Some days I can’t imagine why God would want me to be struggling so much. Why can’t I land that job, or have the perfect relationship, or get a winning season out of the Pittsburgh Pirates?
The truth is, God sometimes allows disappointment. And a lot of those disappointments happen when we go from dreaming about things to actually taking action. It’s in that moment we’re confronted with a choice – do we give up or press on? Do we trust what God has promised us? Or do we give up and walk away?
If God always made everything work out perfectly, we would never have a reason to choose him. We’d simply be choosing the path of least resistance. And while that may be fine for running water, it makes for lousy humans.
This is one of the crazy things about God – he doesn’t always play by our rules. Just like God’s primary goal isn’t our happiness, his primary goal isn’t how easy our lives are. There’s a reason Paul describes spiritual growth in terms of training saying, “train yourselves in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8)
Being disappointed isn’t a punishment. Or at least it doesn’t have to be. Instead it can be the opportunity to change our perspective. It can allow us to flip our understanding of success. Fighting our way through a challenge, relying on God’s strength when we’re exhausted, trusting that God will deliver on his promises – all those things help move us closer to God. Which is always a good thing.
Life can feel so hard.
Some days the weight of it seems to be crushing. It’s in those moments where all the advice you’ve ever received just doesn’t seem like enough. Things like “trust God” or “God loves you” feel so empty, so meaningless.
Of course it’s not.
Those things are entirely true. But simply saying that doesn’t really solve anything. We need to have some way to put it all into practice. It’s almost as if we need to experience it before we can live it.
Have you ever met someone who just seemed to “shine” with an intense glow, as if there was something special radiating from them? While it’s unlikely they just ate a lamp, what is happening is their faith makes them look different. These are the people who are living out their trust in God. They know that God loves them, no matter what the situation.
Sometimes I think we expect things to come too easily. That believing in God is a magic pill that makes our life easy. When we see these “glowing” people we think their lives must be fine. That they aren’t experiencing problems, because if they had our problems, they wouldn’t be so intensely different.
But nothing is that easy. They have problems just like you and I. But they know something important: faith takes work.
Paul tells us that we should “Train [ourselves] in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8)
Living out a life of faith doesn’t happen by accident. And it doesn’t happen over night. It takes (literally) practice. We have to make choices that bring us closer to God. And the more we do this, the more “radiant” we become.
If this seems like an impossible task just remember…even Jesus “grew in wisdom.” (Luke 2: 52)