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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Where’s the finish line, for crying out loud?

Most people who know me know that I run, albeit slowly. One of the things I enjoy about running is that it can be amazingly simple – the only special equipment you need is a good pair of running shoes. I also run because I’m a huge ice cream fan (my favorite is Fudge Moose Tracks, in case you were wondering). Several years ago I ran my first marathon (that’s 26.2 miles). Training for the marathon was pretty simple: each week I would run a little bit further until I was ready to run 26 miles. Running for several hours at a time can be fun, exciting, challenging, overwhelming, boring, painful, emotional (watch the finishers at a marathon sometime – you’ll see what I mean), etc. There are times when you feel great and other times when you’re ready to quit and go get a milkshake (or a Gibson’s donut).

Running also gives us a great picture of life. On several occasions, the Bible compares our journey to running as it is a;lso a process of endurance, joy, pain, and sometimes boredom.

I feel like I’ve been relating to the enduring part a lot lately. Sometimes I wonder, “where the heck is the stupid finish line?” I feel like I’ve been running for a very long time and I’m ready to be done. I’m tired of the enduring and ready to move on to something else. And yet, the very thing that is exhausting is the very thing that God is using to shape me into a more Christ like follower (see James 1:1-8). And that’s what I’m called to be, a follower. I’m called to go where He leads. Just like the coach who pushes the athletes, so God pushes us and challenges us for He knows that it is through the trying and testing that our faith grows stronger which is pleasing to Him (see Heb 11:6).

The life that God calls us to is not a natural way of life. Paul expresses recognition of this in Galatians 2:20 when he tells us that he lives his life by faith in Christ who lives in him. Unless he relies on Christ, he is unable to live as Christ has called, he will be unable to finish the race. That is why we are instructed to focus on Christ (Heb 12:1-2), so that we might recognize Who it is that calls us and Who it is that will complete His work in us.

So, I will keep running. I may be slow, I may walk, I may get injured, I may falter, I may fall down, but by God’s grace, I will keep moving toward that finish line, wherever it may be.

The following video is of Team Hoyt, a father/son team, which has completed multiple IronMan events – that’s a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride followed by a marathon.  The thing is, the dad is pulling & carrying his son through the entire event as his son has cerebral palsy and is unable to walk.  I can’t think of a better example of endurance and sharing the journey.