Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

July 07, 2004

Life is Hard

I think it was Elizabeth that said it best, in a response to one of my recent posts. She said, "Life is hard, isn't it?"

So obvious. So often forgotten.

For some reason probably closely associated with a latent masochism down deep in my soul I sometimes turn on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. All those people ever talk about is the blessing, and the anointing, and how God is just waiting to pour out bounty and favor and blessing and all you have to do is have faith!

Something's wrong with that picture. Something's terribly askew. Me, I read the Bible, and I get the impression, the very strong impression, endlessly reinforced, that life is hard. Period.

Not just before we're saved. Not hard times for the unbelievers, Easy Street for the children of God. No, hard times, period. Confusion. Sin. Doubt. Messing up. Getting lost. Failing. Being wrong again. Breaking things. Dreams not coming true. Oh my, it must be because I don't have enough faith, right?

No. Not right. Not right at all. It's just the way things are. Ever since the Fall. The way God said they would be. Broken.

Listen, faith is important. Faith is going to get you through all this. By faith you will emerge the victor. And let us not pretend that the Word does not hold out promises for believers. David said, "I would have lost hope if I did not believe I would see the mercy of God in the land of the living."

But let us not pretend, period. The Bible is a book of instruction for people in a hard place. It seems to me that this presumption lies behind every verse. The presumption that life is hard, that we don't get it right, and that there is an enemy who desires only to destroy us.

The way back to the Celestial City is through a valley of shadows. Sure, in the mercy of God there will be springs in that desert, but for now it's no less a desert. Thank you for the springs, Father. Without them I couldn't make it through. But look, people, it's still a desert. It's still the valley of the shadow of death.

I said yesterday I was a perpetual beginner. Often I want to go back to first things, to bedrock principles. I want to reconnect with the basic truths. Maybe that's what I'll be doing in the coming days, here at Mr. Standfast. Reconnecting. Bear with me, please. I'm trying to see in this fog. I've got the wipers on high but the windshield's still blurry. That's how I'm seeing things. I have the Word, I read it and am blessed by it every day. It's like one of those desert springs. And not the only one, either. I've got prayer, and loved ones, and the Spirit, praise God, and all the fruits of the Spirit here and now. Nevertheless, the valley of the shadow is the valley of the shadow. That's how I see things. That's how Paul--even Paul--saw things, I believe. So he just held on to basic truths and trusted in the Lord. Father, me too. Me too, I pray.


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