One of the hard truths of life is that bad things happen. And many times, it’s another human being who caused that bad thing to happen. Often, we are hurt by it, or someone we know and love is affected by it. Frequently, we see people making such poor decisions that we think they deserve what they are getting. Or that person who hurt us, well, we just can’t wait to see them get what they deserve…or what we think they deserve. We may even secretly hope that we are around to see them get what’s coming to them!
This notion of “you get what you deserve” is so tantalizing because the pain of the offense is so deep that we want the offender to suffer just as we have or someone else has. And it’d be really great if God just went along with what we wanted and ensure that person will know just how bad they hurt us, and will live through it themselves…”that’ll teach ‘em!”
There are times that life just seems to give us way more than we can handle, and we feel like, if one more bad thing happens, we are just going to fall apart. I know I’m not alone in having those moments when I just wrap my arms around myself, crying so hard I can barely breathe, in so much pain and agony with life situations I can’t stand it anymore. And I’ve tried to believe that God would never give me more than I could handle. But time and time again, life proves too much for me.
When we see people going through tough times, or when we are in the midst of them ourselves, we like to have something to say. Often we don’t know what to say, so we toss around platitudes like “Everything happens for a reason.” It gives us a bit of comfort, some sense of control, or an illusion of understanding. Experience tells us that it has to be true, and of course it’s biblical...at least we think it is.
But it’s not! This bit of earthly wisdom is not only unbiblical, but also leads to a misunderstanding of who God really is. What we’re saying is that God causes everything that happens to happen for a reason.
We’ve reached the end of our first series in our Year of Discipleship. We’ve looked at four foundational concepts necessary for all disciples to understand: Grace, Commitment, Humility, and now, Piety. And it was very fitting that Piety would be our last topic in this series, because it actually serves as the culmination of the other topics.
The dictionary defines piety as a quality of being religious or reverent. And we are pious when we exhibit holiness and strive to be Christ-like. Basically speaking, piety is living out what you believe. It’s the culmination of God’s work of grace, and your commitment to Him, and it’s your humility in action! Piety is about making your faith real and evident in your life and through all your actions.
Cori Cypret is the pastor of The United Methodist Church of Coopersville.