I'm sitting here after enjoying an incredible time away with my mother. We enjoyed the beautiful Grand Cayman Island. It was lovely. While I was there, I was able to reflect, breathe and read a couple of books that reminded me of how much I need the Lord.
For those interested, the two books were Breaking the Idols of your Heart: How to Navigate the Temptations of Life by Dan B. Allender and Tremper (what cool name) Longman III, and Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller. Both touched on how the deeply rooted modern day idols (namely money, sex, power, righteousness, even spirituality) can affect your life. They both have some extremely valid and Biblical points about how painful and real these idols are. Frankly, I could write an entire blog series about the things that stood out to me. But, I'm going to focus on just one- because it was a harsh, but healthy reminder of this truth that I cannot forget.
Here it is: My relationship with Jesus Christ does not exempt me from suffering.
Read that again. Upon first glance, it probably is a bit of a downer right? "Life is hard." But there's more to it than that. If you look at it, there's an expectation that this phrase is attacking. How often, as a believer, do I look up to the heavens when pain or loneliness comes and scream out "Why God?!?" as if I had an expectation that life would not be hard- that I would not suffer. There are times when I actually do think that because I am a Christian, I'm entitled to a free and easy ride. Which is why I get so upset when it isn't that way. And frankly, it's pretty ridiculous considering that a large chunk of Scripture actually teaches me how to respond to suffering. I read examples of how God comforts, of how pride keeps us from resting, even rejoicing in the midst of hardship.
So, if I live in a way that I do not get surprised when things are hard, but rather allow yourself mourn when it's sad, cry when it's painful, and then actively seek out the blessings- because they do exist. If I think about the times when I just choose to not recognize what He has done for me, it honestly blows my mind- how blind can I be? I mean besides the whole saving me from eternal separation from God thing, He's blessed me with family, work, passion, music, friends, a home...I have no reason to not rejoice. And rejoicing need not be ecstatic, but maybe just gratitude for the fact that I'm breathing.
We cannot expect a free and easy life, but we can anticipate that by God's grace, He has provided us with truth, strength and grace to walk through them.
I really need to get better at remembering this. Because how often does forgetting this truth lead to choices that I regret?