‘He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful; and a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment (Ecclesiastes 8:5).’
Our experiences are individual, and none of us have identical experiences. We may have similar experiences, but never the same. As a man, I’m glad I do not have to experience bearing and giving birth to a baby, but at the same time I’m sorry I shall never experience the joy that a woman may have after giving birth to her baby (John 16:21). As a married man I’ve had the joy of seeing our first child being born, but I’m glad I did not have to experience the pain my wife bravely endured during the delivery. The wonder of that experience of seeing our child for the first time and hearing her first cry as she entered the world, I shall never forget.
If we live long enough, like the writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes, we shall be able to look back and remember special moments of ‘weeping, laughing, mourning, dancing, embracing and loving (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8),’ etc.. All such moments are experiential and personal.
The Greatest Experience
The most profound and greatest experiential moment men and women may be privileged to have is when they are ‘born again of the Spirit of God (John 3:3-8)’. At that life-giving moment everything changes. Nothing is ever the same. The world that was is transformed into the new world of Jesus – the newly born Christian is transported to a new realm of life where the palpable love of God (Ephesians 2:4; 1 John 4:7, 9) throbs his heart. Lies, hatred, lust, and evil desires are no longer the way of life. These passions no longer have sway, and over time they are replaced with ‘Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22). Jesus becomes the believer’s way of life; for He is ‘the way the truth and the life (John 14:6).’
From the outset of that new relationship with the Son of God, all things become new. This experience is best described by Paul the Apostle in 2 Corinthians 5:17: ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.’ The stony heart (Ezekiel 11:19, 20) of death is done away with, and it is replaced with a new heart (36:26) of life and of love in the Spirit (Cf. Romans 8:2, 10). This remarkable, miraculous life continues through the transitional process of resurrection after death into the ultimate life everlasting. On receipt of this life the believer is given a new spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44). The transformation from the old to the new is then complete and the believer is clothed (Isaiah 61:10) and equipped for eternity.
Life as we know it is a continuum of experiences – one after another. In our relationships with people and our dealings with the physical world, our experiences are registered in the memory ‘box’ of our brain. We may recall them, or choose to forget them, or we may actually forget them! As they occur we may instinctively react to them or we may consider if there should be appropriate responses to them. The factor that governs our responses is the state of our heart. If our heart has been transformed by the love of Jesus, we will respond with His love (1 John 4:19). By His Spirit we have the power and the desire to do as He commands us:“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another (John 13:34).”’
There are times when we cannot understand why God puts us through certain experiences – particularly times of pain and of grief. We ask Him to sustain us, and we ask Him to help us overcome our burdens. We plead for Him to intervene and alleviate the pain of those who are suffering. Our prayer might be something like this, “Please God, in your mercy remove the pain my friend is having, and if it is Your will, please heal him, I pray. I ask this in Your Son’s name. Amen.”
As we pray such a prayer we may be reminded of the suffering of Jesus who pleaded with His Father to take away the cup of suffering He would experience at the cross. There in the garden of Gesthemane before His arrest, He was in such agony that his sweat was like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). He prayed, ‘“O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done (Matthew 26:42).”’
When we think of His suffering, and compare it to ours, ours is nothing. Miraculously by His suffering we are healed (1 Peter 2:24). Our bodies may not be healed, but our spirit is healed, and we are given life in Him (John 11:25). We have the hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2) – a life where there will be no memory of today’s experiences. We are assured that all our new experiences will be without pain, sorrow, or crying; ‘for the former things’ will ‘have passed away (Revelation 21:4).’