“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” is the refrain of modern evangelism. Know someone who is unhappy or suffering? The answer to your problems is Christ, so the modern church says if you accept Christ all your troubles will go away. Not surprisingly, many get discouraged when they find this untrue, and turn away (those who weren’t truly called of God). So many times Christ is presented to the unsaved as a cure all. Scripture tells us that as believers, God does love us. For the unbeliever, the Bible is clear that God’s wrath abides upon them.
While it is true that if we are truly His, He provides us an escape from the punishment to come, by having taken the punishment of our sins upon Himself, can we say that all who know Jesus will have a “wonderful life”? What does the Bible have to say about this subject? Jesus told us to expect the world to hate us and persecute us, as it hated and persecuted Him (John 15:18-20). We can be assured that in this life troubles will come. Just because we bear the name of Christ does not mean we will never experience hardship, pain, sadness, etc. James 1:2-4 tells us “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
So, what does change when we are followers of Jesus Christ? Does God have a wonderful plan for the life of a believer? ABSOLUTELY!! But, let me explain. For starters, it is a matter of defining our terms. Recalling the story of Joseph in Genesis, he tells his brothers that what they did to him (sold him into slavery), they meant for evil; but God intended it for good (Joseph was used to deliver God’s people).
As we come to know God and His word more fully, we come to realize that our perception of things is not correct. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us not to lean on our own understanding. We cannot trust what our hearts might tell us is “good” or “wonderful”. How do we come to know the difference? Psalm 111:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” For starters, we learn more about God by reading His word. While we may never understand fully all that we are called to endure, we can trust that all we go through will be for His glory and our good. As we come to trust in Him, we find that even in the midst of suffering we have joy. Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is an emotion that is fleeting as it relies on having good feelings from events in our life. Joy, on the other hand, is something that is rooted in Christ. We have joy because we are saved from the wrath to come, not because things are going well today. Our joy is not based on what we have or what we are going through, BUT it is found in who God is, and He does not change. Our joy is rooted in the fact that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39), all the trials, sufferings and pain we have in this life are but a temporary light that is soon extinguished. Will you spend this time feeling sorry for yourself that your life doesn’t live up to your expectations of “wonderful” or will you cling to Jesus Christ and His word and allow these circumstances to mold you more into His image. Will you allow Him to give you true, lasting joy and stop seeking a temporary happiness?
What is really at the heart of the matter is what our understanding of “wonderful” is. As sinful humans we think the world revolves around us. We strive to make ourselves happy. We seek praise and attention. When we come to a correct understanding that we are not the center of the world; God is to be the center. Life is not all about us. It is the chief end of man to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. When we exalt ourselves to try to take His place, we can strive all we want for “happiness”, but will find it elusive and fleeting. It is God and God alone who deserves the praise. As long as our eyes our focused on ourselves and our problems instead of Christ, we cannot begin to understand that our lives are indeed wonderful!
If we are His and can grasp that this life is not about us, but about Him-serving Him, bringing glory to Him-we will know that God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives.