“Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” – Luke 9:23
Living the life of a committed Christian is in a word, challenging. The task of living a fully God-centered life is no walk in the park. A quick read of the Bible and the lives of the early saints will prove that. The lives of Christians since then will attest to that fact as well. The Christian life involves struggle, grief, disappointment, hurt, and tears.
Then you add this whole pain thing and the Christian life is some pretty tough sledding. Most of us have probably at one time or another had this mental conversation with God. The conversation starts with a statement of the problem:“Lord, I could really use less pain in my life. Could you please ease up a little in the pain and hardship department?”
We let that sink in and then continue: “Lord, I know you never promised to make my life easy. I remember you saying in Luke 9:23 that I had to take up my cross and follow you. I understand that following you isn’t a walk in the park, but I really don’t understand why you can’t give me a break when it comes to the whole pain and hardship thing. You could snap your fingers and no more pain. You could intervene and my struggles would be over, yet You choose to allow my pain and struggles to continue. You could make my life pain free, consisting of soft pillows, warm blankets, marshmallows and rainbows.”
But in a moment of reflection the conversation shifts: “But Lord, I also know I do not want to turn you into a vending machine. I can’t assume that I can insert a prayer into the slot and You relieve my problems. If life were like that I wouldn’t search for You or seek You. I need to be serving You rather than convincing You to serve me.”
Then you look at the ESV Study Bible app on your iPhone: “Lord, I remember discussing Job in our small group. I admired Job for sticking with You even though everything he had was taken away from him. He wasn’t even given a good explanation as to why. I remember that Moses was once offered the chance to go into the promised land, but You said You were not going with him (Exodus 33:3). Moses responded by saying that if God wasn’t going to personally lead them, then Moses wasn’t going either. (Exodus 33:15). I find it amazing that Moses would rather stay in the desert with You, than go to a better place without You. He decided that knowing You was more important than an easy life, Lord.”
“Lord, I still don’t understand why I have this pain in my life, but maybe I don’t need answers or explanations. I want to trust and follow you as Moses did. I know you are more interested in making me like Christ than you are in making me comfortable. I want to be more interested in a growing relationship with you then having an easy life. I don’t know why I struggle but I know who I want to struggle with.”
- Do you think it is hard to be a committed Christian? Why or why not?
- What does the Christian life teach you about processing painful experiences?