“If you don’t say thee, thou, or thine, God might not know that you’re talking to Him.”
At least that’s what my Gammy thought. In her world, it was the King James or nothing, and every Bible verse she made us memorize (that’s all she ever wanted from her grandkids for Christmas) was chock full of the good stuff:
I in them and thou in me…that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, even as thou hast loved me.
(I might not have known what John 17:23 meant but boy, could I quote it.)
Me, I’m an NIV gal. I got my first copy of a New International Version Bible back in the late ’70s and never looked back. Call me Gammy 2.0; I like what I like.
Which is not to say that I don’t appreciate a walk on the wild side, every now and again. Like, this past summer when we were in a remote part of Canada and I was starting to think of potato chips as vegetables because it had been awhile since I’d seen anything green, I was super grateful for how the English Standard Version renders Nehemiah 8:10:
“Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Talk about a user-friendly Bible command. (Can I get a side of Rosé with those chips? Thank you very much, ESV.)
This week I found myself grateful again, this time for The Message translation. I have a Bible that puts my old faithful NIV on one side of the page and The Message on the other…
…because sometimes words can be confusing, and it helps to look at things from a different perspective. Especially if the thing you are looking at involves suffering.
Which (as you know, if you’ve been around this blog for awhile) tends to be a tricky topic for me. I know God always uses hard things for good, but I struggle to embrace the place of disappointment and pain in my life. Or in the lives of the people I love.
And honestly? In the case of 1 Peter 4:1-2, my beloved NIV didn’t help all that much:
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
Those words were familiar, but they didn’t really add up. I didn’t think that I would ever be “done with sin,” and I hated the idea that I might be doomed to live my life in the pursuit of “evil human desires.” How was it, exactly, that suffering might help?
I stole a glance at The Message:
Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.
Ahhh. THAT made so much more sense.
Jesus suffered more than I ever have. (I get that.)
And I should learn to think like he did. (I agree.)
And suffering can help wean me from the habit of expecting to get my own way.
Now there’s a provocative thought. I actually DO expect to get my own way–or at least I THINK that I should. I mean, I am pretty sure that most of my ideas have some merit, and that God should at least give them a try. And when he doesn’t–like, when things don’t turn out at all like I think that they should–I can start to get a bit grumpy.
You might even say tyrannized.
(Can anybody relate?)
The idea that I could get out from under my wants, and run after the good things God has, is mighty appealing. And when I consider the example of Christ and the whole “not my will, but thine” thing (which, you have to admit, comes off pretty strong in the old KJV), everything sort of falls into place. If suffering is what opens the door to surrender–to realizing, once and for all, that God’s way is a zillion times better–well then, bring it on.
(Well, maybe not “Bring it on.” Maybe more like, “Help me please.” But you get the idea.)
And in the meantime…
Let’s eat some fat and raise a glass to the English Standard Version, and to all of the whip-smart Bible translators out there. Thank you for doing all the hard work so that the rest of us can just kick back, eat some chips, and read.
Help us learn to think more like Jesus. And when we come up against suffering–when things don’t go “our way”–equip us to let go, like Jesus did, and embrace your will for our lives. Free us from the tyranny of living for what we want. (1 Peter 4:1-2, MSG)
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