I’m a sorry sufferer


strength (Photo credit: Candie_N (Welcome Fall))

Let’s face it, the reason most of us came to Christ was because our lives were so screwed up.  And that’s not a bad thing.  After all, lots of people came to Jesus because they had oppressive circumstances that only he could alleviate.  God has a habit of using our rough times to direct our attention his way.

However, continuing with that M.O. makes for a shallow Christianity.

Though I know better, I still hope for a premature happily ever after experience.  Maybe we love the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament) because those salvation stories seem to end at the same place in the fairy tale where the slipper fits and Cinderella ends up marrying the prince.  I think it’s Les and Leslie Parrot who write about how that fantasy doesn’t take into account the difficult road Cinderella will have learning how to be a princess, having servants instead of being one and, of course, being married to a guy she hardly knows.  We want to be saved and slide right into our hunky-dory Christian experience.

Cinderella jeans

Cinderella jeans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But that’s not the way Jesus describes Christianity.  And, after a closer look, you may realize that some of the stories in the Gospels are open-ended – we just assume a fantastic outcome.  For instance, we never read that the long time invalid whom Jesus healed by the pool in John 5 actually becomes a disciple of the Savior.  By standing up when instructed to, the man had shown at least a minuscule faith in Jesus in order to be healed. But after having been accepted into the Temple by the religious leaders later that day, he would have faced rejection again because of any association with the One who had healed him in the first place.

Being a Christian isn’t easy.  To think otherwise is to live outside of reality.

And so we do things like read Philippians 4:13 out of context and then cram that round peg into the square hole of our circumstances: “For I can to everything through Christ who give me strength. (NLT)”  What a set up for failure!  You won’t be successful at everything.  And that’s not what Paul is saying.

Paul is encouraging the Philippians because they have partnered with him financially, even though they had fiscal struggles of their own.  Paul wanted them to know that their sacrifices brought him joy not because he needed the cash, but because it showed that they were really getting the whole Christianity thing.  They were sharing in his sufferings.  In fact, Paul says he knows how to be content in every situations, whether having plenty or being in want.  So, the NIV says it better: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Paul preps this verse as the secret to being content in all situations.  Contentment comes through Jesus Christ, not through control of our circumstances. So I figured it’s time for me to give up control, again.

I’ve challenged myself to not worry about things of this life through the next month and watch how God blesses me and my family.  The Holy Spirit has been reminding me of this on a daily basis. Wanna join me?

Let your hope in him be your strength.


4 thoughts on “I’m a sorry sufferer

  1. This was great! A message the church needs to take seriously! As a teenage Christian I was taught a the message: just live a pure life, marry a Christian man, have a godly family, and be a “good” wife & mother. Supposedly if you could pull this off perfect enough every blessing would be yours. It almost cost my husband & I our faith when trial after trial came our way in spite of all our legalistic works! After multiple job upheavals, multiple deaths in my husbands immediate family & dealing with his schizophrenic mother. We were exhausted not to mention pariahs of our church!! After all where there are trials, there has to be some horrible secret sin your covering up according to this flawed teaching!! We thought at this point things couldn’t get much worse, but then in 2002 my husband was diagnosed with cancer followed four years later my my own heart attack & a stroke seven months later and we were still in our forties. At least by then we’d found a different church that didn’t teach the trials are always punishment for heinous sin nonsense. What my husband and I learned through all of this is that we have a Savior Who never lets go of your hand or your heart no matter how broken they feel!! My husband list his battle with cancer a few years ago but he finished the race loving Jesus with all his heart, mind, and soul!! I am still passionate about my relationship with Jesus as well and have come to know Him as the Husband to the widow that the Bible describes Him as being. This has been despite learning the harsh reality that widows rather than being cared for by the church as scripture teaches are shunned and sidelined. My church will no longer let me lead women’s Bible studies because I might make other women uncomfortable! In my view it seems like even churches that aren’t “prosperity” churches per say have still been poisoned by its success mentality, and those who have suffered aren’t the poster children for that so we are pushed away. It is sad too because we have so much to share that the church would benefit from if only there were ears to hear.

  2. I want to comment but i cannot find the words to say, I am also going through somethings in church,I don’t know what is going on in the churches today,

    • Churches certainly have problems at times, but my post was more about stuff that’s not necessarily that. I’m sorry to hear about your struggles. As Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell . . . keep going.” Keep the faith, Gwen.

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