One of the things we have done with the kids over the years is read through the Chronicles of Narnia. Recently, we finished a section of the book that has one of my favorite quote in the series... well of most any literature outside of the Bible really.
When the young children are meeting with the Beaver family and hearing about Aslan for the first time, they're concerned to find out he is a lion. To which, they ask: "Is he safe?"
Mr. Beaver replies, "Safe? ... Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
He isn't safe, but He is good.
If you know the book series, you know C.S. Lewis created Aslan as a representation of Jesus, our King. While no representation in literature outside of the Bible can perfectly represent our King, I am fond of this quote for its faithfulness to Scripture. While we live in a condition in many churches and pulpits that would want to represent Jesus as a safe, mild mannered and morally ambiguous King, C.S. Lewis does not.
Much like the children in the story, we can be tempted to want a safe King... one that is more pliable and docile... i.e. if we're honest, more amenable to our will. But, who really wants that? Of what lasting value are our natural ambitions? If we live any time on this earth, we are quick to learn the emptiness of them. We quickly find them, even when attained, leaving us more hungry than before.
However, if we are faithful to see the Jesus of the Bible, we won't see Him as safe and compliant to man's will. We will find someone unyielding in His mission. We find a King Who commands us to serve Him in that mission, and He isn't afraid to demand things of us that are... unsafe. E.g. Hebrews 11.
But He's good. Jesus is a King that can be faithfully followed into danger because not only is He King, He is good, holy and zealous for what is right. And... He knows it is best for us to serve Him in His kingdom for those same purposes. And... since we're in hostile territory, when He saves us, He knows it is best for us to serve Him in danger and even know pain. And... like a hurricane with an inflexible tree, He uses those things to "dig us away from earthly comforts to loosen our hearts from the earth." (T. Watson)
If my heart is in tune with Scripture, I must admit I desire a King more interested in an eternal, holy purpose... one that is greater than my comforts. He is not safe ... He is just committed to something greater than me. And, I praise Him for it.
If we suffer, we must remember there is much meaning in it. Do we really want our hearts rooted here? Then let us praise Him for the hurricane that rips our stubborn roots from their comforts. What meaningless lives we would live if we lived as those who don't know the blessedness of eternity in their hearts. We are living sacrifices. And, while our King offers us many comforts of His own, they aren't rooted here. We can only taste them in a limited fashion as they should bend our hearts for eternity as our dis-comforts should bend our hearts to the same.
I encourage you to see Jesus as a King with greater purposes than us. We are a piece of His plan, but we aren't the end of His plan.
I'll close with a couple good quotes from the Valley of Vision:
Help me to see how good thy will is in all,
and even when it crosses mine
teach me to be pleased with it.
If it be consistent with thy eternal counsels,
the purpose of thy grace,
and the great ends of thy glory,
then bestow on me the blessings of thy comforts;
If not, let me resign myself to thy wiser determinations.