As Catie descended into her final days, I tried harder than ever to be good. My worthiness was a bargaining chip, and God would not forsake the righteous! After she died, the root sin of anger blossomed into numerous fruit sins. One of those was gluttony. It was easier to eat a bag of Oreos® than deal with my anger and frustration.
Job experienced astounding loss and excruciating pain; his family, his fortune, and his health were stripped away. His friends provided a mixed bag of advice – some very helpful, some not so much! But one nugget of wisdom and warning echoes even today: “Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction.” (Job 36:21)
We just want the pain to go away, and that makes us susceptible to destructive choices that we hope will relieve the pain. Descending into the dark worlds of gambling, drugs, pornography, alcohol, or affairs is a dead-end trap. But more acceptable yet similarly destructive patterns of evil may disguise equally tragic ends. Workaholism, chaotic spending, overeating, protracted exercise, on and on. Overindulging in any other good thing is a way of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction.
No one prefers affliction. But sometimes we must face our pain head on, tossing aside those distractions that would momentarily deaden the pain but multiply its downstream devastation.
On the cross, in His moment of greatest physical and spiritual pain, gracious bystanders offered Jesus a drink – sour-wine vinegar. Jesus refused (Matthew 27:34). Was He ungrateful, picky, disoriented? The sour-wine vinegar would have deadened the pain and provided some relief. Apparently, that was not what Jesus needed to quench His thirst. The wine was a poor substitute for the physical and spiritual refreshment He desperately craved.
In our moments of deep pain, our parched souls frantically desire refreshment. We become susceptible to temptations that offer us short-term relief and long-term pain. Those seemingly simple solutions complicate our lives. Stumbling toward a mirage of safety places us in greater danger.
When our parched souls need water, we tend to accept the sour-wine vinegar the world offers! The toxic opiates that call our name will only plunge us into deeper despair and greater thirst!
John records, “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.’” (John 7:37)
Power, sex, money, drugs, or Oreos® cannot satisfy for long; the thirst will always return.
Jesus also said, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
Don’t accept the world’s substitutes. Only Jesus provides the water of life.
Refueling in Flight Ministries, Inc