard knocks, read 2 Corinthians 11) to be fleeting and relatively easy in comparison to the weighted and eternal glory that his Lord was preparing for him. Paul saw the temporary suffering of this life to be the necessary doorway that would lead him into everlasting bliss. Paul remembered how cruelly and unjustly Jesus Christ suffered on his behalf, and did not think it strange at all that if he were to reign with Christ, he would also have to suffer along with Him. Therefore, he would not fixate or stress over what seemed so close at hand. Instead, Paul “looked to”the unseen. He walked by faith not by sight.
Without any better perspective or view of the bigger picture, my coworker feels she’s justified in her belief that God’s best is very rare. She would probably say that it’s reserved for a hand full of super saints. However, this simply is not the case.
I did respond to her comment. I wrote: “I believe God's best is rare to all of us because our expectations of ‘good’ do not line up with how He defines good.” Would you pray along with me that she comes to know the God of all grace and comfort?