The Christian life is often portrayed as “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” But sometimes that description just doesn’t match reality. Sometimes, life hurts. It isn’t that pastors and evangelists have purposely sought to deceive people by presenting Christianity in such a positive light. After all, it is the “Good News” that we proclaim. However, this rose-colored view of life with Jesus is not the full story. And sometimes, we don’t want to think about the darker side of life.
Jesus Himself warned us that hard times would come. In fact, He lays out the Gospel message like this, “If any man come after me, he must take up his cross daily and follow me.” That is not an invitation to “joy unspeakable.” If anything, Jesus presents His followers with a much more ominous outcome.
Jesus’ disciples spent three years with their Master learning the ways of God. Even with all the insights they gained, they undoubtedly failed to understand how Jesus would come to such a tragic end. Crucifixion was inconceivable. But after Jesus’ death, they finally understood. Sometimes, life can be very hard.
“Don’t be surprised by the fiery ordeal among you as if something strange is happening,” the Apostle Peter wrote (1 Pet. 4:12). James too warned us of the difficulties of life when he wrote, “Consider it all joy my brothers, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance…”
These scriptures do not contradict “the Good News” that we are to announce to the world. Rather, they provide a deeper revelation that walking with God is not a guarantee of “the Good Life.” God never promises our lives will be perfect. But He does promise we will never be alone.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death — I will fear no evil for You are with me.” (Ps. 23)
by Warren Keapproth, YWAM Madison Director. Photo by Max Langelott.
Finding Light in the Midst of Darkness
Are you in a season of darkness? Have you lost a loved one? Do you have health or financial issues? Whatever the reason you’re encountering a season of darkness, perhaps you will find this practice helpful. We call it Psalm writing because it reflects the flow of so many Psalms in the Bible. It’s a raw journaling process that looks something like this:
- Pour out your heart to God. Don’t hold back any feelings (anger, sadness, longing). Feel free to vent your difficulties to God.
- Reflect on who God is as it relates to your problems. Write about His character or ways.
- Remind yourself of the ways you have experienced God’s faithfulness in the past.
- Ask God if there is anything He wants to say to you. Write down the thoughts He brings to you.
- Respond: Pour out your heart to God for how you want to move forward with Him in view of who He is & His response to you. Are there actions steps? Or declarations of trust?