We have been grossly misinformed.
Somewhere… somehow… we picked up this idea that following Jesus in life was going to be easy. The very idea that we could sign on to follow a Man who was rejected and brutally murdered by the very people He was sent to save and expect a cake walk for ourselves is entirely asinine.
In a world completely contrary to all that Jesus came to show how can we expect to live a life free of pain? Free of struggle? Free of sweat and perseverance? What need is there for patience if every thing will start to go our way once we speak the magic words?
Just have faith… don’t actually put any effort into what you want to see, just recite some words from a 15-minute devotional and you’re good. That, my friends, is inaccurate.
It was Jesus who said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.”
Try as we will, we cannot get away from this. It is truth.
Please do not hear me saying “faith is wrong” or, “belief is useless.” No, on the contrary, FAITH IS ESSENTIAL. But without action, faith is dead (passed away, no more, lifeless).
I am all for being blessed by God. Please God, BLESS MY LIFE! But I think we miss it when we take the blessings for granted, and we cheapen them when we use them as a replacement for taking action.
“I want to be successful in life. I want a glamorous marriage, a plump bank account, model-citizen children, and a thriving business. God is good and He blesses us… so I will just wait for it to come to me.”
Never mind the fact that a good marriage only comes through HARD WORK and tons of self-sacrifice. Forget that a good work ethic and disciplined spending habits are essential to financial well being. Parenting… that’s a song and dance I dare not claim experience in anytime soon. I have begun to see dreams – yes, even God dreams (shout out Abraham and Drake) – take long hours, hard work, and treading water in an ocean of discouraging moments, in order to achieve.
That is our part, but it is here the blessing of God comes. It makes rich (in life, in love, in joy, not just money) and adds no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22)
When we use the blessing of God to justify our own laziness and half-heartedness we are poor representations of the Kingdom.
Look through the pages of the Bible…
Noah, David, Nehemiah, Paul, JESUS. These were builders. They were doers. Movers and shakers. AND GOD BLESSED their endeavors.
Noah built the world’s biggest boat with no power tools, no Home Depot, and little help. David used his gifts in the lowliest of positions and put in work when nobody else was looking.
Nehemiah was a glorified waiter that decided to become an engineer and tackle a massive building project that God’s people had put off for years on years. Oh, and he finished it in just a few month’s time!
Paul worked until his muscles gave out, sweat stained his tunics, and his hands were raw building tents, just to turn around and create an entire movement all across the known world in his “free time.”
We love to talk about all that Jesus did in His days on earth but read right past the parts that tell us how He got there… He WALKED EVERYWHERE. He denied Himself sleep, food, and the comforts so many other were accustom to.
We are arrogant if we think we can just snap our fingers and expect God to make everything fall into place for us in this life. I believe God blesses the effort. He graces the grind. He provides stamina when we feel we can’t go on and peace when we would otherwise meltdown at the hands of stress and worry.
When we take the literal “leap of faith” and follow Jesus, we are not mystically transported into a different reality than all the “heathen and sinners.”
Nope – we are all still on the same blue and green rock spinning around the sun. We experience the same setbacks, struggles, and frustrations. The difference?
“BUT be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Jesus. He is the difference. His work is the key to unlocking the blessing that sets our work apart from those around us. Look at Joseph and Daniel and you will see that God’s hand on His children sets them apart from their peers.
But to simply lie around and hope God does it (hashtag: wonthedoit!) all for us would mean we think God is the type of parent that spoils their children to their own detriment.
If you never tell your children “no” how are you preparing them for a world that doesn’t give a flea’s fart about their feelings and their desires or dreams? How are you equipping your kid to handle adversity when you shelter them from every sign of resistance? That is throwing the sheep to the wolves.
Our God is a Good Shepherd, and even decent shepherds protect their own from the predator. Could it be that in experiencing struggle and adversity God is demonstrating His love for you?
Where He wants nothing more than to rush in and take it all away, He holds back in order to let what is best for you in the long run take place.
If you never face resistance you never get strong. If you never experience loss you never savor victory. If you never look difficulty in the eyes you never learn to trust outside yourself.
We will not develop a faith in God if we never come up against things out of our control. He never has a platform to show Himself mighty if He paves the road with rainbows and unicorns. God is faithful and He is good… you have to know there is something contrary in order to assign any value to these traits He embodies.
SO… Yes, you and I are blessed! But that is not an excuse to sit back and do nothing until Jesus decides it is time to go home. What has God put in your heart? That was given to you to accomplish. To GO AFTER. All the while, trust God to bless your attempts and lean into His grace to make up for your weakness and shortcomings.
In other words: GIVE GOD SOMETHING TO BLESS!
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