Micah Fries posted a hilarious picture on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. It was a picture of a patch of grass with a light dusting of snow on it. I joked with him that they probably cancelled school because of that blizzard. Micah surprised me by responding that, in fact, Nashville schools had been closed.
We are currently bracing for a major blizzard (though most recent projections are that the snow has gone south and is nailing Kansas City instead of us – sorry, Scott Gordon!). But, if we get the 8 to 12 inches of snow originally projected, life will slow down in Sioux City for a few hours. Some ball games will get cancelled. We might even have a late start to school in the morning. Some of the rural schools around here are dismissing early. But life will go on.
Why is it that a large snow in Sioux City causes less disruption than a dusting of snow in Nashville? Are we just hardier people than those Nashville wimps? The answer is simple.
We expect snow in Sioux City. Our city has a fleet of snow plows, salt and sand warehouses, dump trucks and other items to make our roads safe. We expect snow so we prepare for it. Many of our power and communications lines are buried in the ground so that they are not affected as much by the weather.
And, having lived in Iowa for 22 years, I know how to drive in snow. I love it as a matter of fact. It becomes kind of an instinct. Steer into the slide. Slow down a little. And, of course, I have a Durango I can kick into 4WD (even 4WD low) if I need to. I only do that in extremity, because it takes the fun out of it!
But, we expect snow, so we prepare for it. It is part of life in the north.
But, in Southern climates, a heavy snow is a surprise, a deviation from the norm. Southern cities do not invest millions of dollars into snow plows and warehouses to hold salt and sand because they do not expect to have to use them. So, when snow comes, it disrupts life.
Again, my point is not that we in the north are hardier or better or stronger. It is just that we expect snow, so we prepare for it.
American Christians today have often been trained not to expect suffering and pain in life. Even those of us who reject the false teachings of the health and wealth cult often evidence a subtle belief that if we serve God properly, all will go well.
When suffering comes, when a loved one dies, when our business goes under, when opposition comes – we are shocked, surprised, saddened. God let me down. Where are you God? This isn’t supposed to happen to me. Our expectations of a life of ease, comfort and contentment, guaranteed by our service to God, have been shattered!
In the days of the early church, no such expectations existed. These people knew that suffering with Christ was a normal, natural part of their life. Their perfect savior had suffered at the hands of evil men and empty religion. They were beaten, imprisoned and martyred for their faith. Suffering for Christ was just a part of their lives.
American Christianity is soft and our expectations of suffering are low. So, when it comes it seems like snow in Tuscaloosa – an unnatural imposition on life. But “all who live godly in Christ will suffer persecution.” “It has been granted to us on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his name.” “If they hated me, they will hate you.”
We need to recalibrate our expectations according to biblical standards.