The discussion in Sunday Bible class went this way.
Parishioner: What do we make of all those evangelical denominations that claim you have to be happy to be a Christian?
Pastor: It’s a lot of Law.
Parishioner: It seems like a lot of work to pretend to be happy all the time.
Pastor: Yeah, I don’t like people who feign happiness just because it makes them look more pious. That’s just not Lutheran.
Me: But what about the flip side? If you were to track with Facebook, you’d think it’s hip and relevant to be down in the dumps and generally grumpy.
Pastor: This is why I hate Facebook.
I’ve noticed a few posts going around Facebook today about how difficult certain vocations are and how tough life feel sometimes. And it’s true. In this broken world, we are no strangers to suffering.
But we also don’t wallow in it. To quote one LCMS pastor: “Do not think that you are better than others, that you work harder, are busier, or are smarter. And do not think that your life has been more difficult, that you have suffered more. The difference between you and the drug dealer, or between you and Mother Teresa is the difference between two pieces of straw in a pile the size of a house. It is not great enough to be measured, statistically it is non-existent. Get over it. Get over yourself. Repent.”
And then, before you get indignant and yell at me, also know this:
“[Your suffering] is not meritorious, but it comes from Fatherly care. Your Father knows what is best. He chastises you and He intervenes in your life for your good, often in ways that conflict with what you think you want. That often means sorrow and pain. Who can know the mind of God? His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. He sends you crosses for your good, to purify you, to keep you from things that would hurt you, to teach you to live by faith and to pray, and He also sends them for the good of your neighbors. We would not choose these things for ourselves. We rightly pray for relief. But we are only children. We do not know what is best. These crosses do not merit God’s love, but come from God’s love and from our love. Because we love God, who has loved and forgiven us, we submit to His will and wait for the time when all things will be revealed. Sometimes relief does not come until we are transferred through death and into life.”
Be grumpy some days. But also rejoice. Drink milk out of the carton. Read a bit of poetry. Kiss your spouse on the forehead, and turn on some country music. Two-step across the kitchen, and sleep with the window open. Through Baptism, Christ saved you from hell. Everything else pales in comparison.