Everyone loves to laugh at a sitcom, a created world where any tensions that arise are guaranteed to wrap up neatly and happily (in 30 minutes or less). Of course, real life doesn’t often provide those happy endings, at least not in ways we can recognize. Sometimes accepting Christ is presented as an assured path to a pain-free, privileged life, but Craig Groeschel encourages us to look more closely at what God promises His followers.
“We have a Western or American view of God, as though God owes us if we’re doing the right things. I don’t think that’s a global view because there are other parts of the world where to be a follower of Jesus, it’s known upfront you’re probably going to suffer, to be persecuted. We see that teaching in scripture, but I think we often don’t believe it.
The hope we have in Jesus is not a promise to avoid pain and hardship, but rather that God Himself meets us in our pain and empowers us to overcome our suffering.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Trusting God in the midst of our darkest days isn’t easy. As Craig’s daughter Mandy battles chronic illness, his family continues to walk a difficult road. They pray together for healing that hasn’t yet come. They have learned from the example of one of God’s prophets, Habakkuk who struggles with tough questions and doesn’t find ready answers.
“Habakkuk’s name really illustrates what he did. His name means to both wrestle and to embrace. I’m hoping it gives people permission to both wrestle with God, to question Him, to ask why. But at the same time, embrace Him and say: I may not understand. I may not like this. I may be hurt right now, disappointed, angry, whatever…but rather than walking away and quitting, I’m going to continue to embrace Him.”
If there’s a circumstance in your life today that feels unresolved, Craig invites you to trust in God’s goodness and draw closer to Him as you walk through it.
“God may bring resolution, or He may not. The beauty of Habakkuk is actually that God never brings the resolution he wants, but by the third chapter he is embracing God, not for what God did or didn’t do, but simply for who God is.”
“That’s where our family is with Mandy right now: we’re disappointed, we want more, we’re believing and praying for something different. We still have faith, but her condition hasn’t changed, and ultimately, if it doesn’t ever change, we’re still going to seek to cling to Him and call Him good.”
Let’s take this opportunity to trust God with our unresolved questions, longings, and hurt; may what we face today remind us of the living hope (1 Peter 1:3-9) we have in Jesus that can never perish, spoil, or fade.
Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of Life.Church. He speaks frequently at conferences worldwide, hosts the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast, and is a New York Times best-selling author. His latest book is Hope in the Dark: Believing God Is Good When Life Is Not.