The Bible anticipates persecution for the saints. We often don’t. We tend to anticipate a life lived in lollypop lane. Consider this, therefore, a corrective tract for peddlers of the prosperity Gospel in our day.
Having done our penance we expect our Heavenly Father to shower us with the good life now.
The evidence for this is the amount of Christian conversation taken up with promises of God’s wonderful plan for your life and the popularity of books like, “Your best life now”, by Joel Olsteen.
Living and thinking this way tends to make us unprepared for life in the world as it actually is. And I am not just talking about life-threatening persecution. The assumption of perfection in any sphere of life before death only leads to despair.
We come under trials for all kinds of reasons. Pressure to conform and fit in with the world is applied on all sides. We are tempted by our decaying sinful nature and by the devil himself. Nothing is neutral.
Whether it’s your purity, your education or your wallet, we are pressured to conform our minds to the world or else suffer the consequences.
This life does contain many blessings. Coming to Christ in faith lowers your cocaine bill, puts a man to work for his family and blesses a wife with contentment.
But it does not remove hardship. On the contrary, coming to Christ in faith guarantees it (2 Timothy 3:12).
God’s wonderful plan is that you should follow His wonderful and entirely trustworthy Son rather than your own inclinations.
To walk in the footsteps of Jesus is to navigate the hardship, not side-step it. It’s to walk in often painful steps because Christ has walked those painful steps ahead of us.
The encouragement to the believer is not that we will all have a rosy life on account of His self-sacrifice.
The encouragement to the believer is that our walk is taking us somewhere glorious and that we do not walk alone.
He, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, will keep us to the end.