What do to when life sucks

Over the past few decades there have been numerous books that proclaim to have the knowledge you need in order to have an incredibly successful and fulfilled life.  The authors tell you that if you’ll follow their plan, you’ll have more than you could imagine.  Some of these authors are “spiritual” and propose something akin to karma.  Others title themselves as Christians and may even use Bible verses on occasion, however, they are simply teaching karma by another name.

The sad part about these books is that many of us have bought into their bookstand philosophies.  We approach God with the expectation that when I do something good He’ll reward it with what I want.  We also expect the reward to be immediate.  We’ve lost a sense of the eternal.

And another thing…how can someone proclaim to the mother who just lost her child to cancer that she can have her best life if she’ll just follow these steps?  How can we expect the person who just lost everything to have a more positive mental attitude (or PMA for you motivational junkies)?  What happens to the self help philosophy when everything we’ve achieved and hoped for is falling apart?  We look to something bigger than us, to Someone eternal…

Sometimes life just sucks and there’s no making it right this side of heaven.  Did you catch that?  It doesn’t all work out while we’re spinning around on this big blue ball.  The Bible tells us repeatedly to focus on things beyond the temporal: “we walk by faith, not sight”, “set your hearts on things above”, “store up treasures in heaven”, etc., etc., etc.  We’re also told that things will be difficult, especially for those who follow after Christ.

But sadly we have built our theology on the sand of our own expectations.  We are sorely disappointed when God doesn’t play by our rules and do what we want.  We’ve lost sight of the fact that, for one, we are created for His purposes and for another, that we are in a fallen world that is marred by our willful sin.

We need a theology that addresses the reality of life.  We need a God Who put on skin and suffered along with His creation.  And thankfully, we do.  Christ came as man and God.  He walked in our world.  He was killed by people He gave life.  So He understands our pain and our cries.  (Read Psalm 69 as it’s considered a prophetic passage, indicating some of what He was wrestling with before He went to the cross).

My hope is that we begin to discover that the worth of the gospel is in Christ Himself.  Christ tell us in John 17:3 that eternal life is knowing God and He tells us repeatedly that we can only know God through Him, that is Christ.

So what do we do when life sucks?  We look for Christ.  What else do I do?  We keep looking for Christ.  And after that, you keep looking.  And you will find Him.  Anything else will give fleeting hope at best.  We need something more than just a great life here and now.  We need something that’s eternal and that can’t be taken away.  And that is only in Christ, for He overcame our sin, our enemy and our death.

May His name be praised.

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The Waiting Room

17_waitingroom_invI have those days, today being one of them, where it feels like I’m just waiting on God to do something.  The thing about faith is that it means waiting.  We’re told to wait on God (Ps 37).  It’s like going to the doctor’s office, there’s a waiting room, and then you go to a smaller room where you wait some more (this is a Seinfeld bit, BTW).  Sometimes you wait a little, sometimes a lot.   I’m not quite sure what I’m waiting for, just that it’s what I’m supposed to do.  I’m not good at the waiting, the being still.  I’d rather be doing something.  But even when I’m restless and hurrying up to wait, even then God is still moving & working in some form or fashion.   That’s my hope.  And that is the essence of faith, isn’t it?  Being sure of what we hope for & certain of what we don’t see?  I look forward to when the waiting is done.  But until then, I’ll wait some more.

a God equation

I was running earlier and listening to a Steve Brown podcast on prayer.  I was reminded that God is not bound to do things the way I want Him to do it.  He’s not bound to answer my prayers the way I want or to do things my way.  He’s faithful to His promises and won’t deviate from that which is in His word, but He will not be confined to my formulas and equations of faith (e.g., 30 minutes of prayer + 30 verses read = 5 answered prayers).  I can do all the “right things” and God may still say no.  After all, He is God and He will do what is best and what will bring Him the greatest glory.

When I look at how and what God did throughout Scripture, I see Him doing crazy things  (burning bush, Jericho’s walls, talking donkey, Jonah in the fish, the Son of God dying a sinner’s death…you get the picture).  Point is, God is God and He will do what He wants, not what I want.   So I shouldn’t be surprised that His activity in my life isn’t as I would have planned it.  If I could direct my life, it would look more like a straight shot from point A to point B.  However, the picture of God’s direction in my life has been anything but a straight shot.  It has involved things that I would not have chosen on my own.  I would opt for the easier road given the choice.

God takes us to places we wouldn’t choose to go, yet in all these things, He is working out something far bigger than what we see.  He is working out eternal purposes through finite beings who have a finite understand and who, ironically, try to give direction to an infinite God (see Is. 55).   I often wonder what God is doing in my life.  My plans have pretty much been decimated.  But strangely enough, there’s a freedom in that.  As my expectations have been consumed like dry brush in a fire, I’m finding myself more open to whatever God has in store.  Much of the story has yet to be written.  So I eagerly await the next chapter, whatever that may be.  Thanks for sharing the journey with me.

When it isn’t easy or fun

Running is one of my favorite things to do. I’m not fast, so I don’t expect to win many races (although  I do plan to focus more on speed this year).  Some of my best times w/ God have come during my runs when I can get away from everything and just think and pray.

There are days like today when the Christian life feels very much like a long run that doesn’t feel good, when it becomes an issue of simply putting one foot in front of the other in the same direction until I reach the end.  There are days on the spiritual journey when it doesn’t “feel” great or fun or enjoyable.  These are the days when my faith can’t be based on “feeling” God’s presence but in trusting that He knows and does what’s best.

Sometimes (ok, a lot of times) I wonder what God is doing in my life.  Very few things have gone according to how I thought or planned.  I know this has everything to do w/ trusting in God’s sovereignty, however, I still struggle when things aren’t as I expected.  I know God is working out His perfect plan and that all is for His glory and for our good, but I still find myself wrestling with what I want and with what God wants.  I really look forward to when my faith is made sight.  Until then, it’s one foot in front of the other.