There is a tendency for Christians to speak in a tongue of our own making, a language more akin to bumper sticker theology than biblical orthodoxy. We can turn to pithy sayings and cliches which sound good on the surface, but on second glance are nothing but Christianese, a language only we understand and use.
“I’m too blessed to be stressed” or “I’m too blessed to be depressed!“
You’ve probably heard it. Heck, you may have said it, or something like it.
I mean, I know what they mean…or I think I do. They mean that if we keep our eyes on all Jesus has done, it should give us perspective in the midst of the stresses and trials of life. Trouble is, it comes off…hollow…and trite.
Or what about this one: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Good grief…my life is filled with things too big for me to handle!! I’m sure your’s is, too! The only way I get through is trusting that He can handle it, because I know full well I can’t!
Paul said we are pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not destroyed. In 2 Corinthians 1 he wrote “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen that on a bumper sticker lately. We endure through these things. It’s not all smiles, instagrammable moments and good times.
Life is hard.
It’s not simple.
Sometimes you have to struggle to believe because the valley is so deep you can’t see the sun. And when we as Christians fail to acknowledge the pain and the brokenness of life, we are setting ourselves and, more importantly, the people around us, up for failure.
When we believe this lie and it all falls apart, one of two things happens: either we crumble and walk away from what we believe is faith, or we put on a fake face and try to gut our way through it, never letting anyone see the hurt beneath it all.
What should happen is we feel safe enough to voice our doubts and hurts, and brothers and sisters come around us to acknowledge the hurt, encourage us, preach the Gospel to us anew. We need to remind one another the kingdom of God is breaking through even now, though we can’t always see and feel it. We must remind us of the “already and the not yet” of the kingdom, and to point each other to the love of God given to us in Jesus.
Don’t sugarcoat it. Don’t act like enough bible memory verses and church attendance is going to magically fix it. It won’t.
That’s what the Pharisees did: put a man-made band-aid on brokenness only God can heal.
It won’t happen with trite sayings and inspirational quotes, but with the truth that He will never leave us or forsake us, He goes with us into the trial, and He will be with us through it. It happens with community coming alongside and walking through the valley…together.
And the “through it” may take a long time.
Maybe all the days of your life.
But He is with you.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”John 16:33