Rough times? Cling to Jesus!

Why do bad things happen to good people? That question is as old as recorded human history.

For Christians, there is not a single verse in the entire Bible that promises that life will be all sweetness and light for people of faith. Nevertheless, since God is “in charge,” our tendency is to blame God, or at least question him, when bad things happen to us.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah (20:7) lays into God because “he has become a laughingstock all day long, everyone mocks me.” Jeremiah has done what he believed God called him to do, and that was to point out the wrong behavior and priorities of the leaders of the day. Shouldn’t he get some relief or benefit out of being faithful to his calling? So, what is the point of believing in something that does not make my life better in some way? Why believe?

C.S. Lewis made the point in “Mere Christianity,” when he said that it makes no difference if the Gospel makes you feel better, or gives you a purpose in life, or provides a sense of hope and comfort for you. All that matters is whether or not it is true. If it is true, then questions about how it makes us feel, or if it makes sense to us, are irrelevant. If it is true, then we had better do our best to live by that truth.

Of course, if we do, the Bible warns us that there will be a price to pay, as Jeremiah and many others discovered to their dismay. When we think about it, every Christian martyr who has ever suffered and died did so due to speaking the truth the world does not want to hear. Jesus, the most loving person who ever lived, suffered and died for speaking God’s truth.

Certainly, we are fortunate to live in a time and place when Christians do not risk their lives professing their faith. Baptism into the Church is not a death sentence as it has been at some times in some places. But we are still very aware that we cannot expect that life as a disciple of Jesus will lead us to a life without problems.

For those of us who would follow Jesus, perhaps the question is not, “why do things go wrong for me in my relationship with God?” The real question might be, “why are things going so well? Why aren’t I having more problems because of my relationship with Jesus? Why don’t people laugh at me like they did at Jeremiah?”

In “The Dream of God: A Call to Return,” Verna Dozier said not to talk about what you believe, but rather what difference it makes that you believe. That is where the proverbial rubber hits the road. When our faith leads us to say and do things that are not popular, opposition will come.

When we fearlessly point out that which we believe to be wrong, or unfair, or in any way against the Gospel, we will pay a price as all people of faith have throughout the centuries. If we choose the much safer route of silence, the price we pay is that we are not living lives based on truth, and we know it.

The anchor has long been a symbol in Christian art for the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Our anchor is set in the stability of its truth, no matter how scary and unpredictable and painful the storms we face will be.

Jesus’ truth is our anchor as well. Things will probably get pretty rough at times, but we go to sleep at night knowing that we have lived the day with truth, integrity and courage, whatever the cost. If things are rough, consider partnering with Jesus, let Jesus show you what it means to partner with Him. Your rough times will change if you learn how to successfully partner with Jesus!

Author Rt. Rev. David C. Bane Jr.