There’s a prevailing belief among Christians that once a person accepts Jesus into their heart, their life will immediately become easier and they will experience fewer struggles. I have been a victim of this thinking before. When a new hardship invariably comes along (because this world has many troubles), we feel devastated. We erroneously believe we must have gotten something wrong and caused the difficulty. Often this leads us to double down on prayer and confess all sins, real or imagined, to God or another person, certain that there’s something we’ve done to cause this malady.
When we’re unable to find an explanation for the trial we face, we may seek guidance from others, who may tell us God is testing us. The story of Job, whom God allowed to lose nearly everything, is often cited as evidence. It appears to make sense, so we believe God wants to test our mettle and see if we have a strong faith. We may even quote the often-used phrase, “God won’t give me more than I can handle” and make it our mantra.
If we study the Bible thoroughly, though, we’ll find that neither of these lines of thinking is accurate.
In the ninth chapter of John, we find the disciples subscribing to the first belief that our sinful behavior causes hardships. They encounter a man who was born blind and ask Jesus which member of the family had sinned to cause the blindness. “‘Neither this man nhis parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:3 NIV).
God wants to display his power through the blind man’s weakness. He shows his ability to heal, to make whole, through a broken and seemingly hopeless circumstance. The man doesn’t have to work to earn God’s favor. He already has it. His blindness isn’t a punishment, but an opportunity to receive God’s love and grace.
Likewise, our own struggles and hardships are not necessarily because of something we’ve done. God loves us and has given us purpose. We know we are to love God and others, but only God knows exactly how we can do that best. He’s given us abilities and specific life circumstances that allow us to love uniquely. Our job is to find out what those are. For some, it may be through notes of encouragement and kind words. Others may display love through physical acts of service such as mowing lawns, doing yard work, or serving lunches. A parent with young children may serve by volunteering to watch others’ children so they can have a much-needed break.
Just because we find our calling doesn’t mean the path will be free of snares or tangles. Consider Mary and Joseph. God called Mary to be the mother of Jesus and Joseph to stand beside Mary, despite the scandal of having a pregnant fiancée. They chose obedience to God’s will for their lives and likely received ridicule and judgment from their friends and families.
Read the rest over at The Glorious Table.