“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.”
~Matthew 16:25, NIV
One of the complexities of life is that we are here as created beings, not creators. When life deals us blow after blow, it can seem like the universe is against us. For those of Judeo-Christian background, pain, loss, and suffering can be even harder to reconcile with our belief in a good and loving God. We hesitate to blame God for our trials, and yet if our faith is to rest secure, we must find some explanation for the problem of suffering in light of who He says He is.
I hadn’t expected to find an answer to these difficult questions this chilly New England morning as I sipped my steaming tea. But God heard my unspoken thoughts and gave me a glimpse of life from His perspective. It began when I heard the sounds of scratching outside my dining room window.
I knew immediately who was making those sounds. I own a small flock of chickens, and I had forgotten to close the gate over their caged run the night before. Since sunrise, they had been tearing up our gardens and relishing their unaccustomed freedom.
Never mind that I provided them daily with a warm, solid coop, plenty of food, and room to roam safely in their caged area. They seized this opportunity to be completely free; like us, it is just in their nature to do so.
The problem was that I was home alone, and catching one flying creature is difficult, let alone five of them!
I knew that in order to catch them, I had no other option but to restrict their freedom by blocking off a narrow path and then driving them into it. I could then use my own strength to corner them, lifting them gently back into their cage. If it caused them minor discomfort, so be it. The danger of leaving them exposed to hawks and predators was far greater than any pain they would experience resisting me!
I was able to catch all of them, but not in the same way. The first two members of my flock submitted, as hens to a rooster. They allowed me to gently pick them up, cradle them in my arms, and return them to their place of safety.
The next two ran away briefly, but I drove them into a “dead end” I created with leftover pieces of wood. Picking the birds up, however, proved to be a challenge. Neither of the chickens was interested in being subdued, and their struggles to escape me resulted in greater pain (and a considerable loss of feathers) for them. They dove into the wired wall of the cage, impaling their heads, and squawking noisily as I tugged at their feet and wings to get a grip on them. It did not have to be so. It was not my desire to harm them, but to protect them! Had they not resisted so defiantly, I would have been able to be gentle. Their own rebellion caused their pain.
THE LONE RANGER
I turned my attention now to the last chicken. She was hell-bent on maintaining her freedom, and smart enough (after what she’d just witnessed) to run the opposite direction from where I hoped to corner her. Master of her own fate, she headed for the hills (or at least, the edges of our property)! No human would dominate her!
Because I love her and wanted her safe with the rest of my flock, I chased her until other natural boundaries surrounded her; her “freedom ride” would not last long. I drove her towards the wall of another chicken run, and there I stooped to pick her up.
Everything in this chicken resisted me. Flapping her wings violently and screaming as if dying, she fought me beak and claw. Chaos! I was stronger, and won in the end, but even after my clear victory she fought, wildly forcing her feathered head through the cage, throwing her bird-body at the cage door, and making no small ruckus, as if to let all the neighbors know that I was as good as a murderer!
All her defiance earned her a day in isolation, separated from the rest of the flock. Her pain was unnecessary; it was her own stubbornness and lack of understanding that disrupted her life. If she knew the greater good to which I sought to conform her – protection from her enemies and a safe place to reproduce and fulfill her hen “calling,” she would more easily trust me. If she had the sense to remember how daily, I fed her, watered her, and laid soft bedding in her coop for her own health and comfort, she would not resist me. Her desire to go her own way blinded her to my goodness. Believing in herself as mistress of her own fate, instead of accepting her place in the order of creation, resulted in her pain.
I still love her, and will (after leaving her for a day to teach her a lesson!) still treat her as well as all the other chickens in my flock. But I wish, for her sake, that she were more compliant, since it would mean less of a loss to her of the blessings I would provide.
THE HEART OF GOD
My morning chasing chickens taught me this: for created beings (whether chickens or humans), there is an order to life which, when followed, brings blessing. The heart of God can be trusted, just as my heart towards my chickens is for good, not evil. But we must yield to His ways or suffer the consequences.
God’s wish not to harm us or cause us discomfort is superseded only by His love for us, which will of necessity protect us from far greater pain than any He could inflict in our defense. He sees the dangers; we do not.
When life seems unfair, perhaps it is wise for us to consider if, perhaps, we have escaped the boundaries of God’s will for us somehow. By choosing to trust in His love and goodness toward us, we can submit rather than struggle, and minimize the pain and discomfort of transitions as He moves us to a better place, safe from danger we cannot see.
Faith requires trust; faith IS trust. The character of our Creator is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He loves us, He cares for us, He searches for us when we are lost, yet He hopes – for our benefit – that we will yield to Him, respecting Him as Creator and knowing that we are His beloved creatures. We must lose what we think is our life in order to gain true happiness. And then, miraculously, we will find the wonderful life He intended for us to live.
Submitted by: Deborah Perkins
Deborah Perkins is a seasoned prophetic writer, speaker, and Christian leader with more than 30 years of ministry experience across denominations. At God's request in 2013, she founded His Inscriptions, an online ministry devoted to helping people worldwide build life-giving communication with God. Through her website, inspired teaching and a weekly blog, Deborah offers discipleship to those who want to grow their relationship with God. Deborah is also fond of her hubby, 3 sons, and dark chocolate - in that order! You can order her newest Bible Study, How to Inherit Your Spiritual Promises, on Amazon.