by Rev. Christopher Lewis,
Nothing is Impossible Ministries
When I was a kid, I co-wrote a song called “It Never Hurts to Smile.” The idea behind it was that we’ve always got something to smile about and a reason to be happy if we have Jesus in our lives. I’ve grown up enough through the years to realize that this isn’t necessarily true.
I also knew a man who wrote a song called “Smooth Sailing.” The idea of his song was that if you are a Christian, life will run smoothly because, as the lyrics said, you’ve “got it made.” The writer of that song soon went through some really tough situations, however, in which his whole life seemed to fall apart. I doubt if he would agree with the lyrics of his own song now.
Here are the facts: Sometimes it does hurt to smile, and sometimes the life of a follower of God is anything but smooth sailing.
But that’s all right. It doesn’t disprove the power of God or the promises of the Bible because God never promised an easy life for His followers. In fact, one thing I really like about Jesus is how real He is with us. One of His promises to His followers was, after all, “In this world you will have trouble (John 16:33b).”
You see, there have been Christians who have promised us that if we follow Jesus our lives will be easy and we’ll always be happy. Yet, their promises were not God’s promises. Jesus recognised that Christians would still have to struggle with sickness, death and loss. He knew that many of His followers would still battle with broken marriages and shattered friendships. He was under no illusions that Christ-followers would never battle with depression, hurt or pain. In fact, Jesus even said that many of His followers would be persecuted, ridiculed and even killed BECAUSE they were Christians!
So, the reader might wonder, why should anyone bother following Jesus if Christians aren’t promised an easier life?
The answer to that is that when Jesus promised that His followers would still have trouble in this world, He also finished the same promise with these words: “But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33c).”
You see, until we either die or Jesus returns, we all live in a broken and hurting world, but we also live as children of an other-worldly Kingdom. We belong to the one who has OVERCOME all these troubles, hurts and pains we may have to go through today. In the midst of our troubles, He is shaping us and preparing us for an eternity in a life in which there will be no more pain, death or loss but, until then, we are on a journey. On that journey, we have two choices: either we suffer alone, or we suffer with God’s arms around us and His promise to bring good out of all our worst situations and to carry us through to ultimate victory.
I’ve seen way too many Christians in this world who try to put on a fake smile because they are afraid to admit they are hurting. They’ve been deceived into thinking that if they are truly “spiritual” they will never suffer and always be happy. We need to dispel this myth once and for all. Followers of Christ need to have the freedom to admit before anyone else that they DO hurt and that life isn’t always easy. In the midst of their suffering, they have the potential to shine as a light amidst a broken world by demonstrating God’s love and peace amidst the hate and war of the world.
It’s okay to admit that it sometimes hurts to smile. Turn to God with your problems, and He will help you through. He can also give you an inner joy that gives you a sense of hope even in your unhappy times. There is, after all, a distinct difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is something that depends on outward circumstances and can go up and down from day to day. Joy, on the other hand, is an inner quality that only God can give you. It’s something that shines within you and reminds you of God’s Presence in the midst of your loneliness, His hope in the midst of your despair, and His victory in the midst of your sense of defeat.
Are you hurting? Turn to God. He will help you and give you strength to get through. But as you turn to Him, don’t be afraid to cry. Sometimes that’s exactly what we need to do so that He can have a chance to comfort us and help us to move forward with life. The Bible says, after all, that God cares about us so much that He even keeps track of our tears (Psalm 51:8) and He promises that one day, at the end of this drama we are currently living, “He will wipe away every tear” from our eyes and we will live with Him forever.
Sometimes it’s not smooth sailing. Sometimes it hurts so very much to smile! But don’t give up. In the depths of your sorrow, God is with you and He will lead you through. Just be real with Him and with one another, and together we will make it through the journey of life. We will laugh together in the good times and cry together when we hurt. Then, in the end, we will all rejoice together in our Father’s eternal Kingdom.