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I’ve been wanting to expand on last week’s post a little more, so I decided to dig a little deeper to answer one of the big questions that was brought up: “Is following Jesus really worth it?” If you’re being honest, this is likely a question you’ve wrestled with at some point in your life. I know I sure have! And I hope that by the time you reach the end of my post, you can at least begin to answer this question for yourself.
What if We Never Get Our “Happily Ever After?”
The world we live in today is a sinful and broken place. So, when we face pain in this life, it doesn’t exactly surprise us. We know we are sinful, and that this world is fallen, so we all expect to experience at least a few trying times throughout the course of our life. While we expect to experience pain and hardship, we also have the expectation that God will eventually step in and save us from it. We expect God to allow us to face challenges in life, but we also expect Him to ride in, provide a miracle, and save the day by removing us from the difficult situation when we ask Him.
However, this isn’t always how God works. He certainly wouldn’t allow us to continue to suffer for longer than–enter a reasonable amount of time here–one year, two years, would He? Well, not to sound too discouraging and ominous, but sometimes, He does.
Sometimes, God chooses to answer a prayer with a miracle and healing. And other times, He chooses to remain silent, or chooses to answer with a “no” or a “not yet.” Sometimes, we don’t get what we believe would be our “happily ever after” on this side of heaven.
So, what if God does choose to continue allowing your pain? What if He decides not to step in and free you from your suffering? Will you cling to the belief that God is always good, and acknowledge that He’s still got your best interest in mind? And, is all that pain and sorrow even worth following Him in the end, anyways? Is He worth following if He won’t relieve our pain or provide us with answers? So many important, and tough questions!
Paul and the Disciples
Jesus’ disciples didn’t have it easy after He had charged them with spreading the message of the gospel and then ascended into heaven. (An understatement, at best.) Not only were they dismissed and rejected by those they tried to minister to, but they were beaten, imprisoned, starved, tortured, and most of them were eventually killed–all in the name of Jesus Christ.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6 about these hardships he and the other disciples faced in their ministry. But he concludes with this: “[We were] known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (verses 9-10). Paul, along with the rest of the disciples, truly believed that all of this pain and suffering was worth it. They had literally given up everything, even their very lives, to spread the good news.
The disciples remained firm in their belief, even though God continued to allow them to suffer. These men were doing what Jesus had commanded them; and yet, they continued to face hardship after hardship; beating after beating. They were true heroes of faith–surely, God would eventually step in and give them a happy, feel-good ending, right?
But He didn’t. He continued to allow them to endure more pain and suffering than we could ever even begin to imagine. And in the end, most of these men eventually died a horrible, ugly death. Yet they never wavered, and they continued to find joy through it all. They knew that being faithful to Jesus was worth every beating, every cold, lonely night spent in prison, and even death. They continued on because they knew there was something amazing waiting for them on the other side of heaven.
Do You Believe Jesus is Worth Following?
Now, there is only one thing left to ask yourself: Do I believe that following Jesus is worth it? Even if God doesn’t step in and save me from the hardships of this life, is he still worth giving up everything to follow? While we don’t face any imminent threat to our life by sharing the gospel here in America where we have the right to worship freely, that certainly doesn’t mean we won’t endure any trying times in this life. Our hardships look much different than those of the disciples’ so many years ago, but we still struggle today.
What will you do if God doesn’t step in, even after years of waiting? If His answer is “no” or “not yet?” Will you give up on God and attempt to go your own way? Or, will you cling to Him and allow Him to continue to hold you through the pain, even if He doesn’t take it away? Is He worth it to you?
In Romans 8:18, Paul writes, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory what will be revealed in us.” What a comfort it is knowing that the pain we experience today can’t even touch the scale in comparison of the glory that we will experience in eternity! Be encouraged, dear friends, because the joy that is to come will make the pain we feel today seem like a tiny little bump in the road. Paul says it’s not even comparable! If you are struggling today–whether it’s been days or years–hold on close to this hope. Know that someday soon, your pain will be gone for good! And remember the glory promised to you that will last for eternity!
This post was inspired by multiple entries from Lindsey Bell’s devotional book Unbeaten (click to view on Amazon). As I’ve mentioned in this previous post, I highly recommend this devotional if you are going through any sort of storm in your life right now and are looking for a book to walk you through it. The author was inspired to write this by her multiple miscarriages, but it really could apply to anyone facing a trying time in their life. It has brought so much comfort and encouragement to me as I’ve worked through it!