The Princess Bride is one of the greatest movies ever made. Seriously.
In the movie, at one point, the Dread Pirate Roberts say, “Life is pain, Highness, and anyone who says differently is selling something.”
Wow. Talk about cynical, and fatalistic - and totally true.
As Christians, I think we might be tempted to look at that statement – life is pain – and dismiss it as the angry ranting of a hopeless man. Except, it turns out, Jesus seems to agree.
In John 16:33, Jesus says something incredibly shocking, something that turns “religion” upside down:
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In other words, Jesus is saying that your life – and mine – is going to involve pain, difficulty, and hardship. But that there is a greater reality than that. That our pain is not the last word in our lives.
If you look at the self-help section at your bookstore, or the religion section, what you almost always find is the claim: “do these things, and your life will be easy.“ They are, in a literal sense, selling something.
Sometimes, you find a more honest claim…”Do these things, and the pain won’t be able to get to you anymore.” It’s more realistic, but they’re still selling something, it just happens to be numbness.
But Jesus makes this audacious claim that pain will be a part of our lives, and we don’t have to hide from it, try to bribe it, or numb ourselves against it. That he is bigger than the pain.
In Romans 8:18, the Apostle Paul says that God wants to make a bet with you:
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Paul is saying, when you see what God makes out of your life – the painful parts included – you’ll never regret the difficulties. You’ll know that it was worth it.
That’s an amazing boast. It seems cavalier, arrogant, even foolish. But Paul knew what he was talking about. He suffered in ways most of us never will, and he knew his bet was solid. He had seen God be bigger than the pain.
God wants to show you that in your own life. That you don’t have to hide from difficulty, run away from it, or numb yourself. If you’ll hold his hand in the midst of the hard times, and keep on walking, he’ll lead you to a place so beautiful that the pain will be ashamed of itself for ever trying to have kept you down. You will see, with your own eyes, that though you had trouble, Jesus was always bigger.