Have you looked around at non-Christians and thought, “Why do they have it so easy?”
The life of a Christian is no picnic. The path is rocky and feels unsure. In fact, often you think there is no path whatsoever. Clouds, even darkness dims your view. It seems constantly uphill. You look ahead and see no one. You look back and see no one. Dark storms threaten.
So thinking about the Christian journey through life, I might think God would clear the way for me. Yet when I look at my seemingly constant struggles and I look at how easy others have it, it becomes a mental challenge to stay the course.
When I was young I didn’t think much of the verse, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2). I thought it might be good for the happy clappy set, but not for me. Well several decades later I can offer a different perspective.
We all know the Bible says the path to eternal death and hell is broad and straight.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.
I personally think it’s paved as well. The journey is an easy stroll. Psalm 73 by Asaph speaks to this very thing. He looked around and saw the prosperity and success of those not following God and became bitter. Then he goes to God’s sanctuary and comes to a new conclusion in verses 16–18.
So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
But what a difficult task it is!
Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
Truly, you put them on a slippery path
and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
I think there’s something more to it. My thoughts have grown out of a conversation with my mom who has terminal cancer. Understandably, she was discouraged one day and just wished her life was finished. My first statement was that if God wished her to pass on to the afterlife then she would be there now. Clearly He wants you here.
After a moment of thought I concluded there must be a reason for her to still be here. Now, my thoughts when left to wander and roam always go straight to heaven and eternity. So I think the things we learn here are things we need to know when we hit heaven. I think God has plans for us beyond our imagination and He needs us to have learned certain things to take on the responsibilities of His work.
What I said to Mom was that I think the Lord is taking these last days of her life to press out a couple bad spots out of her clay to ready her for eternity. And that is where you can find joy in the troubles that come our way. It is not lunacy. It is not a matter of enjoying the trouble. But rather, it is a focus on the eternal gains we build in overcoming these difficult life situations.
Going back to the rocky, shadowy, difficult path of a Christian. If God let us walk a straight, flat easy path then we would not be ready for our eternal responsibilities. We need to develop certain faith and trust muscles to be ready for eternity. You wouldn’t dream of running a marathon without training first. And not just a day of training, but day upon day, month upon month training. So God in His loving way sets us on a path that will build the strength we need for eternity. And everyone is on their own unique path because He is making each of us into a one-of-a-kind eternal creature.
With skinned and bloody knees, tired legs, not knowing what your next step looks like, and thoughts of discouragement, look ahead to your eternity. That is where there is overabundant joy. Set your thoughts on heaven. Count it joy that He is preparing you! Remember, what is ahead is far better than anything you can imagine.