and ramblings on everything in between
Loving God doesn’t equal an easy life. There, I said it. It doesn’t automatically make us good or perfect or safe. Even though I know this, I have a bad habit of thinking that I’m exempt from life. Not because I love God, but because I’m naive and think that bad things happen out there and not right here.
On my baby brother’s 25th birthday a friend at church lost her baby brother. He was walking along the side of the road when a car struck him. He was going about his day living a life he wasn’t exempt from. What if I was her and she was me? Why wasn’t it me instead of her?
I carry around a lot of fear for the things that happen to other people but don’t happen to me. I know I can ask God to take away the fear, but I can’t ask God to spare me from what might happen in my life. Believing in Jesus doesn’t mean that evil will stay at bay, that my mother won’t get cancer, or that my house won’t get broken into one day. God doesn’t say it will be easy to be a Christ follower, but He promises it will be worth it.
“How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear [God], that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19
“Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” Proverbs 8:34
I started looking through the Bible to find Biblical characters that were set apart by God and had crappy lives. And by crappy, I mean brutal hardships. God picked them for a higher purpose, but that didn’t make their lives easy.
Samson (Judges 13-16): Samson was chosen by God to rescue Israel from the Philistines. The spirit of the Lord took hold of him and he set out to disrupt the Philistines and remove Gaza’s Gates. Once the Philistines captured him, they gouged out his eyes, bound him in chains, and put him in prison. I can’t imagine how much it hurts to have your eyes gouged out, but I hope I never find out. A man of God who was not exempt from the hardships of life.
Paul (The Book of Acts): Saul was at first a persecutor of Christians until Jesus shone his bright light and opened Saul’s eyes on the road to Damascus. Saul then changed his name to Paul and set out to make disciples of men. During his life, he suffered unimaginable pain, including vicious floggings and imprisonment. Through all his pain, he clung to this: “I can do all things through Christ who strengths me.” (Philippians 4:13). Another man of God who was not exempt from life.
Jesus (The Book of Matthew): And let us not forget the ultimate pain and suffering endured for God. Jesus knew his life would end on a cross and in the days before his death, he spoke to God, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) Jesus knew what was going to happen, he knew the pain he would endure, but he accepted that if it had to be done then he would carry it out. Jesus, God’s own son, wasn’t saved from the pain and evil in this world.
My pastor recently spoke on reevaluating our assumptions of God and who He really is. Some people cling to Him because they want to be saved from this life, not because they want to be granted an eternal life. This mirrors how people during Jesus’ time believed he was going to be King on Earth. When they realized he was going to be King in Heaven they wanted nothing to do with him. They didn’t want their life to be easy in the future; they wanted it to be easy right there in that moment.
Our outcome in life has nothing to do with how good or bad we are. Yes, good decisions tend to lead to better decisions, just as bad decisions can lead to worse decisions. I’m sure we all know someone who doesn’t have a mean bone in their body but has walked through some exceptionally crappy things. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” we often wonder. Life is messy regardless of which camp we fall into. Being good doesn’t make us exempt from our lives. Being a Christ follower doesn’t grant us a pass on things we’d rather not go through. It’s when we look beyond what we’ll get out of loving Him that we can accept it won’t be easy, but it will be so so worth it.
“I have told you these things so that in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12