Where in the world did this ideology that the Christian life is supposed to be easy come from? As far as I can tell throughout the history of Christianity, from creation to present day, that if you choose to follow God it is difficult. Now I am no authority on the hands that God deals, but it seems to me that commonly those earnestly pursuing Him are more the ones who know Him on a deeper level, than the folks that attempt to create their own comfortable Christianity.
Fourscore and . . .
Eight years ago I had no idea the implications of that moment of accepting Christ. Had I known then the hardships I would face opposed to knowing what I know now I might have turned back. I cannot even being to speculate the trials people have gone through as believers, all I can work with is what I know, and have seen through others. It has been hard and that is probably sugarcoating it. Over the course of eight years I have been homeless, absolutely mad, starving (you would never know by looking at me), scrutinized, Calvinized, penalized, patronized, given in to the depths of my own fleshly desires, and everything else in between. Not to mention subjected to four summers at Village Creek Bible Camp. Ok that one is half a joke. In all seriousness though why am I telling you these things? None of this stuff I would have made it through had I not been dependent on Christ, but at the same time a lot of these things are a result of knowing God. None of this is to my glory but to His, and to show you the reality of the Christian life.
Kind of the anti message folks like Joel Olsteen present huh? Okay and extreme example, but this is a message that can be found in everything from Christian books, to your own small town church. Let me just clear the air though and say that not every person will have the same trials. What has been hard for me might have been easy for you and what was easy for me might have been hard for you. God deals with us all in different ways and is constantly (Christian Cliche in 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Christian Cliche now) meeting us where we are at. You see it throughout the entirety of Scripture to present day. As I said I have no idea God’s method for giving us our lots in life and saying He just does feels like a cop out, but playing the what if and speculation game is not going to do much for us either. God allows what He allows, that is the core truth, and so we can either keep depending on Him and deal with it, or drag our feet through it wishing in vain that things were different.
Where am I going with all this? Partly dependency and another part our perception of what is good for us. Christianity has turned into this shallow religion that only requires you to pray a prayer, attend a church, read the Bible and pray, all in sort of a ritualistic fashion. It is no wonder people turn away from not just the body, but even God. Instead of being equipped to follow and walk with God, believers are fed an ideology that being a Christian means material blessing in exchange for your devotion to the Christian faith. Once the reality of that sets in you can either continue your simple Christianity never being fulfilled, or you can embrace it. There are a lot of Christians trying to be blessed materialistically, and not a lot people with materials. Does that mean those who do have them are wrong or are doing something more than us? Of course not! What it does mean though is our goal should be to know God, not to gain material. God could care less about what material or worldly things we have, His only concern is us knowing and walking with Him. He will meet our needs but being blessed is not confined to the material and physical, but is something eternal, a growth that is only found in following Him.
Walking with God is hard stuff. Why is that? Having a relationship with God with bring out hardships not only physical but mental as well. One of the most annoying phrases we as Christians have come up with is “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Whoever believes that has never actually lived the Christian life, because yes He most certainly will! If God only gave us what we ourselves can handle, believers would have no reason to depend on Him to handle things for them! Then again is that not what many want the Christian life to be, something they can do in their selves without any outside help? We are designed to be dependent upon Him. We were created to be so before man first sinned and we are still meant to be so even after. Walking with God is hard, because typically we try to do it through our own strengths and abilities. Something that is good for us does not necessarily have to be pleasing for us. Is that not how God teaches us though our circumstances in life? Most of the time if I had it my way I would not be going through whatever it is I am going through, but I always look back and can see what God taught me in those moments of difficulty, of hardship. It is like when you are a kid and you have to take cough syrup. Cough syrup is absolutely disgusting and usually you do not want to take it, but in the end it is good for you and will eventually make you strong again, giving you strength to carry on and do what needs doing.
Where My Demons Hide
When I first learned I was Bi Polar I did a lot of praying. Honestly I prayed probably more than I ever have in my entire life. I prayed and prayed and prayed and the illness never went away. It still has not. All I could focus on was the negative aspects of being Bi Polar until one day one an epiphany hit me. I realized that while there were many negatives that came through my disorder, the positives that came through it were that much more. In that moment I was depending on God and if He was allowing me to remain Bi-Polar, why not receive treatment, move forward and use it? The process was hard but ultimately the result and impact of such was good. This is all in retrospect of course, I was not singing this tune then, as going through it was the depths of mental hell, but the fact still remains He has took those circumstances, this illness, and made me so much better because of it.
Now Not Later
I have said this so many times and I will say again, the Christian life is hard, but it is worth it. No matter what we are feeling or experiencing right now that says otherwise, we truly know the worth of what we have in eternity far overshadows what we do not in the here and now. Trials and hardships will always be in our lives that’s just the reality of it all. The question is are we going to dumb the Christian life down to milk based practicum that says otherwise, or are we going to seize it, taking hold of our hardship in His name not ours? Seizure begins when we can realize that what we are in for is hard, but it is by His strength that we can do it, not our own weakness. By claiming His strength and not ours, we have all the resources in the universe. The fact is right here, right now, the Lord has provided, and this moment is all any of us have to worry about, the rest is up to Him. It is hard but that is where it starts.
Right here, right now, seek Him, and what He wants you to get from your situation not what you want to get…
You Have Heard Some of My Story, Now Tell Me About Yours!
What are some of the hardships you have faced or are facing? How have you depended upon you position in Christ through hard times, or learned from the ones where you did not? Feel free to share in the comments below, I know I am not alone in this.