Often, I’ll look around me and see those people that just seem to have everything so together.
Whether online or face to face, there are always those people that simply seem to have life down. They’re walking around, living life, and gently saying things like, “Oh yes, I trust God,” and “Of course I can feel how much God loves me,” and “I am so content, no matter what.”
And seeing those people like that…it’s so inspiring, yet oftentimes so intimidating.
Because it’s easy for us to say, or at least for me to say, “I trust You, God,” when life is simple.
It’s easy to say, “God, you are always good,” when life seems to be going well.
It’s easy to say, “I have complete and total faith,” when life is smooth and straightforward.
It’s easy to say, “I am content in all circumstances,” when the circumstances are simply sparkling and comfortable.
It’s easy to say, “I know Your love, Lord, and I can feel it all around me,” when we’re experiencing that beautiful, tangible love.
It’s easy to say, “I am at peace,” when our lives are calm, and we’re gently breezing by.
And we can so many times see people around us saying these things, and on the surface, it seems like their lives must be so ridiculously easy. And it then follows for us to say, “They can be content because their life is easy; mine is so complicated, therefore, I must not be able to experience that.”
And when it’s all written out like that, direct and right in front of our faces on a screen or on paper, maybe it seems a little silly. But honestly, we whisper these lies to ourselves because we may not have ever experienced anything better.
I refuse to believe that those times, those amazing, smooth, easy times in our lives are the only times where we can have real, authentic peace, and hope, and joy, and contentment, and assurance, and have the presence of God.
I refuse to believe that contentment is conditional – that grace only applies when we’re mostly good – that hope only exists when we can visibly see it.
This verse is terrifyingly beautiful here, where Paul refers to his suffering in Asia – take a look.
2 Corinthians 1:9-10
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”
In the most impossible of situations, we can yet have hope. We can yet let our faith be strong.
Because the thing about faith is that it isn’t always a tangible experience. The good things in our lives? They’ll come and go. Items, and even other humans are temporary and ultimately uncontrollable.
And if joy was contingent upon something fleeting, where would its beauty be?
No, I believe that God has so much more for us than the shallow happiness we settle for instead of joy. That hope – the hope we find in Christ alone – is greater than any fear we could ever face. That contentment has much more to do with finding strength in Christ than it does with circumstances.
There is no secret formula for understanding how to find strength in Christ. It’s not about the commandments you keep or how long you pray or how much Christian music you listen to.
I find it to be this process – of learning to live my life to honor the One who gave it to me in the first place – of believing that when He leads me, He will provide for me and that all I must do is trust that He has a purpose, even when I can’t see it.
It’s a journey of examining why we let ourselves become so disheartened by the very things Christ cleansed us from on the cross and finding that soft-burning spark again that reminds us why we have such beautiful freedom in the first place.
It’s about stepping out fearlessly, because what is there to fear when our Creator is on our side?
It’s about complete and total reliance upon the One who holds the world together, and yet cares about our small, fragile lives.
It’s about learning to rest in the love of the One who gave His life for ours; even when we can’t “feel” the squishy-love feelings, we can know for a fact that His love for us is unending. Unconditional. Completely free.
It’s about accepting grace. Even when we don’t feel anywhere near worthy of it.
Grace is a gift. Love is a gift. Joy is a gift. Strength is a gift. And all we must do to attain them is hold out our hands and receive them.
So, today? Choose not to settle for God’s promises only when life is easy, painless, and comfortable, but when things are challenging, when life hurts, when we’re in the middle of growing.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Remember that this life we live is not one we experience alone. It’s not meant to be lived by our own strength, our own might or will or effort – but of Christ’s work inside us. Of His strength working through us.
For God is good, He is loving, He is all-powerful, and always gracious – even when life is not.
And that inspires such beautiful, steadfast hope.