I have a friend from high school who I would go anywhere with. He’s 6’3, 210 pounds and is a well trained Navy medic. He’s the kinda guy you feel more confident around like you could take a few more risks or survive the worst situations. There’s something about being with him that makes me stand a little taller, feel a little braver, and walk a little more confidently. Who we are with can drastically change our outlook on the circumstances around us.
I’m going to take a chance that you might identify with the phrase, “paddling upstream”. I bet there is an area in your life right now where you feel exhausted. You feel like things are overwhelming and you are not sure if you’re gonna make it past this trial. You’re stuck in a season where things are beyond your wisdom and ability and you have been crying out to God for answers. Just when one trial ends another one pops up requiring a faith check. Here are two things I believe we can keep in mind.
1 – Surrender Leads to Freedom
Surrender is one of the hardest lessons to teach a child and even harder to teach an adult. Each of my children has their classic “battle of the wills” stories that define their baby/toddler years. With each child we have had to lovingly and firmly teach them the importance of surrender. It sounds counterintuitive to let go of control but the blessing of surrender is freedom. It’s amazing how the demeanor of a child changes after he gives up control and trusts his parent. The anxiety, tantrums, and tension fade away and a simple peace comes over them. Why do we have to learn this all over again when we grow up?
We reach adulthood and suddenly we want all that control back. The scary part is now we direct this anxious tantrum behavior towards God. We have a hard time believing that He’s got our best interest in mind so we strive to succeed on our own. It doesn’t take long before self-success wears us out. We need to admit that our life is not about success -it’s about surrender. Success will lead us to believe productivity and prosperity are the goals. The truth is what we need most is freedom and only surrender leads to freedom. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Don’t go back to that kid who thinks having it his way is the best way.
2 – His Presence is His Promise
I have a tendency to evaluate the odds of success in each difficulty based on my abilities. If I work hard enough and think smart enough I tend to believe that I can get through anything. Then I’m reminded of how weak I am. That’s normally when I turn to God to fix things and clean up the mess. I tell God it’s his responsibility to fix things now, isn’t that His job? But God doesn’t work as my personal janitor. He didn’t promise to act as “Mr. Fixit” at the snap of my fingers. In fact, Jesus laid out the opposite to his disciples, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33) There is no promise in there to “get rid” of the troubles, the promise is to overcome.
What I want is a solution. What Jesus desires is communion. I want Jesus to fix things or at least for me to be able to fix things. And yet, I’m beginning to see that my faith isn’t made stronger by what I can do, it’s made stronger by who I’m with. When we live in the freedom that Christ has given us we can experience the communion that fuels us to live as overcomers. It isn’t our efforts that make us overcomers it’s our companionship with the Overcomer. It is our companionship with Jesus that should cause us to stand a little taller, feel a little braver, and live more confidently! His presence is the power we need to navigate each trial with peace. If He is with us nothing can stand against us!
Are you willing to stop looking for a solution and instead embrace your Savior? The irony is that as we embrace communion with our Savior during this season we are also embracing the solution. The solution to our season of trial and difficulty is not an outcome to overcome our problems, it’s walking through the storm side by side with the Overcomer. If He is with you then you are gonna be okay. This scary season isn’t going to defeat you. You are not going through this alone. Remember who you are with! Oh, how precious is the communion of Christ during the most confusing seasons of life.
Listen to the promise of Jesus, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)