Trusting God Doesn’t Mean Things Will Be Easy

Bonsai-adjustmentGod cares about His people, but He does so on a much deeper level than we realize. He cares about what happens to us into eternity. His goal for us here and now is to make us like His Son. We are being conformed–molded, shaped, fashioned–into the likeness of Jesus.

This process of trimming and pruning is quite different from what most people think of in connection with the Christian life. I dare say, there are those who think once a person becomes a Christian, God is on their side. In a recent post I even stated, “Apparently God chooses sides.”

By that, I did not mean what many people think, however. A Christian hasn’t simply added to his team the biggest and best person around. He hasn’t ensured his chances of success because he now has someone greasing the wheels to make his plans work.

And despite Tim Tebow’s very public display of praising God during his football games, God doesn’t want my team to win more than He wants your team to win just because I’m a Christian. (The truth of this becomes clear when two Christians want different, opposing teams to win).

The Christian life, then, is not about getting God to give us what we want to be happier, healthier, richer, more comfortable, stable, protected, or respected than the next guy. A person who claims the name of Christ is not getting a pass when it comes to hardship.

Christians still lose their jobs and have car accidents. Their computers crash, and their loved ones die. They get cavities, acne, cancer. They have rebellious kids and unfaithful spouses. Bills pile up. Colleagues stab them in the back. Muggers stab them in the chest.

And they die. We die.

Happy New Year. 😉

The point isn’t that God steps in and saves us from human tragedy or suffering or trouble, though He sometimes chooses to do so. But He always walks through life with us, maximizing the joys and minimizing the sorrows.

Isaiah 43:2 says it well:

When you pass through the water, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.

I find it interesting that God said those words, through Isaiah, to Israel. In the preceding verse, He identifies them in this way:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!”

So I have to think, in what way is the Christian different? We have been redeemed, called, and claimed. This promise, then, is for us as much as it was for Israel. God isn’t going to let us pass through floods except that He’ll be with us. And when we walk through fire He will protect us.

We’ll still have to experience the fire, though. The difference is that we’ll come out the other side un-scorched.

So Christians don’t have things easy–but it might be a little easier to go through hard times with someone rather than alone, knowing that there’s a grand purpose for it and a sweet end waiting.

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Published in: on January 9, 2014 at 8:05 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 Comments

  1. Yes! I’ve always loved the story of the three thrown into the furnace and but when people looked in they saw four men. God didn’t keep them out of the furnace, and he didn’t take them immediately out of the furnace. He went into the furnace with them and they walked around in there for a bit.

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    • The perfect illustration, Sally! Thanks for adding that.

      Becky

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  2. This reminds me of a quote from Mother Angelica the founder of the television network EWTN. She said something to the effect that if we knew how good suffering was for our soul, we’d ask for more of it. (I’m not there yet!)

    Christians suffer. Look at the early Christians who died in the Roman arena. But with God on their side that suffering had a purpose, and those early martyrs were the seed of the church.

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    • Interesting, Nissa. I don’t think I’d be volunteering, though part of me wishes I could get there. Instead, I pray that God will make me want what He wants so He doesn’t have to give me the suffering side of the molding and making process. I suppose that shows what a weak person I am.

      I love the stories of Christian martyrs–from the early Church up through today. I cry to think they had such faith, and their sacrifices do strengthen me and give me more courage.

      Becky

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  3. Thanks for this clarification.

    So I have to think, in what way is the Christian different?

    I’ve been wondering that for pretty much my whole life. Have I had a genuine Christian experience? Do unbelievers go through life feeling an empty gap where I have something tangible? If not, does that mean that I’m going to hell?

    I think we put too much stock in the experience, though. I don’t think most Christians have some kind of spiritual awareness of God’s personal presence in their lives.

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    • Bainespal, what I was getting at is that Christians are also God’s chosen people, in the same way Israel was. He called them, He’s called us. He redeemed them, He’s redeemed us. They were His people, we are His people (“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession . . .” – 1 Peter 2:9a).

      But about a “genuine Christian experience,” I used to wonder that about myself as well. For years. My mom related a dramatic emotional experience when she came to Christ, and I didn’t have anything like that.

      Finally someone helped me see that “experience” isn’t important. Really, it’s not what I feel but what I know, what I trust to be true. I don’t have to feel that God saved me or that He’s with me. I have to know He saved me and that He’s with me.

      This is why I care so much about the authority of the Bible. Apart from Scripture, what do we know for sure? If we rely on what we feel or the experience we think we had, that could change from day to day. One person feels one thing, and another, the opposite. One day we feel close to God, the next we feel distant.

      I will say this. Since I stopped trying to figure out if I was a Christian and just accepted the fact that God meant what He said–that I had to confess Jesus and believe to be saved (Romans 10:9)–I actually have “experienced His presence.”

      The thing is, when I don’t have that kind of experience, I don’t go into a tailspin of questioning. I see my relationship with God like I do any other relationship. For example, I have a sister who lies 90 miles north of me. I don’t think of her all the time, but as soon as I do, I have this sense of our unique relationship. If she doesn’t call for a while, I don’t wonder if suddenly I’m not her sister any more. She is, and always will be, my sister, whether or not I’m thinking about something else or doing something other than talking to her.

      So too with God. Because He is faithful, we can be assured that He will keep us in His family. We don’t have to have a constant conscious awareness of God. In fact, I think some people chase that kind of experience–a spiritual high–rather than a genuine relationship with God. Maybe that’s why He withholds such experiences from some of us–so we don’t turn them into something they weren’t intended to be.

      Becky

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