Everything in life seems difficult. It’s hard to make a living. It’s hard to keep a marriage together. It’s hard to raise children (the right way). It’s hard to get along with people. It’s hard to watch our country being driven into third-world status (the war against free speech is what you usually see in banana republics). It’s hard to stomach the moral cesspool our culture has become (as when violence and mayhem committed by one group of people are called “peaceful protests” while the same thing committed by another group of people is called a “riot” and “insurrection”).
So we go to church seeking encouragement and strength in the midst of all of life’s difficulties. And what do we often find? A half-empty church where the apathy is palpable. Seemingly driven by an almost identical message coming from the pulpit that is being spouted by the mainstream media. God follows mankind’s lead concerning sexuality. Jesus is only one of many ways to heaven. God is on board with abortion. God is fine with hatred as long as it stays aimed at conservatives and evangelicals. The New Testament God loathes the Old Testament God. Truth is relative. Sin is subjective. The resurrection is a metaphor. The Apostle Paul was a masochist. Sodom and Gomorrah was about inhospitality. Gender is fluid. The end justifies the means.
When we do find a church that’s full, half the time the pastor is grinning from ear to ear telling the people that all God wants for them is to be happy with themselves and accommodating to others. No one seems to care that Jesus is on record saying that self-denial and personal sacrifice are required to be His disciples (Luke 9:23 and 14:27).
It’s hard when other Christians pick and choose which red letters in the Gospels are relevant when it comes to how they decide to treat you. They’ll adhere to what Jesus said about salvation (John 3:16) but dismiss what He said about doing to others what you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12). They’ll look at their own sins as missteps and foibles while looking at yours as outrageous and unforgivable.
It’s hard. It’s hard because there never seems to be any end in sight. Our government isn’t going to suddenly find Jesus, repent of its sins, and restore the biblical definition of marriage, end legalized abortion, wage war against pornography, end the debt cycle, protect our borders, end entitlements, or ever return to bipartisanship. And many church leaders aren’t going to restore the holiness of God to the same level as His love allowing their pastors to start preaching about the issues that are tearing this world and our nation apart or actually start telling people that Jesus is the only way to receive eternal life.
I want to quit. I’m tired of losing all the time. I want to go home where I belong (heaven).
But then I begrudgingly yield to what I know from the Word of God.
The faith that God gifted me to accept Christ as the propitiation for my sins (in the first place) remains within and is supposed to be utilized to walk daily in obedience to Him…no matter how hard, tiring, and unfair life seems to be.
Life was pretty hard for the first Christians wasn’t it? I mean, our Guy won. You are hard-pressed not to call what Jesus did absolute victory. When you walk out of a tomb days after having been murdered never to die again guaranteeing anyone who would believe in you would be “more than conquerors” like He was/is…that’s V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!
And yet…it didn’t prevent the whining, complaining, and backstabbing among “believers” did it? Four chapters into the book of Acts two of the Apostles are arrested and threatened. The very next chapter is all about a highfalutin wealthy couple who lie about their giving to the church. Six chapters into the book of Acts the apostles were being thrown under the bus for not taking their turns in the Jerusalem Food Pantry. By the time you get to Acts 12 James (head of the church in Jerusalem) is killed for his faith and Peter is put in prison for the third time. Keep reading in Acts and you’ll see that when Saul was converted becoming Paul the Apostle he was hated by the religious leadership he had abandoned and disdained by the church because of his former persecutions.
It didn’t get any better. Every time Paul would plant a successful church and left to plant another, some “believers” would come in behind him and try to unravel everything he did (read Galatians). And were the apostles who were empowered by the risen Christ with the ability to do great signs and wonders able to turn things around in their beloved nation? No, they weren’t. Rome finally had enough of the Jew's political and religious shenanigans and zeroed them. Razed their beloved temple to the ground.
And keep this in mind: none of the apostles died peacefully in their beds with their families gathered around.
Life is hard. Those who tell you otherwise are either lying, misinformed, or sheltered. What really makes it hard, though, are not the difficulties or trials themselves. It’s the wistful notion that they shouldn’t be happening to us at all. If I think I am entitled to prosperity, health, and success in everything I put my hand to…I am deceived.
In the world you will have tribulation…(John 16:33)
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34).
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you (1 Peter 4:12).
Everything about the way the world is and the way things are going in America makes me want to throw up my hands in disgust, withdraw, and wait like Jonah for the fireworks show to begin. I’m tired of there being one set of laws for the majority of Americans and another set of laws for politicians. I’m tired of seeing political and religious leaders thumb their noses at God and seemingly get away with it. I’m tired of seeing the nation the Founders envisioned be turned into a lawless moral cesspool barreling towards socialism. I’m tired of the hypocrisy that is no longer implicit in the shadows but on full and prominent display in every venue of life.
But guess what? I won’t quit. I won’t pack my bags and walk off into the dusk leaving faith and hope behind. Every day is a new day and with it comes hope. I will slog on through the muck and mire of apparent worldly indifference or defeat “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). I’ll remember my Lord who before He was received into heaven on a cloud was first lifted up on a cross. I’ll remember the apostles who although they healed diseases and even raised the dead, spent most of their post-Pentecost lives going from one hard situation to another eventually being put to a brutal death. I’ll remember that even though the strongest men and women of faith in the first century lived in or around Jerusalem, by 71 A.D. it was gone. I’ll remember that Hebrews 11 ends with a reminder that most of the heroes of the faith are unnamed and died painful and often lonesome deaths.
My job in life is not to defeat Goliath. It is not to be lauded as I stand upon the victor's dais. My job is to simply remain faithful. There’s not as much fanfare or notoriety in that but didn’t someone who knew Jesus say, “He must increase, but I must decrease”? (John 3:30) So, I will not quit. I will continue to fight the good fight of faith even if it looks like I'll never win or get ahead. I will "Trust and Obey" when I know beforehand that it will not win any friends or accolades. As the Bill of Rights is mangled little by little, I will sing "A Mighty Fortress" while the progressives laugh.
Our job is not to return America to her former glory. Our job until we meet our Creator face to face is this:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed...(2 Timothy 2:15)
...and having done all, to stand firm (Ephesians 6:13).