My sister once told me she believed God appointed to me the hard things I’m walking through because he is using my life to encourage other people to trust and obey him.
I want that, but I also confess I don’t.
Part of me just wants a “normal” life with ease. No ongoing marital struggle. No conviction about things that the world around me, even my own family, think I’m being ridiculous about. But that part of me is a silent cancer in my soul and I choose to slay it with truth.
The truth is no one has a normal life. I get to hear lots of peoples’ stories as a nurse. When you start talking to people you find out the abnormal things that are in everyone’s lives. But the desire to have a normal life comes from something written in me, and in us all, that knows there is a normal. There is a life that is whole and right. There is a life that is good and desirable. There is a life full of pleasantness and pleasure. That life is Christ.
The idea that I should resist or flee the struggles I face to try and find a more “normal” life in another person, or a better income, or more convenience, or a better climate or withdrawing from people and getting back to nature, or whatever… that idea is a lie. It’s a trick. It’s a wild goose chase intended to keep you from facing reality. It’s a wasting of your life. The reality is we are all messed up people. We all have to face the wrongs we and others do and the damage it causes in our relationships and in the world.
Without knowing Christ, the abnormal lives we all live have to be explained and managed somehow. Enter religion, atheism, humanism, or any other ism people use to try and manage the mess we all are. But with Christ, we taste of the normal life we long for.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! – Psalm 34:8
The Bible talks about a new man, comparing Christ- the new man- with Adam, the first man, the man we all come from. Adam and everyone after him live abnormal lives with a longing for normal life. Christ came into the world to offer us his life. Real life. Christ’s life is given to those who believe him and love him. As a Christian, I have the very life of the new man, the normal man, living in me. And whereas before, the first man, the abnormal man, was striving to hold on to some semblance of normalcy, chasing it wherever he caught a glimpse of it, the new man I am knows I have it already. So I can go through the trials and sufferings I face in life with an open heart and hand. I can do like Jesus said and let my broken life be used to bring new life.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. -John 12:24-25.
That’s a very strange thing to say to us abnormal people, holding tight to our lives, trying to self-preserve and keep our lives as normal as possible. But to the Christian, it is the new way, the normal way to live.
Jesus is God in the flesh. The God Man humbled to dying human cells in an abnormal human family in a world full of the abnormal people damaging each other and the world around them. He came bringing new life. A life-giving life. A life united with the God who made us. And the way he did it was to die and over come death as the God-Man. Now his life is in us who believe in him. And his way is now our way. We can give our lives away because we know we already have life in Christ.
C.S. Lewis said “Nothing you have not given away will ever truly be yours.”
I don’t know what Lewis was eluding to. I haven’t read the entirety of Mere Christianity yet. But he points to the truth that when you have life in Christ, you can deny yourself, you can loose your life, because its yours! Jesus said:
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? -Luke 9:23-25
We all want normalcy. But we all have to deal with an abnormal life. We’ll do so one of two ways- futile attempts at self-preservation and chasing glimpses of ease, comfort and normality. Or Christ. The normal life I long for I’ve found in Christ. Now I can let my difficulties and abnormal realities be opportunities to give away the life that is mine forever.
I just want to say thank you so much for this post. As someone who has had an “abnormal” amount of suffering this was balm my weary soul today. I have seen God use my suffering mightily, in my life and in others, and while on one hand I am grateful for it, on the other there are other days, like today, that I just feel so weary of fighting the good fight of faith. Thank you so very much for your words of encouragement and the help they have been today.
I'm so glad this encouraged you! We need each other!