Being a Christian is hard.
Oh, it’s not the salvation from our sins part of it. See, Jesus did all the heavy lifting when it comes to our salvation, so that part is surprisingly easy. “If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” - Romans 10:9
No, I’m talking about the whole part after salvation, you know, the: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” - Luke 9:23-24
When you start living your life according to God and the truths found in the Bible, life starts to feel a little different. Rather than sitting in an inner tube and floating down the river, you become one of the few crazy people swimming with all your might against the current. It’s tough. It’s challenging. It’s tiring, and it can be very discouraging when you feel like you are swimming with all your might and yet not making any progress.
Somedays I wonder if Justin and I are crazy?! Why have we taken on this life we live? Why are our nights filled with ACTS (our youth group) planning? Why did we take on a third child so close in age to our daughter? Why do I choose to stay home with my kids when half the day seems like whining and I find myself repeatedly picking up the same toys I just put away an hour ago?
What I've discovered is the more we conform our lives to God’s Word, the more often I find myself on my knees in complete exhaustion crying out to God for renewal and strength. Living my life with abandon for God is hard. The more I have stepped out in faith and picked up that cross, the more visible it is that I can truly accomplish nothing without him. These days, I need His strength and His Word DAILY, and many times, even hourly.
Satan is good at sneaking selfish thoughts into my head: “Life could be so cushy, so easy, so comfortable if you just stopped doing _____, if you just gave up on _______, if you just allowed some time for yourself, if you just kept some money for _________."
We need to defeat those lies with the truth of the Bible. We don’t belong in this world and our goal isn’t to live as comfortably as we can here. We are called to service, for His Kingdom, for His Glory, for the eternity that awaits us in our true home!
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” - John 15:18-19
Jesus gave up everything for us.
He persevered under every trial because He knew what He would accomplish was far greater than the pain of what He had to suffer.
He promises the same for us today. No matter what we give up, sacrifice, or lose; no matter what pain, suffering or burden we take on, it cannot compare to the glory that awaits us when we see Jesus face to face. We actually don’t lose at all! I love this quote by Jim Elliot:
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot
(Jim Elliot was one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador. To watch his story check out End of the Spear)
In Jesus, no matter what happens, even in death, there is no loss, there is only gain. Gain here in this life, and also in the life to come. So press into him. He knows what it is like to suffer, to be tired, to be fighting; to be alone. He will lift you, strengthen you and provide you with everything you need to persevere.
I don’t know what battle you are fighting, what huge challenge you face, what mission He has called you to, but I do know that it is not too big for God. So don’t let yourself get caught up in discouragement and exhaustion today. Go to Him, pray that He gives you strength to trust His promises; that He gives you the eyes to see that we don’t persevere in vain.
And finally, take heart, you are not the only crazy person swimming up the river! There are countless numbers of us across the world fighting the same battle as you! Be encouraged and keep running!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. - Hebrews 12:1-3