I’m a survivor. I’m a cancer survivor, four and a half years and counting. I’m also a divorce survivor, not counting, but it was a long time ago. I’ve had a variety of jobs, some at which I was successful, some at which I failed, and some that more or less failed me. Looking back on my life, you could say I’m a stupidity survivor. Although I have made some good choices and I have made some really dumb/bad ones, too. There have been bad experiences I inflicted on myself, and some that were inflicted on me by others. And I’ve done some things right, and at times have been helped or blessed by others, sometimes totally unexpected and often undeserved. I have had my share of heartaches and tears.
Listen deeper to what Paul said, “…count all things lost for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” If you are looking at what you lost, mourning it and grieving over it, you are still valuing it. It is part of the “all things” in your life. Count that loss itself, the very experience of it, as loss, for the surpassing value of knowing Christ. Let your experiences, good or bad, gain or loss, all result in your receiving the greater benefit of knowing Him.
No, I’m not saying ignore or even stifle your emotions. I am not saying it is wrong or a sin to grieve over a loss. You will. You are human. You were created with emotions. God is not surprised or offended by your grief. He made you that way. Grieve over a lost loved one. Hurt when a business you invest your heart in fails. Be sad when a child rebels and makes wrong and hurtful choices. Feel your hurt.
At some point, let your hurt cause you to let go a little bit more of the temporary, transitory, tactile, time-bound things that make up this earthly existence. Cling to Him. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
ALL things in life – good or bad – anything that we just keep holding onto that interferes with our holding onto Him – we need to learn to let go. If we will learn to count both our gains and our losses to be loss for the surpassing value of knowing Him, nothing the enemy throws at us can have a lasting effect on us.
Hebrews 2:14 says that Jesus’ death on the cross rendered the devil “powerless.” That means literally “of no effect.” Of no effect is working all day on a task and accomplishing nothing. It would be like running your lawn mower over your yard, motor running, blade spinning, but not cutting any grass. More familiar to most of us, it is like working for a couple of hours, entering something on your computer and closing the program without ever saving your work. You did the work, but there were no results – effort without effect.
People make fun of Christians because they believe in God and say he heals. They ask, if He heals the sick, how come He never grows new arms or legs on an amputee. Now that would be a miracle! Well, in the first place, they would not believe if God brought someone back from the dead to tell them about Him, and He knows it. In the second place, and more pertinent to this blog post – it really isn’t about sick or amputee and healing or not. What it is about is Satan’s purpose is to interfere with man’s relationship with God – with your relationship with God. He does not cause sickness, broken relationships, wars, tsunamis, amputations, or anything else just for the sake of inflicting pain and suffering. It is to keep our attention firmly fixed on things we experience with the five sense. It is to make us look at temporal, earthly things, and keep our eyes off the eternal.
When our focus is on knowing Christ Jesus, and we count all things as loss anyway, even the things the enemy throws at us will result in our knowing Christ. It is the opposite of what he is trying to accomplish. Satan is made of no effect. The results he was seeking to accomplish never happen.
This is the crucified life in practical application. This is being crucified with Christ. Over time, I will share more on this – some insights that work together to help make this easier to accept and, as a result, at least a little easier to do. It really is easier said than done. A lot of this at this stage is foundational. Knowing Him definitely is a foundational principle for Christian living. It should be our top priority, and nothing else is of greater value.
The amazingly wonderful thing is: God is willing to be known by us. He “is.” He exists. And, He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.