So you think being a Christian means you'll have a trouble-free life?
Not so much.
The Bible promises, "Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12).
And Jesus says, "In the world you face persecution." He goes on to say, "But take courage; I have conquered the world" (John 16:33).
Persecution isn't just exercised by oppressive governments slapping believers into jail cells.
Persecution also comes from people who mock faith or question the intelligence of those who trust in the risen Christ.
Persecution is exerted by the guardians of political correctness, by scoffing family members who tell you that you need to "loosen up," and by the whispers of Satan trying to convince you that you're a chump for following a God you can't see rather than things you can see.
Persecution comes in many forms and it is guaranteed to be part of the Christian life.
I have to ask myself: If I'm not catching flak for my faith in Christ, how faithful am I really being?
If I'm "following Christ" only because I think it will give me a trouble-free life, I've got another think coming!
But I also know that even in the midst of troubles, the risen Christ is with me, using the negative circumstances of my life to rebuild me and to gradually transform me into the person God can use for the best of purposes--God's purposes. God is fitting me not just for this life, but for eternal life.
The motivational speakers focus on being successful and happy today. God is interested in how we live--and that we live--over the long haul of eternity.
Jesus doesn't want to be a lucky charm who prevents us from experiencing unpleasantness. He wants to be our God and King and Savior.
When we Christians say in the Apostles' Creed that we "believe in Jesus Christ, [God's] only Son our Lord," we're espousing trust in the God of the long haul, Who gives something more valuable and enduring than an easy life this side of the grave.
I like Paul's words, which I almost always read at gravesite committals of the bodies of believers who have died: "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied" (1 Corinthians 15:19).
When I get bogged down in discouragement, frustration, or self-pity over those who scorn the Bible or my faith in Christ, I have to remind myself, "Don't look for an easy life, Mark. Look for Christ and His help in living a faithful life, no matter what."
It's a helpful reminder for me. I thought it might help you too.