We live in a world where personal happiness and well being are at the center of life. The church has unfortunately caught on to this idea as well. Very often, we are given the impression that life with Christ is supposed to answer all our questions and untangle all our knots. We are told that if there are problems and challenges in our lives its a sign that we are not spiritual enough, not working hard enough, not doing good enough.
But when Jesus called his disciples to follow him he did not invite them into a journey of smooth sailing and wide and easy travels through life. He called them to take up their cross, to deny themselves, and to follow him being ready to face anything. That is because the kingdom that he calls us to be a part of is not of this world. The hope that Christ gives spans far beyond our mere physical, psychological or material well being.
Christ’s own path through this world was marked by pain, blood, sweat and tears. And yet, his journey is also one that is shines with glorious triumph. To follow in his footsteps is to expect nothing less. The fire of the trials makes his new life shine in us all the brighter. Our fight and struggle in this world directs our gaze upward to the living hope we have in him.
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty
thy glory in my valley.¹
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- Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. (1975). Banner of Truth Trust.