“You are going to have a hard time in life,” he said. It was true then, and it’s still true today.
Those tough words won’t ever be the title of a popular Christian best seller. Heavens no. Heck no, too! As a side note — or sarcastic note — here are some titles that you might find on a Christian best seller list:
- Happiness in Seven Minutes, or Less
- Full life, full pockets
- Raising Pets that Honor God
- Fulfill all of your dreams: God dotes on you because you really are that special and deserve it
Pardon the hyperbole in the titles, but some “Christian” books suggest things that are almost this absurd. And they sell.
Back to life being tough. Who spoke those dreary words in the intro to this post? Uh, Jesus did. Dang.
We all like to receive good news. Personally, I prefer to hear the truth even more. If the two happen to be the same, then great. If not, that’s to be expected in this world. I am not a pessimist. I am far from it. I am an optimistic realist. Moreover, I try to be a biblicist. So, let’s see what the Bible has to say about a tough life for those who follow Christ.
Jesus said things to His early followers like:
- “count the cost…” Luke 14:28-33
- “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:14
- “In this world you will have trouble…”John 16:33
In Romans 8:18 and James 1:5, Paul and James add to this line of thought showing that the Christian life isn’t an easy meander from here to eternity. Rather, its a uphill climb, and at times requires some rock-climbing-like effort.
Being a genuine, biblical, non-bandwagon or trend-following Christ-follower means that you will endure some tough times as you live by faith and because you live by faith in Christ.
I don’t want to be a spiritual downer, but the Bible paints a picture that many Christian followers would like to keep swept under the rug. Namely, that the Christian life, though full of God’s best for us, is ripe with difficulty.
I want happiness, comfort, and ease as much as you do. But, those aren’t the primary components of the Christian life. Rather, Jesus promised peace, joy, and abundant living. Please don’t confuse happiness and ease (based on circumstances) with joy and peace (based on Christ and his provision for our needs). Happiness comes and goes like a vapor; joy abides forever, and it can also blossom during hardship.
The abundant Christian life is full of joy, gladness, peace, and purpose. Indeed, those very things are often borne during hardship, and raised up through difficulty.
So, for a hard time call…call yourself “His.” And mean it, and live it.
Know that through hardship comes growth, depth, and a strong message to others.
For example, in Acts 16:16-34, Paul and Silas were attacked, stripped down to their boxer shorts, beaten, thrown in jail, and locked down in stocks. All this happened because they were sharing Christ and upset someone’s apple cart. Please read those verses, it’s amazing stuff.
While in jail, and aching from their beating, Paul and Silas began to pray and sing hymns to God. The last phrase in Acts 16:25 is poignant, “and the prisoners were listening to them.”
The hardship that Paul and Silas had endured amplified their sincerity and steadfastness in honoring Christ. Keep in mind that they were not visiting the prison passing out Gospel booklets, or at home praying for those in the prison, they were in the prison because of their obedience to Christ. When genuine Christ-followers are steadfast during awful times, it points to the greatness of Christ, His promises, and His Holy Spirit. It also reveals to those who do not know Christ precisely what they do not have, or have to rely upon in their lives.
So, for a hard time call yourself “His.” It will lead to some hard times, but to even more great times.