I’m going to let you in on a personal secret. This may come as a surprise to some of you, but it’s true: I don’t like it when life gets hard.
I want my walk with Jesus to be all pleasant, all the time. I would prefer minimal to no suffering, and would like most of my “down and dirty” ministry to take place in Starbucks. If I get a missionary call to the beaches of the Caribbean, I’ll be okay with that. Essentially, I would like my path to Heaven to be lined with Skittles. Actually I would prefer sausage, but that’s for a different post.
This “no pain, no pain” mentality has made the past couple weeks particularly challenging. My newborn daughter, Ella, decided that she would like to be awake from 7 PM to 1 AM. If we lay her down, she turns into the human siren. And she doesn’t stop for a long, long time. Let’s just say that I’ve watched a lot of ESPN Sportscenter recently.
In the midst of these nighttime escapades, I’ve really struggled with discontentment. I crave rest, peace, quiet, and a decent night’s sleep. I feel like I deserve these things, like it’s my God given right as a member of the United States of America. My troubles are so insignificant, but they cause me to be discontent nonetheless.
But last night I read the following, challenging words by the Puritan, Richard Baxter:
What keeps us under trouble is either we do not expect what God has promised [suffering], or we expect what he did not promise [an easy life]. We are grieved at crosses, losses, wrongs of our enemies, unkind dealings of our friends, sickness, or for contempt and scorn in the world. But who encouraged you to expect any better? (Voices From the Past, 138)
Jesus didn’t promise me ease and prosperity. He commanded me to take up my cross and promised that each day would have enough trouble of it’s own. Discontent begins to ferment in my heart when I expect something else.
The reward for following Jesus is infinitely great, but the cost is suffering. That’s what I should expect.
What encourages you in the midst of challenging circumstances?
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+photo by richardefreeman