Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

Five Reasons the Christian Life is Hard

Recently, I was reading an old blog post from when Roy and I were first married. In case you don't know, our first couple of years were HARD...and that might be the understatement of the year!

As if marriage isn't hard enough, remarriages are even harder. When you take two people who have baggage from previous relationships, the death of one's father, children who are grieving loss and trauma, and a house that is way too small to hold everyone, it is simply a recipe for disaster.

Now--just for good measure--take a severely disabled child who is reeling from overwhelming changes in her life and toss it into the mix.

Yep. That was our lives for the first two years.

In the midst of this new season of life as we were attempting to navigate the changes and the trauma, I wrote a very vulnerable blog post about the trials we were facing. I asked for prayer as we sought God's wisdom on our next steps.

And someone had the audacity to inform me that it was obvious we had not followed God's will in marrying one another.

You know those people. The ones who are WAY more spiritual than I am. The ones who understand God's ways MUCH better than I do. The ones who tout their credentials to prove they know FAR more than I do. The ones whose ways are higher than my ways and whose thoughts are higher than my thoughts.

Over the years as I've walked through many trials, I have come to understand just what a warped brand of Christianity many of us cling to. We may openly condemn a healthy, wealthy, wise brand of Christianity, but if we are truly honest with ourselves we will find areas where we actually believe the very belief system we condemn.

In this situation, the person who made this comment on my vulnerable blog post was convinced that if we had followed God's will for our lives, we wouldn't the difficulties we had at the beginning of our marriage. But where do we find this belief in scripture?

This morning as I read my daily Bible reading, I came across a scripture I've read many times--but today it was fresh and alive. Isn't that the beauty of the Word of God that is alive and powerful!

The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. Psalm 34:19

What?!?! Scripture doesn't say, "The one who misses God's will faces many troubles." It clearly says, "The righteous person faces many trials!" It doesn't say, "Roy and Dena got married against God's will and the first years will be incredibly hard." It says, "Even though Roy and Dena have hearts desiring to do God's will, they will face many trials in their lives and marriage."

And this area is but one where we so often buy into the healthy, wealthy, wise false narrative.

I'm sure you have heard it before, but God never promised us an easy life; He only promised to walk with us through the trials of this life. Even Psalm 34:19 says it clearly: the Lord comes to the rescue each time. His rescue may not look the way we expect it to look, but He always rescues us. In our situation, our rescue has been heart-breakingly difficult--especially for Roy. Although our home is filled with love and peace and security and a beautiful portrait of God's redemption, it has come with an incredibly high cost. The Lord rescued us, but it was in His way--not ours.

As I contemplated the truth of God's Word this morning, I was reminded of five reasons this life if filled with trials.

We live in a fallen world. It doesn't take any advanced degrees to see the sin in this world. Division. Hatred. Greed. Lust. It's all around us, reminders of our choice to walk away from the perfect plan God created for us. Because of sin, hardships entered this life. But again, He came to our rescue. He sent His perfect Son to walk this earth, to die on the cross, to rescue us from eternity in hell. It doesn't look the way we in our finite minds think it should, but it truly is a beautiful rescue.

Trials often bring us closer to God. I want to say trials always bring us closer to God, but the outcome of the trial is really dependent upon us. What do we want from these troubles? Do we desire to know God, to draw closer to Him? Are we willing to surrender our will to Him and ask Him to use this pain in our lives--whatever the cost?

When my marriage fell apart, I ran from God. I was so angry I didn't want anything to do with Him. Until I heard Him gently whisper, "Get your security from me." As I fell on the floor of my bathroom, I cried out a prayer of surrender--and my life has never been the same! My trials brought more intimacy with God than I ever dreamed possible. I saw Him use my trials to do a work in my life (James 1:2-4).

Honestly, I love when I see little correlations in scripture. Read the verse before Psalm 34:19. The Lord is close to the broken hearted. Before He ever tells us we will face many trials, he tells us He is close to those who are broken hearted. You can't separate these two verses.

Trials can give us purpose in our lives. God never wastes our pain. He tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that we are to use the comfort we receive in our trials to helps others. On that fateful day when I fell to my knees in the bathroom, I begged God not to let my pain be in vain! It has not been! Honestly, one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life is the joy I receive from helping others walking through the pain of this life. Whether it's a simple word of encouragement or an extended relationship that grows from our shared pain, using the trials of this life to help others has given me a purpose in this life like no others!

Again, it's a choice. Will we allow God to give us purpose through our trials?

Trials show us the condition of our hearts. Honesty. Jeremiah tells us the heart is deceitful above all else. I didn't believe it about my heart, but the trials of this life proved it true. Oh, how horrified I was to see the pride and deceit I had hidden so deeply! As I walked through the trials of life and surrendered my will to His, I began to see things through His eyes. I began to desire His way over mine. I began to see the hand of God providing for my every need, and I saw the true condition of my heart (Deuteronomy 8:2). It wasn't pretty, but it allowed me to become who God created me to be.

Trials show us the goodness of God. Have you ever had something happen in life and you could clearly see how God had been preparing you? About two weeks before my ex-husband died, I happened across Hosea 6:1-2He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds.In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Truthfully, I'm not sure I was convinced of God's goodness until I experienced His healing, His gentleness in the midst of the trials of this life. It was the way He tenderly cared for me as I walked through the darkest days of my life that showed me just how good He is. It was His relentless pursuit of me as I turned my back on Him that showed me the depth of His love for me. It was my own choices, my sin, that revealed how much I needed the gift of His forgiveness given to me on that cross all those years ago.

You see, without experiencing the pain of this life, I would never have the joy of experiencing His tender mercies in such a profound way. It may seem like an oxymoron, but it is the trials of this life that show us just how good He is.

Where are you today? Are you in the throes of the troubles of this life? Take heart! It won't last forever (1 Peter 5:10). And if you face these trials with the right mindset, you will find the blessings are far greater than any pain this life can throw at you!



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