Suffering and sorrow are a part of life. Knowing this, however, doesn't make it any easier to cope when you find yourself in the midst of the deepest, darkest trials of faith. Jack Zavada of Inspiration-for-Singles.com reminds us, however, that when all we have left is Jesus, we still have everything we need. If you are suffering to the point of despair, let these words of encouragement help you hang on to your faith.
When All You Have Left is Jesus
Don't you wish Christianity could make you exempt from suffering?
That would be great, but as most of us have learned, following our faith doesn't give us a free ride. We catch as much trouble as unbelievers—often more.
The difference, of course, is that we can turn to Jesus when things go wrong. Unbelievers might argue that we're only turning to our imagination, but we know better.
Our Christian faith consists of many elements: worshipping God in church, praying, reading the Bible and meditating on it, being involved in ministries, supporting missionaries, helping the sick and poor, and bringing others to the faith. We do these acts not to work our way into heaven, but out of love and gratitude to God.
At some time in your life, however, suffering will hit you so hard that you won’t be able to do any of those things, and that dark time will probably visit you more than once.
The Bitterness of Discouragement
We all want things we don't get. Maybe it's a person you're sure would make a perfect spouse, and the relationship crumbles apart. Maybe it's a better job or promotion, and you don't make the cut. Or it might be a goal you poured your time and energy into, and it doesn't come to pass.
All of us have prayed for the recovery of loved ones who were ill, but they died anyway.
The bigger the disappointment, the more your world is shaken. You might get angry or bitter or feel like a failure. We all react in different ways.
Our frustration can seem like a valid excuse to stop going to church. We may withdraw our support from our church and even stop praying, thinking we're getting back at God. Whether it's from discouragement or just complacency, we're at a turning point in our life.
It takes real spiritual maturity to stay faithful when things go wrong, but severing our relationship with God punishes us, not him. It's self-destructive behavior that can put us on the path to a miserable life. The parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) teaches us that God always wants us to come back to him.
The Helplessness of AgingSometimes our Christian activities are taken from us. I saw my aunt at church this morning. Her daughter had brought her, because my aunt recently went into a nursing home. She is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
For more than 50 years, this godly woman was actively involved in our church. Her life was a beautiful example of kindness, compassion, and helping other people. She served as a wonderful example for her children, for me, and for countless others who know her.
As we age, most of us will be able to do less and less. Christian activities that were once a big part of our life will no longer be possible. Instead of helping, we'll need to be helped. We'll find our faculties failing us, much to our distress.
We may not be able to attend church. We may not be able to read the Bible or even be able to concentrate well enough to pray.
When Only Jesus RemainsWhether your problem is discouragement, illness or aging, sometimes all you have left is Jesus.
When you're angry and bitter, you can still cling to Jesus in the midst of your tears. You can grab onto him and refuse to let go until he brings you through it. You'll find, to your surprise, that he holds on to you even tighter than you hold on to him.
Jesus understands sorrow. He knows about being hurt. He remembers the terrible moment on the cross when his Father was forced to abandon him, because he was filthy from taking on our sins. Jesus won't let you go.
And as you age and start down the path from this life to the next, Jesus will take your hand to guide you. He appreciates all that you have done for him through the years, but what he has always wanted most is your love. When you can't do good deeds any more to show him your love, the love itself still remains.
In those times when your joy or abilities are stripped away and you realize that all you have left is Jesus, you'll discover, as I have, that Jesus is all you need.
Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian Web site for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.