Life sucks. But God rescues. So all I have is today. And all I have is You, God.

Monday, October 17, 2011

There are some hours...days... weeks... months... years... and perhaps even decades where one may feel that there is just not enough rope left to hang on.  Hanging on for wife or husband, for kids, for income, for house and home...pretty much anything... seems so challenging and completely overwhelming that if one more bad or sad thing happens, the rope will break, and you are gone.  I know I've had those hours, days, weeks, months, years.  I'm still observing whether or not the decade-long part applies yet.  

For most people who profess to follow Jesus, there's an insane amount of crap that just seems to happen to us.  Life happens to us.  And many times, life sucks.  It's a no-brainer.  And it's all too easy to succumb to the naivete of the "victorious Christian living" seminars, workshops, DVD's, MP3's, and churches where a concept of Christianity is preached and taught, which keeps telling us that everything is gonna be alright, and that we are gonna make it big, or hit it rich one day.  Much of it amounts to a self-esteem con.  We get pumped about who we are, who we're supposed to be, what we're supposed to be able to do.  And then it all flops.  We're in trouble.  We're in debt.  We're in the poor-house.  People hate us.  We get fired.  Our car breaks down.  Our kids rebel.  The deal doesn't go through.  Whatever.  You fill in the blank.  You know what I'm talking about.

So what do you do when life sucks?  What do you do when the victorious Christian living campaign falls through leaving you dumped on?  I've come to remember four simple truths that help me make it through the day. least...make it through most days.  I certainly don't "make" it through some days, and I think you know what I mean by that.  I'm alive, of course.  But making it to bed each and every night so that I feel just super-dooper, great and awesome about my day?  Well... that just doesn't happen all the time.  So here are four simple truths I've learned after forty years of living, and almost two-thirds of those years trying to follow Jesus.

1.  Life sucks.  Jesus taught us in Matthew 18:7, "What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable..."  In John 16:33, Jesus also taught, "...Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows..."  I have learned the simple truth that life is what it is.  Life is not always what you make of it.  It is often what the world wants to make of it, since Jesus says the world tempts you.  And it is also what others make of it, since the world is filled with fallen people bumping and crashing into each other causing conflict, chaos, and crisis.  So, while it is a truth as true as any other that "Life Sucks!!!"  it is also a truth as true as any other that Jesus has overcome the world.  The full context of John 16:33 actually reads this way: "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."  Peace while living on this planet does not come in this world or the people in it.  And that includes you.  Peace on this planet comes only in and through Jesus.  "That you have have peace in me."  Why?  Why is it only in Jesus?  Because Jesus is the only one who has "overcome the world."  You can't do it, because if you could, you'd have already done it.  Only Jesus can overcome the world.  And only Jesus has already overcome the world.  That was what the cross was all about.

2.  But God rescues.  Do you know why Mary and Joseph named their son, Jesus?  Well, of course it was because the angel told them to.  But do you know why the angel told Mary and Joseph to name their son, Jesus?  Because of what the name Jesus means.  In Matthew 1:21, we are told that the angel said, "And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."  Jesus' name means salvation from sin.  The Hebrew equivalent to Jesus is Joshua, or Yeshua, which essentially means salvation, rescue, and deliverance.  Jesus is our rescuer.  He is our deliverer.  His very name means that.  Names meant something back then.  And when people called you by your name, it implied something.  It said something about who you are, or at least what your parents dreamed you to become.  In this case, Jesus' heavenly Father dreamed something real and significant about Him that has come true.  Jesus is a rescuer, a savior, and a deliverer.  And the only people who need rescuing, saving, and delivering...last time I checked...are people in trouble!  The only people who need a Savior, are people who need saving.  And the only people who need rescuing, are people in trouble.  And the only people who need deliverance are people who are trapped.  In short, Jesus rescues only those who know life sucks, and feel the pressures of life upon them.

3.  All I have is today.  Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:25-34  "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?...These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs..So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."  I am not promised tomorrow.  I have no earthly idea what could happen tomorrow.  I am finite.  I live trapped in a fixed place in space and time. God does not, however.  He lives outside space and time.  This means He knows tomorrow.  And because He is God, nothing will happen tomorrow that is somehow outside of His plan.  So all I have is today.  All I have is right now.

4.  All I have is You, God.  If all I have is today...and all I have is right now, then all I have is God, right?  I mean, if He has tomorrow planned...and even today planned...then all I have, and all  I need is God.  When life sucks, you can say with the Psalmist, "Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, 'You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life'" (142:5).  He also said, "The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety" (18:2).  Then there's this statement, "You are my rock and my fortress. For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger" (31:3).  The Psalms go on and on like that.  No doubt, you remember one of the most famous Psalms, "The LORD is my shepherd.  I have all that I need."  Did you catch that last phrase?  "I have all that I need."  If you need anything at all, God already knows what you need, and HE is your greatest need. And if you have Him, then you also have promised all the other needs that you have (see also Rom. 8:32).

Life sucks.  But God is your rescuer.  All you have is today.  And all you need is God.  Pray that back to God today.  Each phrase is biblical...well, sort of.  No doubt, it's slang.  But, it's true.  It's a good modern rendering of the truths you just read in God's Word.  So pray them...out loud...back to God...and especially with each other.  These are truths which help strengthen, encourage, and build each other up.  These simple truths are what the simple kingdom is supposed to be all about.

About the Author: Rob is a church-planter and entrepreneur in Statesboro, GA. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 18 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.

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