Over these past two months, life has not been easy. I lost my job. I struggled to sell my house for several months. I drove to and from my fiance’s house multiple times a week, never feeling able to settle. My relationship with Pat has been the easiest part, praise God, but even that has presented a challenge as I feel the stress of wanting to be with him as his wife but not being able to yet. My life has been turned upside down.
In this time, my hopes were raised and then dashed several times. I had multiple offers on my house that fell apart. I thought I had another job offer and then it collapsed. In many ways, it reminded me of my years of dating – each time that another date did not work out, I would despair that it would always be that way, that I would never meet the right person.
My faith in God and Jesus has not been shaken. But what I have wondered is whether God truly has good gifts for us – insofar as gifts that *we* think are good. I trust that God loves me and has a plan – but that plan might not include a husband. That plan might not include a job that I love as much. That plan might not include children, or a nice house, or a comfortable life.
As this blog is about encouragement, I would like to now tell you that all of the above is only Satan’s lies and that of course God intends for us to have all of that and more. But that’s not true.
Looking in the Bible, what we see instead is that often God does indeed call us to the more difficult life. Jesus did not rise to political power, gain a palace, and live comfortably ever after. He died on a cross. His followers were persecuted and imprisoned. They accomplished God’s greater plan, but they were not living what we in the Western world would say is “the good life.”
So what does this mean? Does it mean that if we are followers of Jesus we have to resign ourselves to hardship, loss, and disgrace?
Of course not! What God promises us is that if we believe in Him, we will receive salvation and a part in His greater glory. This is of greater value than present difficulties, even if we cannot see it. Further, my strong belief is that living by God’s precepts – love, mercy, and justice – we will have far better lives here on earth than if we lived in the emptiness that is life without God.
But truly we are not promised anything. I see this in my Christian friends who ardently love Jesus, and yet still are waiting on their husbands or babies, or who have large difficulties in their marriages, who experience untimely loss and financial downturn.
Rather than make me bitter, it makes me appreciate what I have all the more. A husband was not promised to me, and yet I have an amazing, faithful, loving fiance. A nice house is not promised, but for the moment I have shelter over my head. Maybe Pat and I will not be able to have children – but God has already given me so many blessings. I have learned to hold my expectations with open hands. Today I have what I need, but tomorrow I may not. Even still, God is my constant, my rock.
The key is to wait expectantly and hopefully for the gifts that await us in this life – a husband, children, a family, material goods, financial security – but to safeguard our faith separate from these things. God is first and only. He has already given us the ultimate gift; anything that we have in addition is out of the great abundance of his outpoured love, to be cherished and appreciated.
Photo credit to Death to the Stock Photo.