I want to tell you a story.
These past few weeks have been really rough ones for me. And, of course, what counts as “rough” is all relative to each individual…but for me? Rough.
I managed to obtain two abscesses that I had surgery on, I’m not feeling very at home in my apartment on campus, I was rejected from the student leadership position I applied for, I’m finding out how much baggage I’m carrying from my teen years, got behind in some classes, can’t lose an ounce of weight and the list goes on. All of this was at its peak around Easter, when I’m supposed to be appreciating Christ’s ultimate acts of love for me. While still suffering, I randomly began to wonder how the heck I was not collapsing. These things seem petty, until they all happen at once.
The Lord has been in my life since I was seven years old, but there are times when I forget He is my source of strength and then there are times when He makes Himself so evident to me. I found myself not only being sustained, but actually able to have joy, in the midst of my struggling! Joy for myself and joy in how I was treating others. It was awesome! And quite frankly, this realization hit me over and over again as I kept wondering why I wasn’t sulking or feeling sorry for myself instead. I got really excited. God is incredible! He was overcoming my natural reactions to earthly pain. I started to wonder to myself, “How does anyone do life without Jesus?” I honestly don’t know. I don’t remember, really, what life was like before Jesus saved me at 7 years old. I do remember, though, all those times when the Lord put Himself in front of me in a way I just could not possibly ignore.
Due to my renewed excitement for Jesus, I decided to risk looking cheesy and give a toast to Jesus at Easter dinner with my family and grandparents. With the exception of our exchange student, Jongwon, we all knew the Lord…so then why did many of their eyes looked glazed over when I talked about how much our Lord and what He did to save us, meant to me? I guess God just grabs and wakes us up at different times. In different seasons, we experience different traits of the Lord…sometimes through people in our lives, sometimes through Him directly.
That wasn’t the last time I wondered how people live on this earth without Jesus. I kept thinking about it randomly and it made me want to tell others more and more.
My sisters and I went to Davis last Sunday to hang out. We were on our way to Pete’s Coffee when we passed by a homeless dude. I couldn’t help but stop and ask him if he’d like a burrito from Chipotle. I walked in and waited in line with the guy and wanted so badly to tell him about Jesus. I actually to go, but our conversation was short lived. I’m not homeless, but I think I’d have just as much despair as he did if I didn’t have the Lord to sustain me.
On Easter Sunday, I went to my church in Rocklin. You know, the whole story of Easter is really downplayed. When it’s taken as truth and really thought about, one cannot help but get so overwhelmed with hope! Jesus came to earth through illegitimate birth and was born in a feeding trough. He was always God, but grew up like any other kid in His culture. Then He began His ministry by dressing and eating most humbly, being tired, not having a home, hanging out with the social rejects, having compassion and healing the “worst” sins and “worst” sicknesses. He proved time and time again that He was God. Those awaiting His coming thought He was a total liar. Those who didn’t expect Him, followed Him out of curiosity and then faith. He was accused of a crime He didn’t commit and even His closest family and friend would not associate with Him then. He was sentenced to death. Those who thought He was a lair thought they had ended a big problem. Those who followed Him were filled with hopelessness. Then 3 days after burial, He came back to life and appeared to over 500 people to prove it. Jesus fulfilled every prophecy to the T…the biggest one being that He conquered death….something that no other man or supernatural deity of sorts has EVER done. He went thought that crap of a life and disgusting death because, as God, Him doing that once, saves each one of us from having to suffer through it. And the best part about this story is that the “do-good-er’s” were not the ones saved because they thought they could pull it together all on their own. It was the hurting, the judged people of society, the ugly ones, the “just-not-good-enough” people that were saved. And the truth is, everyone is one of these messed up people…it’s when we’re willing to admit that and realize our identity and worth is in Christ alone, that we are raised up and receive a hope and joy FAR BEYOND what anyone who is trying to make their own life great, will experience!
THIS IS WHY I GET SO EXCITED ABOUT JESUS!
He did for me what I could never achieve because He is God and I am not. He saved me from pain I don’t even want to think about.
There’s this hymn that I love… it says:
“In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song. Firm through the fiercest drought and storm”
Does life suck sometimes? Hell yes it does!
Does God fix your every problem and make life perfect? No.
Why not? Man chose a life of being apart from God back in Genesis, so we live with the consequences…but God had compassion and that’s why He sent Jesus to be the ultimate sacrifice for all of the crap we do. Because of that, we can lean on Him during the rough patches and thank Him when He gets us through. And then, when we’re in a place of strength and joy, we can use what we do have to praise Him and tell others about this amazing source of contentment and joy and strength that we’ve found.
That same hymn also says,
“No guilt in life, no fear in death. This is the power of Christ in me. No power in hell, no scheme of man could ever pluck me from His hand!”
So if God is all-powerful, why does He let little girls get sold for sex, people die of AIDS and starvation, family matters hurt innocent kids, bullies beat up others, and all the undeserving people get hurt like they do?
Not even the greatest theologians, missionaries, pastors, or whomever, know the answer to that.
God wants us to seek out who He is and get to know Him more, but we are never going to be able to fully understand Him or why we live on earth this way. If we did understand, we would be God and would therefore have no need for Him.
Why do I have epilepsy? Why do so many people find me intimidating when I just want to love? Why did my neighbor’s Dad get unjustly sent to prison for 5 years? Why are people laid off from their jobs? Why did my best friend’s future brother-in-law get shot to death?
Ya know, we all have crap on our plate and there’s hardly ever a good reason for it. God sees it. He sees every time we hurt or are happy. But He never forces anyone upon Himself. We have to give up our selfish tendencies for Him… a life walking with God does not necessarily mean an easy life. It means joy in the middle of sorrow, though….and a constant companion that never leaves you. You’ll never feel alone again. We may walk away from God. He never walks away from us.
There is a certain joy in truth…undeniable, proven truth… that I know and I want all others to know. It’s God’s grace and truth in my life that allows me to live day by day.
I want you to know this truth too.