What is the difference between “money lost” and “tuition paid”?
I am not sure where I first heard this analogy, but it is not original to me. It contrasts money that is flushed down the drain, and a payment that is made to learn something new. In my life, I have paid tuition at the University of Oklahoma for my undergrad, and at Dallas Theological Seminary for both my Masters and Doctoral degrees. In total, tens of thousands of dollars were invested in tuition at these institutions … but that money was not “lost.” My experiences both places helped grow me more into the person I am today.
So to summarize, when we “pay tuition” we may lose money, but we gain an education/“preparation for future impact” in return.
The point of the comparison, though, is not simply to reflect on formalized education. The point of the comparison is that in life, we often learn a lot through painful experiences. Painful and costly experiences can actually prepare us for something more.
While I don’t remember where I first heard the “tuition vs. loss” analogy, I DO remember where I learned that “experience prepares us for service.” I learned that from 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. In these verses, the Apostle Paul writes to his friends at the church in Corinth and instructs them that when we go through difficult circumstances … when we suffer … when we experience “loss” … the God of ALL COMFORT comes to us and comforts us. Not only does He comfort us, but He has designed His comfort to be portable – that we might share it with others going through similar circumstances.
The suffering we go through is not loss, but tuition. The comfort we receive is not intended to be only for us, but to flow through us into the lives of others.
God is not a God who is distant and uncaring. He is the Father of all comfort and mercy, and He comes near to the brokenhearted and the hurting. He did so in the time of the Bible, and He will do so today.
This Sunday at Wildwood, we will begin a year long study of the book of 2 Corinthians. This study will help us understand the Mission we are on … and who is in Control of that mission. From January 8-22, we will kick off this study looking at “Mission: Prep,” how God prepares us for the Mission He wants to work through us in the world. This preparation involves a calibration of our motivations and attitudes, a willingness to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt us, and (in this week’s message) how God prepares us to comfort others through the comfort He gives to us in the midst of our troubles. We will be in part 1 this week looking at 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. Hope to see you there in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service … and bring friends!