Virtually every time you turn on the T.V. you see a drug commercial. Whether it be Abilify, Humira, Xeljanz, Eliquis, etc., the drug companies are saturating the television advertising market. One thing I’m sure you’ve noticed about these ads, besides the fact that they are pretty cheesy, is that the narrator always rapidly runs through a list of side effects. May cause weight gain, blurry vision, nausea, vomiting, change in appetite, drowsiness, anxiety, sleep problems. Tell your doctor right away if you experience: fainting, mood changes, trouble swallowing, seizures, signs of infection, trouble controlling certain urges, interrupted breathing during sleep, suicidal thoughts. This medication may rarely cause a condition known as tardive dyskinesia. In some cases, this condition may be permanent. Tell your doctor right away if you develop uncontrolled movements, especially of the face, mouth, tongue, arms, or legs. And I really like when they include in the list of side effects the phrase, “Up to and including death.” Suddenly, whatever malady you were dealing with seems so much milder. Maybe that’s the idea. The side effects take your mind off whatever it was you took the medicine for in the first place.

Life should come with a list of side effects. Every child who comes into this world should have a list attached to them that includes things like:

  • Illness
  • Betrayal
  • Brokenness
  • Heartache
  • Sorrow
  • Disappointment
  • Emotional Pain
  • Injury
  • Loss
  • And, death

A baby comes into this world with so much excitement and so much fanfare, but as he or she grows and matures there are side effects to living that they must inevitably face. Some of these can be rather mild. Some can be devastating. Life can be beautiful. It can be full of pleasant surprises and unexpected joy. Life is a journey filled with moments that take your breath away. There’s the giddiness and fulfillment of true love. There’s the overwhelming sense of satisfaction that comes from getting a degree or getting a promotion or getting a raise. There’s the unparalleled excitement that comes from hearing the words, “I’m pregnant!” There’s the little things, like crisp mountain air, ocean waves beating against a white sand beach, and majestic west Texas sunsets. It may be a wonderful life, but we cannot avoid the fact that there are side effects.

The Bible comes with a list of side effects. Notice what Paul writes in Romans 8.

18 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. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.  body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it (Rom. 8:18-25).

Paul acknowledges that life comes with side effects, but he also acknowledges that there is a bigger picture. In the midst of personal suffering, Paul was able to discern that all of it was temporary and all of it had a purpose. This world is wasting away, but it’s giving birth to something new and improved; something far better. We groan, but in our groaning we hope and we wait. In the meantime, we persevere; knowing that the side effects will one day subside and we will be made well for all eternity.

It was also Paul who wrote these words:

17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:17 & 18).

I don’t think the Holy Spirit is trying to minimize suffering. However, when compared to the bigger picture of eternity, your suffering is momentary and light. So what seems unbearable is actually minuscule when viewed in light of heaven. That doesn’t mean that you are wrong for shedding tears. You’re not wrong for breaking down. You’re not wrong for having days where you feel like you can’t go on. There are times when it seems that the pain and the heartache is winning. It’s like the little boy who had fallen down a flight of stairs when he was only a year old. The fall had shattered his back. He had been in and out of hospitals his whole life and, yet, he felt that God was fair. Someone once asked him, “How old are you?” The boy said, “Seventeen.” The man then asked, “And how many years have you spent in hospitals?” The boy replied, “Thirteen total.” The man said, “And you think that’s fair?” And the boy said, “Well, God has all eternity to make it up to me.” And He will. God promises a future where there is no more pain, no more heartache, no more tears. A future glory that includes you and Him with no possibility of suffering.

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