I have never liked when people said they “came to Jesus” and life got perfect. That they don’t have any struggles, all the worries and cares that they were holding onto are gone, and everything is just wonderful. I don’t like it because it just doesn’t work that way and it’s not even Biblical.
A person may have a honeymoon period when they surrender their life to Christ because there are cool things that will happen. There is a release of the pressures of trying to get through life on your own. Freedom from the guilt and shame associated with our lives before Christ that comes with being forgiven and accepted by God is a beautiful feeling. Grace truly is amazing!
There are some things to be aware of that also come from being a Christ follower. We may lose friends that don’t share our beliefs. Some people will even ridicule us for our beliefs, some mercilessly. I myself have been told that I am stupid, close minded, crazy and much worse because of my beliefs.
I haven’t been physically healed from my mental illnesses. I have multiple physical challenges that will most likely be a part of the rest of my existence on this earth. I have watched people I love suffer with no way of relieving that suffering. I have still lost family and friends to death. I have seen my finances crumble. I have been stabbed in the back by people I thought I could trust. The list goes on.
You may be thinking right now that this is the worst commercial for being a Christian you have ever read. And if I stopped typing right now you would be correct. It would be. But I’m not going to stop typing, because there’s more.
Here is the good news… Jesus says in John 16:33 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” This is one of the many promises found in the Bible.
We WILL have tribulation, not MAY have, WILL have. Bad things are going to happen in this life. Persecution, spiritual warfare, living in a broken and wicked world brings with it all sorts of trouble. So why is Jesus saying “that you may have peace?” This seems to be a contradiction. So what is it? Peace or tribulation?
The answer is a very definitive…yes. It is possible to have both if we pay attention to three little words, “that in me.” If we lean on Jesus for our support, our salvation, our hope then we can still maintain peace. Real peace.
Jesus has overcome the world. This means that no matter what happens to us in this life we can know that God is bigger than our circumstance. God is working in the details. What we don’t understand – He does! When we see injustice – He sees where justice will be served! When we see pain – He sees purpose! There is never a circumstance in this life that God can’t make work for good.
Because Jesus suffered He can relate to our suffering. He knows how we are struggling with life in this broken world. In Romans 8 we see, 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Even when we don’t have words, we are wondering, “Why God? How God?” The Holy Spirit is interceding for us, a deep groaning that we can’t even describe. Even creation itself is described as being in the kind of pain a woman experiences in child birth. GOD SEES OUR PAIN!!
The joy and peace can come in knowing that God will not let this go on forever. For His purpose He is allowing these things to happen but He has overcome all of this suffering. Verse 28 says 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. God is working in our circumstance. What we are dealing with now is temporary. And if God is working IN the suffering that we are IN then we can know that we are not IN our circumstance alone.
Life is not easy. It is not always happy. But it is worth it in the end. At times God gives us glimpses of His purpose and His glory and that is truly awe-inspiring. When we are wondering how much longer we will have to endure, wondering how much more we can take, when we want to give up…we need to remember – it won’t always be this way, and that’s a promise. We can make it one more day. We can and we will! There is light at the end of the tunnel. And not the light of a train coming at us either.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4
National Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery