a storm chasing us across the Nebraska prairie
This picture resembles my life right now. Not to be dramatic or anything...haha. But really, I feel like storms have been chasing us for so long. Just when we think we're finally recovering from the last brutal blast, we're laid low again. I've never bought into the "prosperity gospel", the Bible (and the life of Jesus himself) clearly contradicts it, but it's been preached and advertised from every corner for so long, it's hard not to fall prey to it's prideful message. According to this false gospel, if we face hardships of any kind then we are clearly not walking in God's will. Especially if we face financial hardship. That is of course a red flag (according to this false gospel) that we are not praying correctly, claiming the blessings, walking in righteousness. This is not a new teaching. Even in Jesus' time the poor were despised and looked down upon as if God had cursed them with their poverty. That must have been why Jesus was so adamant that the "gospel be preached to the poor." (Luke 4:16-21, Luke 7:22) Jesus even makes what must have seemed an outrageous statement when he claims that the poor are blessed and the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. (Luke 6: 20-21) So why is it so hard for us to believe we are blessed when we have little?
And then there's that nagging feeling as a Christian that maybe our seas would be smoother and we could avoid trouble and hardship altogether if we were just a "better" Christian. Sometimes when calamity strikes, it creeps into my heart--this haunting feeling of abandonment by God. But God isn't the one leaving. He promised he would never leave us or forsake us. We are the ones abandoning His Word. Because His Word clearly tells us that "in this world you will have trouble". (John 16:33) Be ready for it. Don't despise it. Don't let others convince you it's happening because God is punishing you. Don't let the enemy convince you God has left you. Only hear the words of Jesus echoing through time and into your soul, "But take heart! I have overcome this world." (John 16:33)
I remember as a young Christian I found little comfort in this verse. "Yeah, Jesus, YOU have overcome this world, but what about me? I still have to live in it." The beginning of that verse came rushing back to me, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace." God knew I would say that. So he gave me a proclaimer. Thanks, God. IN Him. I am hidden IN Christ. My life is not my own anymore, but His. And because of that reason, and that reason alone, I have overcome this world. "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:3)
So what do I do now? I let Christ live and love through me, even in the midst of my trials. I would lie if I said this was easy. It's not. I still struggle with thoughts of God's abandonment or that somehow I did something that displeased Him and that is why I suffer. But God knew I would question, he knew I would need assurance of His love. And He filled His Word with assurance:
"Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.") No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us." (Romans 8: 35-37)
He loves me. That's all I need to know to see me through.