Saturday, January 11, 2014

So……You Think You’re Special?

I often encounter faithful Christians who share their frustration about the temptations in their lives. Many faithful Christians also question why they struggle in life. There seems to be belief, unfounded in Sacred Tradition and the Holy Scriptures, in which faithful Christians shouldn’t be tempted nor suffer. This myth is perpetuated by “The Prosperity Gospel” which suggests that God desires for His followers to be comfortable and prosper in worldly fashion. Preachers such as Joel Osteen fill huge arenas filling people with hopes of future comforts and worldly success. Just believe God wants it for you, and you will achieve it….so they preach.  And when the believer doesn’t become rich or they suffer what they consider an “injustice” from God, the cause is their lack of faith and positive thinking. And all along, the preacher becomes wealthy in the process.

Some cannot deal with the pressure of suffering in a world they are told they should not be suffering. Many turn to drugs and alcohol for comfort, or a life of moral decay and financial collapse. When they hit rock bottom, if they survive the decline, the preachers are gone and offer nothing but, “You didn’t have enough faith.” They have nowhere to turn, so they think, and finally become angry with God for letting them down.

It is at that moment when I ask, “What makes you think you’re so special that you shouldn’t suffer?” This may sound tough, but it was self-oriented advice that brought them to this low place to begin with, and just as a drug addict must be shocked into sobriety, I have found (in my experience) that selfish addict requires the same shock treatment. “After all,” I say, “Jesus was tempted and suffered. Do you REALLY think you’re better than Him? Do you REALLY think YOU deserve not to suffer, but He did?”
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. (Matthew 4.1-2)Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands. (Matthew 26.67
Some will say to me, “Sure, but that was Jesus. He could handle it because He’s God.” Then I remind them Christians have been suffering all along.
Have you suffered so many things in vain -- if indeed it was in vain? (Galatians 3.4)For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men. (1 Thessalonians 2.14-15)
So Jesus Christ and His Church have suffered and were tempted to help us.
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2.18)
You may be in the midst of a great struggle, or you have just completed a great struggle and “licking your wounds” looking back and wondering why it all took place. You may be tempted to blame God for your struggle. You may be tempted to think you deserve better in life because you believe in Jesus Christ. You may believe Jesus let you down. Please keep this in mind… are TEMPTED to believe these things about God, because someone doesn’t want you to know the truth.

The truth is; you don’t deserve better, not because you’re bad, but because nobody deserves better.
The truth is; nobody deserves God’s love, but He loves you anyway.
The truth is; you will suffer, and God didn’t make you suffer, but He is holding your hand right now.
The truth is; God has NEVER left you.

We are all in the same boat. We “all fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3.23) but He loves us anyway. You’re not special, but you are one of us. Join us and we can struggle together.

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