I was once in a church where it was taboo to say anything negative. If you had hardships in your life, it was supposedly a result of a few things:
- You were cursed. (Somehow your fault)
- You weren’t praying and fasting enough. (You guessed it again, your to blame)
- Your faith hadn’t been activated. (Guess who might be blamed here that?)
- There was generational, or personal sin in your life. (Yep, guilty again)
I remember the first Sunday we left that church. I stood in the back of a quiet sanctuary, where gentle worship lingered, lyrics such as, “Laying our crown before you” played through my heart.
Those words gripped me. “Lay our crown before you.” And the thought of laying my crown at the feet made me feel small in the most incredibly wonder way.
Tears started streaming. Repentance came after realizing how quickly and quietly pride had weaseled it’s way into my heart recently, without me even realizing it.
I had been deceived into believing the preposterous notion that, “If I am just spiritual enough, I should never have hardships”.
- Why had I forgotten what scripture tells me. “It rains on the just and the unjust”? (Matt 5:45)
- Or disqualified Paul who had a thorn in his flesh, no prayer or repenting could get rid of? (2 Cor. 12)
- What about the story of Job who didn’t deserve it, but was sifted by satan, having everything taken away, as a test (sort of) to see where his heart lay?
- And why didn’t Jesus avoid dying, if life was all about escaping hardships and suffering?
I felt like Job that day, tears streaming, sitting stripped, unnoticed in the back of that humble church, everything taken, and yet, because of Christ’s payment, grace and mercy no less evident.
Despite what I’d done, I was free to live without fear or condemnation, shame or guilt, or even the pride that tries to hijack what God was doing in my heart.
I had been stripped from everything; pride, position, and the notion that I had anything good to offer God. It was beautiful and freeing, in the most awesome and wonderful way.
I was reminded, I am a sinner, saved not by good works, but grace and His mercy.
New Age teaching says we can “control” our world by the power of positive thinking. We can attain things with knowledge, will power, positive environments, and sending good vibes out into the universe.
But God doesn’t need our help, He doesn’t want our coercion or manipulation….He simply wants our surrender.
Jesus wasn’t afraid of darkness, so why should we be? He wasn’t afraid of hardship, difficulty, or desserts. In fact, in the midst of those things, that’s when redemption was nearest.
“Teacher, whose sin caused this man to be born blind—his own sin or his parents’ sin?” (John 9) The disciples asked Jesus one day.
They too had been influenced by similar thinking, that if something bad happened, it must be a result of sin.
Why do people do this? Always want to explain away our circumstances, instead of trusting God with them?
Jesus replay? “The man was born blind so that God’s power can be shown in him.” (John 9:3)
- Power coming through blindness?
- Weakness showing itself so that His strength could be made sufficient?
- Empty vessels willingly pouring out His goodness?
This must have been a strange and new concept, one difficult for the disciples to understand.
I cannot tell you how often, I have devoured scripture’s to learn the truth of the true Gospel….
And guess what friends? Bad things do happen to good people.
God allows suffering to reveal His purposes. Life can be hard, but simultaneously glorious and beautiful.
- Maybe your going through a hard time as your reading this?
- Maybe you have struggled with guilt due to a situation in your life?
- Maybe you have bought into the lies that a true Christ follower should never have hardships?
Well, let me assure you…
Regardless of whether your having a Job, or Simeon experience, when we surrender, give in, and lay whatever it is we are facing at the cross, His mercy is sufficient.
Faith can rise, and beauty truly can be found amidst ashes.
Still struggling to overcome? Here are some Rich Faith Rising posts you might find encouraging: