As new believers we can often feel discouraged when the life we signed up for in following Christ turns out to have problems, disappointments, hardships and or even flat-out failure.
Far too often the worldly illustration of “the Church” does Christianity a disservice by portraying a life of bliss solely filled with peace and joy with an abundance of success and fruitful relationships. When in reality, becoming a Christian doesn’t mean there won’t be problems coming our way, but that we can rely on God when they do.
I grew up in Church, going to youth groups and Bible studies pretty much all of my youth, adolescence and even as a young adult. Even as a seemingly mature Christian, I grew frustrated with God when things didn’t go as I expected or wanted, sometimes I even thought that God had let me fall and didn’t care about me.
Maybe that’s how you feel right now. Or maybe you didn’t even grow up around the church or reading the Bible, that’s ok.
Perhaps you came to Christianity later in life, in search of Joy and Peace, a better life than you lived prior to knowing God’s grace. But maybe sometimes you feel like you are living something you didn’t really sign up for.
I want to encourage you today and yet also set clear that our goal as christians is not to live a life free of struggles but one where we can grow in strength and faith in God. Being a christian is not about having a better life for ourselves, but living a life that is for Him and in Him.
Jesus told his Disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Matthew 16:24-26
Jesus isn’t saying to starve yourself, don’t work out, or strive to be the best you can, but to put His will above yours and be prepared to face the consequences of the world who will rebuke you as they did Him.
James 1:2-4 says we should consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds because we know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. This is where we get the saying from “struggle makes you stronger."
We can find joy in the different struggles of our lives if we decide to trust God in the middle of them. And know that we can grow in faith and persevere if we turn to Him and find in Him all we need.
David understood this when he wrote in Psalms 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” and in some translations “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing." In the same way, God is your Shepherd, He is your Father and you lack nothing if you have Him by your side.
If you are a new believer or perhaps returning to the Father like the prodigal son, remember that a life filled with Christ is meant to be lived more abundantly and that He is here to assist you with any hurdles along the journey. He is accessible with a simple prayer and will always be there to help you back up again.
And maybe the christian life doesn’t look what you thought you were signing up for. But trust me, if you hang on to God and persevere, you’ll find out it’s even better than what you’ve expected!