Life is hard.
Christianity is hard.
Life isn’t always black and white, and it isn’t always that Jesus makes your life perfect. I’ve always loved the song I asked the Lord that I Might Grow by John Newton. Newton knew the grace of God, and he also knew the difficulties associated with Christianity.
There are others, of course, that knew it well—significant players in redemptive history.
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me! (Psalm 40:13)
He felt the pain and the bitterness of life and sin. He knew the wickedness in his own heart. Who could forget his calls for help, and who could forget the heinous nature of his sin?
Dare I mention Job? Was Job’s testing because of his sin? Was it for his sanctification, or was it for purposes beyond our understanding?
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil (Job 1:1).
I’ve heard the things that happen to us are for our good and our sanctification. Why this may be very true, but does this mean that we must never lament the pain that comes along with it for us to be sanctified?
After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth (Job 3:1).
Job spends the rest of chapter 3 lamenting his life and wishing he had never been born, yet the Scripture says that Job never charged God with wrong, nor did he sin with his lips. But Job mourned, and Job cried, and Job hated his life. But no sin.
Jesus was the perfect lamb of God, and we know there was no sin in Him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).
How can we so easily forget the suffering servant and His call to the Father and His desire to be free of the burden He must bear for the sin of man? He indeed was acquainted with grief in ways we will never know.
The Apostle Paul
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
Paul’s despair was unto death, and I’ve never related to his experience here to the concept of suicide until a dear friend of mine preached a funeral of a soldier that took his own life.
Sometimes life can be so heavy, so overwhelming that we despair of life itself. I’m not suggesting Paul contemplated suicide, nor should this be a viable option. If you’ve had these thoughts, please seek help, but understand these thoughts are not a sin.
I suggest that they are real for people, and living as if your life is always “fabulous” is the sin. Why is it a sin because it’s a lie? No matter how you think of yourself or how holy or righteous you are, you sometimes suffer.
And it’s not wrong, nor is it sin to suffer, be angry, have emotions, or let those emotions out…. If you don’t let them out, you may corkscrew yourself into the ground. That might be where we need to define proper outlets for grief, despair, and dare I say “depression?”
Notice what Paul says just before verse 8.
These are my favorite verses in the Bible. Why? Because I’ve been there, and I’m still there more often than I want to let on.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
If you need help, please reach out. If I need help, I hope you’re available to help me. We need each other. Our Lord is gracious, and although He grows us in ways we don’t often or always, or rarely enjoy, He does grow us for our good and His glory.
The Christian life is not about being happy all the time. It is for our joy, but that’s another topic for another day. Today, I want to focus you and me on the reality that sometimes life is hard. And it’s okay to live in your emotions sometimes. I’m not condoning sin in those emotions, lest I be accused of it, but God gave us emotions, and to deny them, I would argue, is sinful.