I’ve been around Christians a long time. I’ve been around long enough to know what dish goes the quickest at pot lucks (lasagna), what song we never tire of singing loudly (You Make Me Brave) and our most quoted Scripture (toss up: Jeremiah 29:11 and Phil. 4:13).
Not to brag, but I also know what people do in the last moments before the pastor arrives for dinner (hide the booze) and the factors determining the difference between a cute top and an how-dare-she top. (This is determined by a complicated and ever-changing formula that involves cleavage, weather, body shape, lighting, angles and the nursery schedule.) The point being, church people are my people; I know them well.
Here’s one of our favorite prayers: “Lord, I pray that things go smoothly”.
We pray this for our church services, our business meetings, our road trips, our interaction with co-workers and our scheduled confrontation with the gal who wore the how-dare-she top to church last Sunday (again, there’s a formula).
But I don’t understand this prayer.
Where does the Bible promise that everything will “go smoothly”?
If anything, the Bible promises just the opposite. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The examples of Biblical protagonists reiterate Jesus’ statement. Moses faced a tyrant, David lost to temptation, Paul battled an incurable ailment and Jesus was crucified. None of that sounds particularly smooth to me.
The simple fact about the life we live on this side of eternity is this: there are times when it is rough.
You get knocked down, you fight discouragement, your marriage struggles, you lose some battles, you get some terrible diagnoses, you fail some tests, you search for comfort — it’s not all smooth sailing.
But it is in these moments when the comfort and the peace and the strength of our God carries us. It’s in these moments when Christians are at our best. We rise from the proverbial ashes better than anyone. After taking life’s best shots, we come back stronger.
Crushing blows prove we can’t be crushed.
knock out punches show we won’t be knocked out.
back-breaking days demonstrate we won’t be broken.
There are few things I’ve learned more important than how to maneuver your way to the front of the line at a church dinner or how to avoid the disturbed long-hugger after service. But at the top of the list is the truth that Christians don’t give up. We don’t give up because there is hope within us. When life is tough, we are tougher still.
This is what I know.