“Life ain’t always beautiful, sometimes it’s just plain hard. Life can knock you down, it can break your heart.” These are the words of country song artist Gary Allan. He released the album this song after his wife committed suicide, leaving him with six children. What is the Christian response to that? What can we do in the middle of such tragedy? But a larger question is “What we do when ‘life ain’t beautiful’?”
Were you sold on the narrative that everything in life is perfect when you become a Christian? If so, do you remember how you felt when you encountered the church “recruiter?” You know, the person who invited you to come to church. That person was not doing anything wrong. Part of the mission of the church is to win new people into the faith. The first message is “Come, you are welcome here.” The next message is “Christ loves you, died for you, and rose again so that you could be reconciled to Him.” Then, after that comes growth, or sanctification, if you like big words. To pretend that life after baptism is a life without issues and pain is to ignore the words of the Savior, Christ who said, "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
“In the world, you will have trouble.” Not you might or you could. Rather, you will. The Savior of all the world is telling you that in this world you will have trouble. This world is sinful. Why? Because of man’s sin. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, sin entered the world. And with sin, death. God provided for Adam and Eve’s physical needs, but He banished them from the Garden of Eden. “So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23-24).
Man chose sin, and God, because He is perfectly righteous, passed judgment. Many have debated the merit of this, but when you are a sinful creature debating right and wrong with the Author of truth, you lose ten times out of ten. Who are we to argue with God?
What is the Christian to do with suicide? What is the Christian to do with an unexpected cancer diagnosis at a young age? What is the Christian to do with a car accident that kills innocents? What is the Christian to do when all the world screams at him or her to reject faith?
Hold fast. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). There are many things in this world that do not have a simple answer. Most insist devout Christians are ignorant. The truth is, Christians have accepted the fact that this world is lost and sinful. That is the simple explanation. Because of man’s failure, we are a part of a lost and fallen world.
What separates the Christian from the rest of the world, is that our hope is not in this world. Our hope is in the next. Christians should absolutely try to make their surroundings reflect the teachings of Christ through outreach, engaging in the political process, and advocacy. But, if you talk to an experienced Christian, their eternal hope lies in life with Christ.
To the world, that makes me crazy, uneducated, and a Bible-thumper. To the Christian, it goes hand in hand with what Christ told His followers. I choose His words over the world. Suppose I live my life as a follower of Jesus, and die, and Christianity was not true. What have I lost? Suppose the non-believer lives their life that way and dies and Christianity is true. Eternal separation from God is what awaits. I prefer my choice.
When darkness invades your world, and believe me at one point or another, it will. What is your hope? Mine is in the One who says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Mine is in the One who says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Mine is in the One who says, “"I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:5).
You cannot be certain of when disaster will strike. You can be certain in the One you turn to.
This post originally appeared on One Million Dads, a resource with the missio nof waking up the fearsome wonder that is the mighty man of God and restoring him to his role as leader, teacher, counselor, and then thereby change the world we live in for the better.