Why do I get this so backwards all the time?
I walk through life seeking peace, happiness, calmness… perfection. Then I get all twisted up in self-righteousness and frustration when it gets hard, because “it’s not supposed to be this way.” Says who? The Bible straight up tells us that this life will not be easy. It tells us to expect the trials, the struggle, the mockery, and then get this… it tells us to rejoice about it.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…” Matthew 5:11-12
I don’t know about you, but I’m not very good at rejoicing in the struggle when I’m in the middle of an anxiety attack or feel like a lost and lonely soul with no community. Instead, it usually goes something like this:
God, You are so good and I will praise you no matter how hard it gets!
*it gets hard*
Oh Father, this is terrible! Why have you done this to me and why won’t you make it stop!?
I find myself in a place where I think I deserve a perfect life and it’s God’s fault for not giving it to me. Something gets twisted in my prideful, self-righteous mind that tells me everything should have gone my way and I should be perfectly happy and peaceful, and God took that away from me. Except that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
We are broken people who live in a broken world. It is cruel, unjust, depraved, and bent out of its intended shape. That means our time here is bound to reflect the brokenness. We’ve been given a canvas that is already ripped and spattered with dirt, blood, and tears. So why do we question when things get messy? It’s bound to happen. Jesus promised it would happen.
“Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” – John 16:22 (emphasis mine)
When I step down from my pride-pedestal and humbly lay it at the Father’s feet, I see a new perspective. I see that I never deserved any kind of peace or happiness, because from the moment I was born, I had a sinful nature. As soon as I could speak, I slandered the name of my God. As soon and I could walk, I learned to wander from His Presence. I’ve faltered and stumbled and rebelled so many times, I never deserved to have any of the good things Jesus promises me.
To combine my canvas of a broken and messy life with my track record of sin, I can clearly see that the only thing I deserve in this life is struggle, trial, and temptation. Half of it is the result of my own sin, and the other half is simply the effects of a broken world.
that’s not the end of the story.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (emphasis mine)
Now, I can receive the season of serenity as the most beautiful gift of grace. This grace that I could never deserve, given to me just when it feels like the trials will finally take me down. Jesus offers peace. He offers joy. He offers the victory that He has already won for us.
“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” – Psalm 139:5
Hallelujah! What a sweet Savior I follow.
He’s preparing the way before me, guarding my back behind me, and walking beside me with His hand of blessing on my head.
So how do we make the leap from seeing seasons of serenity as a gift to rejoicing when we’re back in the midst of the struggle? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. It’s probably more like a series of stumbled baby steps.
But the one thing I know is this: It will end.
This ripped and messy canvas we live in will be restored to its original glory – and then some! Jesus promised to return and redeem us. To defeat the darkness once and for all so that His children may never again be burdened by loneliness, depression, anxiety, poverty, or any other struggle of this world. This is the hope that can carry us through the struggles. This is the reason I can rejoice when life is messy (which let’s be honest, is most of the time). Because I know it WILL GET BETTER.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed… that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”
– Romans 8:18-20