“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
A few weeks ago, I was feeling pretty deeply discouraged. It was just one of those weeks. Nothing seemed to be going my way and even the things I rely on for consistency weren’t working out. My car wouldn’t start, my computer completely broke, I was tired and worn out, I felt stuck and suddenly my mind was spiraling to believe the worst case scenario would happen in every situation I had been praying about. I started to embrace doubt and believe those prayers would never be answered. Everything felt hopeless. I was overcome with thinking nothing would get better.
A few days later and my car was fixed, my computer was fixed, and I was sitting with the Lord wondering why I had let myself believe that a few unlucky circumstances would affect my entire life and well-being. I had spent the entire week feeling disappointed and discouraged and within a few days everything had changed.
Later, in a conversation I was a part of, someone said something along these same lines.
This person’s thinking reflected the same belief I had earlier that week: it won’t ever get better.
I started to ask the Lord about this, because I was really deeply unsettled in my spirit. What if it doesn’t ever get better?
I went home to Jackson rattling off all of my hurried, illogical thoughts, because the situation this person was facing was really hard. What was the promise of God in this? I couldn’t reconcile who God is to me, a good Father, a kind God, to this notion that things would never get better.
I kept asking where is the promise in God’s Word that it will get better? Where is it?
As I sat quietly with the Lord reflecting on this impossible situation someone was facing and the proclamation that was made that it won’t ever get better, I felt the Lord gently remind me who He was. What would He have to say about this?
When I started to think through the entire arc of scripture, I started to feel this deep conviction that it’s obvious that it will get better. Not only do I believe God has full authority over every seemingly impossible thing (you can read more about that here) but I also see this in the life and ministry of Jesus.
Jesus, as the manifest will of God (1 Timothy 3:16) shows us God’s mission for the world through His actions, words and ministry. He heals, He redeems, He restores, He reconciles sinners to a good and perfect God. He makes us a promise with His entire life and ministry: it will get better.
When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, He conquered sin, but He also conquered death. Included in that is every sickness, every disease, every evil thought we might battle in our minds, every burden.
When He rose again, He was declaring victory over everything including those things we might want to say “will never get better” from our limited, human perception.
I started to realize even with the small circumstances that had discouraged my spirit, I started to believe untrue things about God. Of course, in more serious circumstances this feels more intense and is really a deeper question of suffering and pain and evil in the world. I try to keep these emails under a 5 minute read, so I won’t get into that.
But I think the way we talk about God, the way we shape our view of Him, how we go to war in our daily little battles, shapes our minds and our attitudes into how we will view Him and go into battle with Him in the big things.
If we start to believe in a small situation that it won’t get better, then how are we going to handle the bigger, more serious ones?
I think there is a pervasive lie in Christian culture. I was believing it. I think we’ve embraced lives without hope, or lives with cautious hope. I think we’ve decided we should expect the worst-case scenario. We should expect that the worst possible outcome is the one we might get, and we should just accept that and brace ourselves for it because somehow that will make it easier if it happens.
Honestly, that just causes us to embrace an attitude of hopelessness and I don’t see that same attitude in God’s Word. Scripture does warn us that life as a Christian won’t always be peachy, and I’m not saying we should expect a life free from struggle or pain.
What I am saying is when we face the sorrow, struggle or pain, we have to face it with hope and confidence in who God is and as Christians we should face those things with more joy, hope and peace than anyone else. It should shock the people around us and give glory to God as a result.
That means facing struggles with hope that it will get better, often declaring it will get better before we see how or when, because hope isn’t circumstantial when it’s found in God.
When I look at the person of Jesus, I don’t see Him saying, “I’ll pray, but this demon might not come out.” Or, “This sounds tough, you might want to be prepared to learn patience from it because you’ll be sick forever.” Or, “Here’s the thing guys, only one kid brought his lunch today, so everyone will be really, really hungry, and I can’t provide for you.” Or, “Check out this storm! All hope is lost, we might all die.”
I’m being a little dramatic, I get that. But seriously, how many times have you heard Christains say things like this? In the moment when someone is facing a huge storm, are we the calming presence facing it with authority, or are we losing hope and declaring it might overcome us?
Disciples of Jesus are walking around daily, myself included, proclaiming things might not get better. Yikes. Who is ever going to want to be a part of the kingdom if our lives don’t look more hope-filled, joy-filled, or confident that God really is who He says He is?
I picked John 10:10 as the scripture because although I think the entire Bible shows us the goodness of God, this is an easy, quick scripture to memorize and declare over yourself and others. Jesus came to give you life to the full. Anything destructive isn’t Him. He’s wanting to rebuild, He’s wanting to reconcile, He’s hope-filled.
In his book God is Good, Bill Johnson talks about this verse and says this:
“It is dangerous to form a belief system around what we don’t see happening in our lives. That is an experience-based theology, not a Scripture-based theology. My dad didn’t get healed. He is in Heaven. Let’s be honest, this whole situation is a win-win for the believer. I just don’t want to be found expecting something (death, loss and destruction--John 10:10) that Jesus never once expected, taught, or modeled for us.”
When I had a couple of annoying things happen in my life, I started to let the enemy tell me nothing was going to get better. I was going to have to deal with the worst case-scenario, and I started to prepare myself by telling myself it wouldn’t get better. I would just deal with it. Life is just hard sometimes. The same line of thinking happens to a lot of us when we are facing really hard realities in the world, what if it never gets better?
Jesus didn’t ever prep people for the worst case-scenario. Jesus didn’t ever declare death, disappointment, discouragement, or hopelessness over people. He still doesn’t. So let’s not declare those things over ourselves, our circumstances, our communities, or our country. Let’s declare life and hope over it. Let’s pray expectantly, and watch as Jesus does what He does to reconcile, transform and let heaven invade earth.
-What is something in your life you have accepted as a hopeless situation? (It might be something personal, or it might be a larger, corporate circumstance in the community you’re in or in the church.)
-What does Jesus’ heart look like for that circumstance? Journal about how you see Jesus’ ministry, and how you think that reflects His heart for your circumstance.
-How can you remind yourself and others to declare life over difficulties you might face? What does taking action in this look like for you in daily life?
King Jesus, thank you so much for coming so that we can have life and have it to the full. Thank you for being a healer, a redeemer, a miracle-worker, and a good God. Help us to have your mind and your heart for situations we face this week. Let us be people who are expectant for the best that you have for us, for the redeemed life you have given us, and guard us from the lies of the enemy. Help us to always see the hope and peace you bring in all things. Amen.
For a link to God is Good and other books that have shaped my faith, click here.