Two weeks ago we addressed the question, “Why is life so hard?” We regularly need to be reminded that at times life can be difficult. There is no way around that. We live in a fallen world where sin reigns mostly due to our human nature and our own choices. Sometimes the choices that others make hurt us and contribute to our discomfort. Unfortunately becoming a follower of Christ does not mean that suddenly life becomes easy. So maybe the question should be asked a different way.
How will becoming a Christian help me deal with the hard times in my life?
Think about who we are as humans. We are selfish and prideful and make wrong choices. That pretty much describes everyone with whom you interact. That’s why we all end up hurting ourselves and others and why others hurt us. But God’s good news is that Christians have a helper, we call the Holy Spirit, to comfort us when we we’re hurting; to help us see clearly when the road ahead is cloudy and dark. Life doesn’t necessarily become easier, but you are better able to endure your suffering knowing that as you sincerely call on God, he will give you peace.
When the first humans chose to break their relationship with God (Gen. 2:16-17), he promised he would provide a way to restore that relationship. He did that by first sending his son, Jesus, to suffer the consequences of our separating ourselves from God. Then he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell all those who accept the death of Jesus as the substitute for their own death, and choose to become a follower of Jesus. They, in effect, are born anew. As such, each Christian can enjoy a measure of peace knowing that Jesus has “overcome this world” (John 16:33).
James, Jesus’ half-brother, wrote that we should change our perspective when we face these difficulties, because they produce joy and maturity in us when we rely on God for help in these circumstances (James 1:2-4, 2 Cor. 4:17). For a Christian, facing life’s difficulties is easier knowing that:
“The joy of the Lord is our strength”
Discovery questions like this one suggest that an adventure lies ahead. Indeed, discovering God’s plan for one’s life is the greatest journey a person can ever undertake. It is often revealed in phases over one’s lifetime as a Christian matures in their faith. Finding your purpose in life and living it with a passion is God’s intent for everyone. Then and only then will you be able to honor God with your life and your work or calling and enjoy his presence now and forever. So where do we start the search for God’s plan which was actually in place before you were born. That in itself is an amazing truth. (Ephesians 2:10)
It seems therefore that we should go first to the source, the Bible, God’s inspired Word, to discover the plan. In Jeremiah 29:11 for example we find, “for I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.” So from this verse we know with certainty that God has a plan for each believer in Jesus. Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.” In other words, in searching for God’s plan one needs to diligently explore the Scriptures to become aware of God’s promises and their special calling from Jesus and one needs to abide in Jesus and follow His calling. Jesus wants you to become a disciple that makes disciples in whatever profession you are given. You are to become a partner in building God’s kingdom. Church Pastors, Christian guidance counselors and Christian friends can help you in your search.
To fully realize ‘the plan’ as a Christian you must live the Christian values of love, sympathy, compassion, humility, honesty and moral integrity. The apostle Peter said it well in chapter 3 verses eight and nine. His parting words were,” Finally, all of you be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, humble, and compassionate. Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but on the contrary a blessing because to this you were called that you might inherit a blessing.” The blessing is a life filled with meaning, with purpose and joy and an assurance of eternity in Heaven!
Therefore, in order to discover and live God’s plan one needs to read the Scriptures, pray, abide in Jesus, listen to the Holy Spirit, obey the Commandments, and finally become mature disciples of Jesus that share the gospel message of redemption and hope with everyone God brings into your path. God’s plan is for everyone to become more like Jesus.