We are the lab rats. You know the cruel little experiment where if a rat fails to behave a specific way, say pushing a blue button instead of a red one he gets his food, but he gets shocked as well? He keeps choosing option B over A, why? “Why won’t he conform?” “We will give you everything you desire if you just behave as we wish,” says the diabolical scientist that lives in his mother’s garage. We are those rats. To the world we are fools, we refuse their offers and are shocked, but if they had but tasted Jesus they would know our behavior the most logical of actions. Our risk glorifies the Bread of Life, He is worth it.
I’m afraid of reading Hebrews 11:23-40 lightly, the same way that Philippians 4:13 is glibly quoted with no concern for the context. Consider two scenarios:
Christian # 1 He lives in the States. He has a great job and makes a sizeable income. He attends church regularly and tithes. He has never really suffered. He has accomplished much. He is easily deemed “successful” by all his friends. They talk about how he is so blessed. Is he? He is materialistic and consumed with his image. Always the best – the best clothes, the best car, the best TV. He isn’t super extravagant, nor living above his means; he is just wanting to invest in good quality he will tell you – you know, being a good steward and all. And yes, of course, he gives all the glory to God!
Christian # 2 Lives in a hostile Muslim country. He is despised, hated, persecuted. He has reaped hardly any fruit. He barely exists day to day. It is a task just to buy or find food. Even though he receives funds from oversees they don’t always make it to him. And having cash is no guarantee that it will be accepted. He has little in this world. Ultimately his wife and child are taken. Is he cursed?
Who is victorious? Consider their purposes. If the ultimate goal is to glorify God as the supreme glory and joy of the universe, who is successful? Who has treasured Christ above all things and who has “treasured” Christ as a means to things. As Lewis said, He will not be used as a road. Certainly Jesus is the road, the only road, but where is He taking us? Not to rusty things, but to a glorious Father. He is both the means and the end. Who has glorified Him as such?
Suffering does not equal defeat. Often, very often it is the means to victory.
Make like a lab rat, it’s the logical thing to do. There is risk, the electricity is real, but the Bread of Life is all satisfying.