We were expecting life to be pretty smooth.
High school graduation, maybe a college degree, maybe the family route instead, all falling into place in our twenties without that many bumps.
And when heartache started calling instead, when our plans for life folded like a cheap suit and God was nowhere to be seen, some of us just shrugged and walked away. “If God won’t be there for me, why should I be there for him?”
Maybe it wasn’t quite that total or explicit. We still love him…kinda. We believe…that he exists. We certainly get riled up on his behalf when some atheist starts talking.
But we’re not really on fire for him otherwise.
There are many results one gets from a spiritual autopsy, but one common one I’ve seen throughout the years when someone walks away is: we hadn’t set our minds to keep following God through suffering.
I remember realizing that the angsty turn-of-the-century Christian music we all grew up on (Newsboys, Pillar, Thousand Foot Krutch) was great at firing us up for rebellion against the world, but didn’t do much to prep us for suffering. When it came, we were thrown off balance. Our loved ones betrayed us, horrific things took place, things you thought only happen to others. Where was all that in the lyrics to “Fireproof”?
If nobody warned you as a youngster that the Christian life would bring suffering, then I’m indignant on your behalf. You deserved better than to be blindsided as you were. When the really unfair life events started rolling in – the ones that left you going, “How was I supposed to know how to deal with this?” – that omission hurt you.
But had we known it was coming…would we have set our faces to follow Him anyway?
Family slipped my grasp when I was seventeen – the togetherness, refuge, dreams, hopes. Just when things were getting better, it all turned against us in some nasty, debilitating ways.
I stuck with church thanks to divinely placed mentors. But later I realized that I’d really deferred my final verdict on God until I got family back. Some deep opinion on God was reserved until God made up for my past.
And when it finally occurred to me that this might never happen, it cast light on a part of me that was prepared to ditch God.
A mentor called me on it one day. “I feel that you’re just poised to go, ‘See? God is against me’ if you don’t get what you want.”
I resisted the idea at first because we all push back against such stark call-outs. But she was right. Part of me wanted to. A kind of passive-aggressive “I want an explanation for all this!”
By God’s grace, I can say that my mind is now made up. No matter what he does or doesn’t give me, I will remain his. “Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him. I will still defend my ways before Him.” (Job 15:13)
You might reply, Good grief, why? What has he done to earn that from you?
Well, I got tired of living with a pended “verdict” on God. It’s just better to live with one’s mind made up. A sort of settled firmness.
But most of all, he is worthy.
God doesn’t have to avert suffering to be worthy of our faith. His own Son didn’t get that. In truth, the Father has already given us far more than we ever dared desire: the Cross and Empty Tomb. And his ability to transform the very life events that have brought us so much pain.
It’s not too late for you. No matter how far away you’ve walked, resentment simmering, he will take back the humble heart. I believe wholeheartedly, with my own experience and the full faith and credit of God’s Word, that his love is still offered to you.
As long as you draw breath, you can still make up your mind.
Thanks for swinging by today. If you found this post to be of value, please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!