Coping with the tough times as a Christian
Regular columnist James Knight reflects on how tough life as a Christian can be.
Life is tough sometimes, really tough. We all go through times in life when we find it really hard to cope - when, actually, it's a struggle just to get through the day. I'm in one of those periods in my life, and I rather feel as though I am a ghost of my previous self at present. Right now, at this stage of my life, I feel I need God rather more than I've ever needed Him.
On Friday evening I felt led towards Ephesians 6, but it spoke to me in a way that I wasn't expecting. We all know about 'being strong in the Lord and in His mighty power', and about 'putting on the full armour of God', but it's the bit just after it that spoke to me most - the bit where we are told that we are to do this so that when the day of evil comes, we may be able to stand our ground, and after we have done everything, to stand.
The point about being able to stand seems to me to convey a hugely important part of the message from St Paul, but it could easily be missed alongside the more extrusive eye-catching verses that precede and follow it. The point is, St Paul seems NOT to be telling us that in this life, with the power of Christ, we will gallantly and comfortably be able to sweep away all that tries to batter us down. He is only going as far as to say that even with the power of Christ on our side we will only just about be able to withstand all that is thrown against us, to the point where we'll just about to be able to remain on our feet.
In other words, our Christian walk is not to come with the expectation that we will have it comfortably if we follow Christ, or that we can expect to always be confidently empowered enough to breeze through life unscathed - we are to expect the toughest resistance to all our attempts at good and positive things.
Therefore, it seems to me that the times when we are at our lowest are times when we are genuinely reminded just how hard it was always going to be for us to walk trouble-free with Him. Perhaps even that these tough times are the default experiences to contend with, and that the many experiences we have of hope, joy, exhilaration and positivity are (thank God), in actual fact, the times Christ is the one making our yoke easy and our burden light (Matthew 11:30).
Given that it's so often in the times when everything is going well and life is running smoothly that we tend to be the most lax about retaining a closeness to Him, it could well be that we are often too neglectful to His awesomeness in times when His awesomeness most abounds.
For if we are to take St Paul's words in Ephesians as an accurate commentary about how our best expectations ought to be merely to be able to stand at the end, it seems to say two big things: one, that our Christian journey is one of immense hardship to the end; and two, that any time life feels not that much like a hardship is perhaps a time when the blessings bestowed upon us are more rich and powerful that we can comprehend.
James Knight is a long term contributor to the Network Norwich & Norfolk website and a local government officer based in Norwich. He is also a writer for the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.
James blogs regularly at The Philosophical Muser
The views carried here are those of the author, not of Network Norwich and Norfolk, and are intended to stimulate constructive debate between website users.
We welcome your thoughts and comments, posted below, upon the ideas expressed here.
Click here to read our forum and comment posting guidelines
You can also contact the author direct at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you appreciate our service and stories?
The Network Norwich & Norfolk website has been published for over 13 years now and we have an established team of professional journalists covering the activities, organisations and churches which make up the county’s Christian community. Our whole purpose is to support that community by daily providing accurate, unbiased stories and features.
To pay for that service, we rely on our partner organisations, advertisers and readers to, in turn, support us financially. We want to keep the website free for everyone to access and continue to be able to pay for writers to produce the content you can enjoy every day.
We would like to ask you to consider supporting our work and suggest you might want to make a small regular donation of just £1 a week and become one of our 100 Friends, or a larger one-off or annual amount.
Because we are part of a registered charity we can reclaim Gift Aid on your donations if you are a tax-payer.