Ahhh, to be "chosen"!
What an awe-inspiring concept. To be special, set apart. Our adopted daughter Niki knows something of what it means to be chosen. Adrift in an orphanage, rejected by the only home she ever knew, she had her basic needs met -- food and shelter. But she had no one to call her own.
Through adoption she discovered the concept of being chosen. SHE was the ONE! SHE now had a family who loved her! SHE had been chosen. But being chosen does not come without costs.
Consider what being "chosen" meant in Bible times:
Abraham was chosen. He had to leave his homeland and everything he knew to travel to -- only God knew where! Along this pilgrimmage he had to deal with a barren wife and no hope of offspring -- except for God's promise. Then when the promise was finally fulfilled, God asked him to sacrifice his son!
Moses was chosen. Set adrift in a basket as a baby, raised by strangers, he committed murder. He fled to the desert for many years, returned to face Pharoah and witness the plagues, and then after the parting of the Red Sea, he had to deal with a bunch of complainers in the wilderness until he died.
David was chosen. And he had spend a good portion of us life fleeing the king's wrath. When he finally became king, his son, Amnon, raped his daughter,Tamar. Later his other son Absalom killed Amnon, bringing the concept dysfunctional families to a new height.
Mary was chosen of God. Pregnant before marriage, she gave birth in a stable with only her husband to help. Then she had to flee to Egypt and live like a refugee until they could return to Israel, where she would raise that child only to watch him be tortured and murdered publicly.
Paul was chosen of God. And he suffered countless beatings, stoning, and tradition suggests he was ultimately beheaded.
The list could go on and on. Chosen of God most often means Chosen to Suffer in this life. It just doesn't seem fair, does it?
Niki too feels the sting of the "chosen" when all the kids at our village ministry "Kids Klub" are allowed to act like monsters, being rude and disrespectful with no consequences, and if she even uses a tone of attitude serious punishment awaits!
She senses it too when all the other kids are free to goof around and play and she comes home to study under the malevolent dictatorship of her mother.
It's not fair, she must often think. But she was chosen.
Like Niki, we often do not understand the circumstances we must walk through in this life. Indeed, being "chosen" doesn't seem to be all it's cracked up to be. But we cannot see this world as it truly is. We can only "see through a glass darkly." (As 1 Cor. 13:12)
Has God chosen you? It's no reason to be smug or self-righteous. Being chosen is no panacea. It's hard and it hurts -- so much it may make us wonder if we really wanted to be chosen in the first place.
But perhaps here is where we misunderstand most. CS Lewis summed it up nicely in The Great Divorce:
“‘That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say ‘Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences’: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say ‘We have never lived anywhere except Heaven,’ and the Lost, ‘We were always in Hell.’ And both will speak truly.’
Can we catch a glimps of heaven in the trials we face today? Can we hold the title of "chosen" in humble surrender so that He who makes all things new may use even this present suffering to work heaven in our lives?
We are chosen.