Three years in to Jesus’ ministry on earth, the disciples must have felt that they’d found their groove. Except for the predicable run-ins with the visionless religious leaders in the city, Jesus was wildly popular, well-known and gaining more and more influence with the common people in the community. His entrance into Jerusalem practically hailed Him as new king. “Hosanna to the Son of David,” the crowds proclaimed! (Matt. 21:9) Once the celebration concluded, quiet discussions among the disciples pondered what would happen when Jesus eventually made his play to cast off the Roman oppression and set up His kingdom on earth. A few even bickered about the powerful roles that would most certainly await them as Christ’s most trusted inner group. (Mk 10:37)
How disoriented and bewildered they must have been when only a week later, Jesus’ prediction of suffering, trial and death unraveled their expectation.
Have you ever been there? Do you know the pain and frustration of seeing good and right hopes crumble? Do you wonder how to push forward in faith when things just aren’t turning out as you planned?
In this life, relationships end. Circumstances change. The unexpected happens. Disappointment and frustration settle in and take hold. We want answers. Explanations. Understanding. Assurances.
But pushing aside our demands, Jesus whispers a reassuring reminder…
“Believe in God. Believe also in Me.” John 14:1
And you know, sometimes that has to be enough. The reality of the Christian life… and of life in general… is that we don’t get the answers we want. We don’t get guarantees. We don’t get the promise of our fulfilled expectations.
But we do get Jesus.
God understands our natural tendencies. He doesn’t get mad, surprised or disappointed when we react to unexpected circumstances with strong emotion. But as we develop spiritually, we ought not get stuck in a downward spiral. Instead, we should wind up in the same place the Apostle Paul did—leaning on Christ to give him the ability to endure whatever came his way.
An often misapplied scripture reads– “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13) Instead of being an overcoming shout of self-assurance, essentially, Paul was saying that “when things are bad… when I’m tempted to grumble and complain or run from difficulty, I lean on Christ– He’s the one that gives me ability to keep going in extreme situations.” Just as Paul did, we must also learn to adopt that attitude if we’re ever to remain steadfast against the winds of adversity that rage against us.
Changing our perspective on the difficulties of life won’t happen with sheer will-power. It begins where everything in the Christian life begins… with Jesus Christ. Instead of blaming the Lord for the situations that make us cry or retreat into despair, we must gradually learn to take our honest pain to Him.
As Jesus was dragged away to be crucified, the disciples couldn’t see anything beyond the destruction of their hopes. We often can’t either. It’s in those times we have to choose to continue to believe… not because of anything we can see… but only because we have met, and know firsthand, who Jesus really is.