My thoughts have been all over the place for the past while which is also why I haven’t posted in several weeks. I’m fed up with what I’ve been witnessing around me; I could extend my anger and frustration to what’s happening worldwide with Ebola health threats, ISIS terrorists, and conflicts in Israel but there’s enough happening close to home to keep my thoughts drowning in negativity.
Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble.” Guess what? It’s true. I hate it, I really do but I’m most frustrated by people (friends) who should know the second part to what Jesus said, “But take heart (have courage), I have overcome the world.” I want to say to anyone who complains life is hard, life isn’t fair, “Quit your belly-aching and believe the word. Fair is where you buy cotton candy.”
I’m baffled when people are surprised when trouble comes. A friend tells me I don’t understand because I had a good childhood, with parents who love and support me. I agree; I don’t understand everyone’s struggle but my first thought when I heard even a hint of complaint against life, “Who are you to deserve better?” Of course, I don’t actually say that. (That’s probably why my friend won’t let me minister or counsel the troubled women she speaks to; I’m only allowed to minister in prayer intercession - at a distance.)
My life is not immune to trouble or pain but overall, yes, I’ve been very blessed. I don’t deserve the blessings I’ve received, and I certainly don’t understand why I’ve received them. It’s one of the many mysteries of God, however, when I was going through hell, I took Winston Churchill’s advice and kept going. Okay, I hadn’t heard Winston’s advice at the time (as good as it is), but I did claim Hebrews 12:1-3:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
There are two plans for everyone’s life: a plan which leads to a good, and hopeful future (Jeremiah 29:11) and a plan which leads to death, pain and destruction (John 10:10). Genesis 4:6-7 says, The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Sin desires you. In every situation there is a choice – sin, which leads to death or righteousness, which leads to life. We do not need to be a victim in everything. We have choices. If we live life believing it will be fair to us, we’ve already been deceived. There is no one worthy of goodness, and apart from God, there is no goodness. We all fall short, but take heart, He’s already overcome.
In Philippians, Paul writes he can do all things, through Christ who gives him strength. The strength which Jesus lends us is supernatural, but the verse doesn’t mean supernatural phenomena as is often interpreted. What Paul is saying is that he can maintain inner joy, peace and all things of the Spirit, no matter what the circumstance or situation. Paul didn’t belabour or complain that life wasn’t fair, he fought back and ruled over the thought that he must give in to the tragedy around him.
Even my Man was complaining about something this past weekend. I looked at him and agreed: life stuff sucks at the moment, but he didn’t have lines of defense available. There seems to be a message being taught that says we are saved by grace and there is nothing further we must work at. Even Paul, the greatest defender of Christian grace, said he worked out his faith with fear and trembling.
Overcoming something is hard work; it’s never easy but it can be rewarding. Have you ever seen American Ninja Warriors? Their fitness level didn’t just happen. If I attempted to try anything like that now, I’d damage my body severely. Would I have a right to complain life isn’t fair if I was hurt as a result?
My eye is on the prize, I want to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share in your Master’s joy.” I don’t want to be taken out or disqualified because I failed to do my part. To win the prize, I prepare. It takes discipline and hard work and perseverance. I’ve given up food, sleep, time, and even good opportunities to pursue the prize – it’s part of my working out my faith with fear and trembling, just like Paul.
I am not be the most merciful, or compassionate counsellor but I am good at reminding my friends of this: In this world, you will have trouble, but have no fear, Jesus has prevailed and overcome, which means you can overcome as well. Now do what he has commanded you to do and rule over the sin that desires you.