Here in the Land of the Living
It's a common misconception that finding joy and peace in Jesus means finding a get-out-of-jail-free card from all struggles, trials, slumps, difficulties, pitfalls, and failures. Though some might use this tactic as evangelical bait, it's just not true, and in truth, it's more dangerous than it is helpful. The Christian walk is not a cake-walk. It's really, really hard. The more prepared people are for that difficulty, the stronger they'll be to withstand the battles ahead. Give them false promises of 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed prosperity, and they're more likely to quit when reality proves otherwise.
There's no question that choosing to follow Christ means difficulty. It means moving against the grain of an entire world, it means making sacrifices, struggling constantly against our sinful flesh as it wages war on our transformed minds. But just as we can't preach peace and joy without preaching the other half of the journey—the difficulty—we also can't preach the challenges without preaching the INCREDIBLE BLESSINGS.
That's what this post is about. Surprised? Not challenges, not difficulties.
Humans have a really hard time keeping things in perspective. When life is good, challenges seem small. But when life gets messy (which, let's face it, is often) our problems swell to fill our entire field of vision and block out all the good. Christians who are caught unprepared by the difficulty of the faith journey might think, "This is too hard. I thought it would be easier. I can't do this. I'm failing. I'm struggling. I'm miserable." And it makes sense that they might be miserable—that's what happens when you focus on all of SATAN's work in your life instead of GOD's.
Because temptations and trials and sins, the things we battle constantly, those are the work of Satan. He was doing the same things before we were Christians; it's only so difficult now because we're FIGHTING him instead of going along for the ride. If we only focus on the onslaught he's throwing our way, it's very easy to be discouraged. But that's why we can't only focus on that. That's why God gives us blessings in the here and now, tastes of heaven on earth, to give us strength to face those battles.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. ~Psalm 27:13-14
We already know that getting through this life with our faith intact means eternal life, joy, and ecstasy in heaven. But God doesn't just dangle the carrot of heaven in front of our noses and ask us to walk through a minefield, promising post-mortem rewards. He showers us with blessings in this life—today—in the LAND OF THE LIVING. That text you got from a friend that made you smile on a dark day, that feeling of inexplicable lightness when the sun shone on your face, that smile from a stranger, that roof over your head, that heartbeat in your chest that means you're still alive and fearfully, wonderfully made.
That is God's goodness. It's at work all around you, around us, slices of heaven reminding us to taste and see that God is good—yesterday, tomorrow, and TODAY. If we only see the struggles, the ammunition Satan throws our way, we will falter, we will despair. But if we open our eyes to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, we will find the strength and hope to press on, to fight, and to win!
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