"I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have." - Revelation 3:11
I am sure of three things:
1.) Jesus is coming back soon.
2.) The past year has been the hardest year of my life.
3.) Faith requires perseverance.
I love Jesus, but I hate storms. I have a feeling, though, that Jesus loves storms. It was during a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee that Jesus proved His sovereignty to His disciples. Coincidentally, it was during this past year, during some of the largest storms of my life, that He proved His sovereignty to me, as well.
I don’t feel like I’m overstating things to say that these past several months have been tough, really tough. Often, I struggled in my relationships with family and friends. After I graduated college in May, I found this to be a time of more difficult transition than I had been expecting—career decisions weren't clear, different jobs I was supposed to take fell through; in turn, I dealt with depression and anxiety, as I faced numerous other challenges. During all this turmoil, I could have turned to many things: alcohol, drugs, or other idols. By His grace, though, I didn't. Instead I turned to Jesus. Agonizingly, however, for the longest time, it seemed as though He wasn't listening or maybe didn't care (though I knew better). But, of course, He was and He does. Jesus himself said,
“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” - John 13:7
And He was right. Looking back now, I know what God was doing. He took away everything that could have taken His place. He removed all the idols. I reached a place of brokenness and despair where all that was left was God and His Word. In that place, Scripture became real to me. The Bible wasn't just ink on a page anymore; it came alive. Verses like 1 Peter 5:10 were real; they were a true experience I had with God and could now share with others.
"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." - 1 Peter 5:10
In the depths of my despair, God became closer than ever before. At my church, Summit Church, they always preach that “God is in control and Jesus is enough.” I know that now. God revealed that to me. He has full control, and no matter what happens, no matter how bad things become, He is still good, and Jesus is still enough. And the best part is that Jesus is coming back to save us. Actually, He has already saved us. He nailed Himself to a cross and gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we may live freely. He gave His life to reconcile the world back to Him, and now we can believe in Him and His goodness. This world is broken and it may cause us pain and suffering, but Christ gives us hope. As I talked about in my last post, an eternal weight of glory is coming soon, and these current afflictions are momentary. So whether it be Jesus returning to Earth to save His people or our own passing over to Paradise, hope lives.
And because hope lives, we persevere.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” - James 1:12
So long as we endure, we will receive crowns of life whenever Jesus returns or takes us home. He calls us to keep going, to fight the good fight, to finish the race, to keep the faith. And when we feel that we cannot go on, His Spirit enables us to do so. He freely gives us all that we need.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” - James 2:4
Now, I know that I am nowhere close to being fully mature and complete in my faith, but I know that because of the recent trials in my life, I am closer. God uses the storms in our lives to grow us, to shape us, and to make us more like His Son. Because of this, be encouraged when you suffer, because after you have done so, you’re more like Jesus. And that’s the goal. If we are more like Jesus, then this world is more like Heaven. And until the glorious conclusion of it all, God is glorified in this: that we become more like Jesus, this world becomes more like Heaven, and the result is more and more of the people He created giving Him the glory He deserves.
So to that end, we press on.
"The one who endures to the end will be saved." - Matthew 24:13
Thanks for reading.