Five Truths to Living the Abundant Life
Most people want their lives to have meaning and purpose. We like to feel useful and needed. A good life can be the culmination of productive work, good health, and financial stability. Even with all that, life can be challenging and difficult to navigate at times. Our struggle is in trying to reconcile life’s unfairness with the goodness of God.
1. God is good all the time.
Navigating life after a trauma or crisis is difficult. Things can be going along well, then something happens. In an instant, everything changes. Life will never be the same again. We say to others that we never thought this would happen to us. Our doubts and fears begin to set in.
What do you do after your world gets rocked? The one thing people need in times like this is support. Chaplains often help people during a crisis or trauma. One way they help is by being present with them. Presence with people is powerful. They listen and they pray. There are psychological changes that occur when people talk about their pain. Therefore, listening is a powerful intervention when helping a person to cope.
Sickness and death can be a traumatic event. It also will affect one’s spiritual life. After such an event, people are alienated from God or become closer. For example, I had a dear lady who was on hospice at the time, tell me that she had been faithful to God all her life. As a result of her faithfulness, she felt God had rewarded her with a good life. She was about 80 plus years old. Her struggle was trying to reconcile the goodness of God with her suffering. It broke my heart. There was nothing I could do or say to help her. She had to talk to God and reconcile her feelings. I feel confident this beautiful devoted Christian woman made peace with God before the end came.
Many things happen that are out of our control. Reconciling the goodness of God and suffering is hard for everyone. Righteous people suffer the same as the ungodly. A Godly lifestyle will not shelter people from pain or misfortune. However, God is good and he will provide the strength to endure.
Our righteousness does not compare to a Holy God. In the Bible Isaiah tells the people of Israel that their righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). For further study go to Got Questions.org.
2. Suffering is part of life.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Being able to reconcile suffering in the world is difficult for most. We all want to live the good life. Christians will tell you they have the answer. Yet, they struggle too. Look at the apostle Paul. He suffered beatings, shipwrecks, imprisonment, hunger, and he was in constant danger of his life.
When I was in my dark season, I did not want to hear about how God was going to fix my problem. The pain consumed me. A biblical example of a dark season is Job. He was a righteous man. God allowed Satan to bring disaster into his life as a test of obedience. Job never wavered in his faith. In fact, Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. Job’s reply was, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God and not trouble” (Job 2:10).
3. We can have a victorious life through Christ.
Trauma will affect our mental health. How we see and experience life is different when we are going through a trial. When we are not well emotionally, spiritually, or physically, it affects how we think. In turn, how we think affects how we act. That includes our relationship with God and others. Christians learn to be at peace when they place their trust in God. Trust is key to stability and overall mental health.
The plan of salvation promises a victorious life through Christ. However, it is not as automatic as preachers say. The struggles in life whether emotional, spiritual, or physical are challenging. It takes awhile to get to a place where we can respond like Jesus. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Jesus promises us abundant life. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” One thing is for certain, Satan intends on taking away our peace and our hope. It then becomes a battle between believing the truth (God), or believing the liar (Satan).
4. God’s grace is sufficient.
To me, enjoying the abundant life means being able to live within the boundaries of God’s abiding grace and presence. His grace provides the power to overcome trials and difficulties. It is the joy of knowing that God is greater than any problem or situation. “For my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).
Please read in its entirety 2 Corinthians 12:7-18. Paul describes his struggle as a (click the link, watch the video) Thorn in the flesh. Paul says that he boasts in his weaknesses so that Christ’ power may rest upon him. God’s grace is sufficient.
What is a thorn? A thorn could be anything. We all have a thorn of some kind. The key is learning how to live as God would have us to with the thorn. This requires trust and surrender. Paul says the purpose of his thorn was to keep him humble. “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matt 23:12).
A mental health crisis can teach you many things about yourself. We often feel the brunt of pain in loss, violence, natural disasters, sickness and death. Just like you, I have been in that place a few times. Going through it, I questioned where God was. I asked why? I am sure you would agree that it is difficult to hold on when things make no sense. You pray to God and hope that you don’t lose your mind.
Contrary to what some think, being a Christian will not shield you from these things. However, God will carry you through them. I have been a Christian since I was 10 years old. Through the trials, I have found that “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
Please repeat after me, “I am Okay – You are Okay.” What does that even mean? Does it mean you are like everyone else, normal? What is normal? A mental health crisis can wreak havoc with your brain and emotions. All you want is to feel normal. The wounds can be self-inflicted, or they can be at hand of someone else.
Whatever the case may be, rest assured the pain will leave a permanent scar. Our longing is that this deeply embedded wound be healed. We pray. We wait. We question. We wait some more, and eventually, we learn to put our trust in God.
My testimony is that even if the pain does not go away, God can and will provide for my needs. If we trust God, we can learn how to live with the scars. There is a higher purpose in them. Only God knows and understands the reason.
I had a professor tell me, “Rebecca, dig into your pain, that’s where the gold is.” Let that sink in a minute. I asked you, where is your pain today? What will your testimony be? You may have to dig deep, but God will be right there with you. Discover your treasure, wait on God, and grow in grace.
I Praise God for what he has done in my life, but it was only by his grace. We can learn to praise Him in the storm! He is the only one that can see us through. There is no other. God is with us. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb 13:5).
I hope you will join me on the journey through Graceland. The journey will empower, equip, and challenge you to never give up. Put your faith and trust in God.