When Life Throws You a Curveball
Life this side of the resurrection can be extremely difficult. As Christians we can expect three of our greatest enemies to constantly attack us: our Old Adam, the world, and the devil.
Martin Luther puts it in the following way,
“”If we would be Christians, therefore, we must surely expect and count on having the devil with all his angels and the world as our enemies [Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9]. They will bring every possible misfortune and grief upon us. For where God’s Word is preached, accepted, or believed and produces fruit, there the holy cross cannot be missing [Acts 14:22]. And let no one think that he shall have peace [Matthew 10:34]. He must risk whatever he has upon earth—possessions, honor, house and estate, wife and children, body and life. Now, this hurts our flesh and the old Adam [Ephesians 4:22]. The test is to be steadfast and to suffer with patience [James 5:7-8] in whatever way we are assaulted, and to let go whatever is taken from us [1 Peter 2:20-21]” (Large Catechism III, 65).
Luther was simply repeating what our Lord has told us, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Luther writes that the “…test is to be steadfast and to suffer with patience in whatever way we are assaulted, and to let go whatever is taken from us.” He is right in saying “this hurts our flesh and the old Adam.” There is a colloquialism popularized by a TV commercial for an insurance company that goes something like this, “Sometimes life throws you a curveball.” Indeed it does, and as Christians “we must surely expect and count on” these curveballs being thrown at us.
Now if this whole affair of Christian suffering ended like some terrible Shakespearian tragedy, we might wonder what there is to rejoice about in being a Christian. If all we have to look forward to is suffering, then what’s the point? Thankfully, Jesus tells us to “take heart,” since He has overcome the world. What an amazing promise! He has overcome the world. There is nothing in there about what you, or I, have done to overcome. Jesus has overcome. His is the victory, because He took up His cross and allowed His enemies to nail Him to it so that He could lay down His life for the sins of the entire human race. He then took up His life and rose from the dead for our justification. Christ is thereby the victor over sin and death. We are freely given His victory in His Word, Holy Baptism, and His Supper. We have hope given to us by Christ’s promise of our own bodily resurrection from the dead. The Apostle Paul writes,
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:8-11; 17-21).
In this life we will have curve balls thrown at us, but take heart; Christ Jesus has overcome the world, death, sin, and the devil. We are baptized children of God, and having had the old Adam drowned in our baptisms we know that we will join Him in our bodily resurrection to spend eternity with Him.
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