This scripture shows the difference between just surviving and thriving. Too many Christians are living life on the wrong side of the comma! Life before the comma is just surviving but Jesus didn’t die for you to JUST have life, He came and died that you could have life MORE ABUNDANTLY!
That word abundantly in the original Greek is Perissos (per-is-sos’ ) which means: over and above, more than is necessary, something further, more, much more than all, superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon, more eminent, more remarkable, and more excellent.1
Living more abundantly is not necessarily “Living Happily Ever After” but it can be “Joyfully ever after”
The problem is too many of God’s children are living on the wrong side of this comma!
1 Peter 5: 6-13 NLT
“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to his eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. After you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power is his forever and ever. Amen. I have written this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I consider a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that the grace of God is with you no matter what happens”
Faithfulness to God does not guarantee believers freedom from trouble, pain, and suffering in their lives. In fact, Jesus taught that in this world we would have tribulation, but we should be encouraged because He overcame the world (John 16:33).
There are many reasons that believers suffer. Some of those reasons are:
- Because we live in a sinful and corrupt world
- Because it is a consequence of Adam and Eve’s fall
- Believers suffer at the hands of the devil
- Sometimes we suffer because of our own actions
If you are alive and breathing, at one time or another you will suffer loss or face a crushing crisis. Loss is a part of life, and it happens to all of us in some way or another. Unjustified loss is even harder to handle. What do you do when life feels unfair? How can you respond and hope for restoration when dreams and aspirations have been ripped from your grasp? How do you survive on those days when bad news has to wait in line just to talk to you?
Virtually every hero and heroine in literature and the Bible had to persevere through tough times. The question is did they survive, or also thrive?
Sometimes we can survive a crisis only to live the rest of our life doing just that…..SURVIVING. What I want to talk about today is not only surviving a crisis, but truly making a comeback. So often, the true test of suffering is how we respond to it.
There was a time that the Lord painted a vivid picture lesson for me on this topic. We had experienced a very bad ice storm in Missouri. A few days after the bad weather, I was traveling between my work locations. As I was praying while driving down that rural highway, my attention was suddenly drawn from the road in front of me to the trees beside me. These were very tall pine trees along both sides of the road. The one on the left side of the road bowed over with the weight of the ice. I heard the Lord clearly say:
“This is a picture of how so many of my people are….weighed down by the cares and concerns of this life, because they will not give them to me.”
Then my attention immediately went to the other side of the road. The trees on this side had been exposed to sunlight since the storm ended. All of the ice had melted away from these trees and they stood as tall as they normally should. This reminded me of another Scripture.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NASU
The picture lesson continued. Next, I noticed the trees, which had not been able to bear the weight of the ice that had broken, and were destroyed. Since I was picturing these trees as God’s children, I asked Him in my prayer, “Lord what about the ones which have been destroyed?” Immediately, in my mind, I saw a picture of a huge Victorian house, and I heard Him say, “I can build something new out of them!” Then I saw a vivid picture of a roaring fire and He said, “They do not have to lay on the roadside and rot! They will never be a tree again, but I can make something great out of them, if they will let Me!” It is amazing what God can do with broken pieces, and vessels others may consider in the natural to be worthless and insignificant.
The lesson the Lord was showing me, was that we had options after a crisis. Some were still so weighed down with the cares, with the grief, and with the mourning. They could cast those cares over on the Lord and He would help all of those concerns to melt away. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what He is asking us to do:
“Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.: 1 Peter 5:7 Amplified Bible
“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” Psalm 55:22 NASU
That word “casting” means to throw. If we throw all our cares over on Him then we don’t carry them…..We trust in His provision and stay in faith believing that we don’t need to be concerned.
Let me demonstrate it another way with a visual picture you can create in your own mind. See yourself trying to carry all these suitcases at once with no assistance.
- A small laptop bag: This bag represents the stress of work that often weighs us down. Concerns that we may lose our jobs, or that our hours will be reduced. Perhaps you have challenges at work with unreasonable expectations, or a difficult manager or coworkers.
- A medium size suitcase on wheels: This suitcase represents your family relationships. While you juggle the pressure of work, many pressures about family are also evident. You want to be a good parent…you want to make good decisions as you rear your children…..you want to be a good husband/wife and meet your spouse’s needs….You want to be good to your parents and give them proper respect and care as they get older. The list can go on and on in this category.
- A stacking suitcase you put on top of the last one: This case represents your finances. While juggling the cares of work and family, we often have concerns about our finances. Will we have enough money to provide for our needs/wants….how will we prepare for the future…..how will we pay for our children’s education?
- Another medium size suitcase on wheels: This case represent ministry. We want to be faithful to our personal devotional time with God and to our local church. We should participate in ministry opportunities using the abilities we have been blessed with.
- The last suitcase is the largest one you can picture in your mind and it represents crisis. You put the name to it. It could be sickness, it could be grief, it could be tragedy, or divorce. It is the thing you have to carry on top of all your other responsibilities.
Now that you have this picture, can you imagine carrying all these responsibilities, cares, or concerns that these bags represent all alone? While holding on to all of these cases, can you even consider raising your hands to worship? This is a picture of how we are when we try to carry all the weight of life instead of casting our cares over on the Lord.
Here is your cure for worry and anxiety:
Matthew 6:25-33 NASU
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
When we tuck a child into their crib at night, that child sleeps soundly and has no fear or burdens. That child is not worried about safety, he isn’t worried about the house payment. He rests in the confidence that His Daddy and Mommy will take care of him.
This is the same confidence we can have as a child of God. He cares about you more than you ever know. Be encouraged with that knowledge today.
- (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)