...no one ever said it would be this hard.
I don’t know if the guys in Coldplay are theologians, but the line sure resonates, doesn’t it?
Many people believe that following Jesus should be easy. Some say that if we follow Him our lives will be easy as well.
People preach this, the second part anyway. It’s called the health and wealth gospel, a belief that God will give good health and monetary wealth to His followers. Mega-churches are built around it.
You may have heard of a book called the Prayer of Jabez that was popular a few years ago. It’s predicated on this idea. I guess theory proved true for the author. The Prayer of Jabez reached number one on the New York Times Bestseller List, moving over nine-million royalty-generating copies.*
*Results not typical.
And why not? Jesus said, “[D]o not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
But is that the whole story? Follow Jesus and live without financial struggle. Take the easy path that promises the good life.
Well, yes, over the long haul it is the easy path. It’s much easier to follow the course established by God than it is to fight the Almighty Ruler of the Universe. (Trust me, you won’t win that one.) And it is the good life, but the good life doesn’t mean a Mercedes in every driveway and a lobster in every pot.
Jesus also said, “In this world you will have trouble.”
King David had horrible dysfunction in his family, as in rape and murder. The Apostle Peter was crucified upside down for his faith. Pastor Mark nearly died from a ruptured intestine. I was diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago. A good friend of mine has a disease in her eye that causes terrible pain.
When the Jewish people returned to Jerusalem from exile, they were determined to rebuild God’s temple, but enemies rose up to oppose them and put a stop to their work for sixteen years. Even though they were doing something that was undoubtedly glorifying to God, they still ran into significant opposition.
Even when we follow Jesus, life isn’t always easy. I won’t pretend to have this tension completely resolved. I don’t totally understand a promise not to worry about food or clothing when there are dedicated followers of Jesus who don’t get enough to eat.
Perhaps it’s not about changing our situations but changing our perspective. Maybe things won’t be easy, but maybe we can have the peace that passes understanding anyway. It just might be that we can experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, in spite of our circumstances.
Maybe we can rest in the fact that no matter what happens, we know that God is ultimately in control, that in the end, He will work things out for the good of those who love Him.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”