Survive or Thrive, when normal really isn't normal!
Have any of you ever done that? Maybe, maybe not, but I see this pattern in many people. They have gotten so use to defeat, hurt, rejection, being alone that they live like it is normal. I have seen people actually be threatened when they see the solution to their problem coming. There is a false sense of control when life has been hard for so long that you cannot remember the last time you felt free. Spiritually, I see this often within the church. You know, the local group of people that God has placed together to be a lighthouse to their community, conquerers of the gates of hell and a beacon of hope in their city. The church, which claims verses like "You are more than a conquerer" lives like being conquered is normal.
I have watched churches I have served in and have been aquainted with, live as if their dying was normal. I have watched people in those churches become so accustom to defeat and failure that they think it will never change. In those churches and the people that serve with them, defeat leads to division! It has become so normal to feel defeated that defeating others within the church is normal.
Now, some of you might be thinking to mind my own business, but I have seen some of these same emotions become normal in my life. I once told my wife "that I have felt struggle for so long that I don't know how it feels not to struggle and I am a little afraid of what it feels like to not struggle". Some of you know me and have heard my story about battling my past hurts and pains. You know that I battle depression and fight for joy continuously. I hurt for people that live with the struggles I do, but I also realize that many of us have lived in hurt so long that we don't know what it feels like not to live in hurt. We don't know what freedom feels like and might be afraid of who that person really is.
God does not desire His kids to live in defeat. Paul writes to the Romans (chapter 8) that nothing can separate them from the love of God and that we are bigger than we think. How can we be more than conquerers and yet feel defeated continuously? Our problem: emotions can lie to us. They can muddy the crystal clear waters of truth and cause us to see things that really are false as being truth. I believe the enemy, Satan himself, loves to rile our emotions for the sake of blinding us to the truth. In the bible, 2 Corinthians chapter 4 tells us that Satan has blinded the vision of those not Christ's. I know he has the power to rile us into depression, rage, sorrow, and fear. He uses these to distort the truth, probably why he is called the Great Deceiver. Jesus Christ's answer to this is to know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32). Freedom! Can you hear the William Wallace like cry now? FREEDOM! Freedom is from in truth. Truth is found in the constant pursuit of Jesus and His heart (intimacy). Satan knows this and does everything he can to keep us from being in intimacy with God.
Here is my pattern of struggle: I don't make time to spend alone with God which ends up in less prayer and a lack of reading His Word (The Bible). This will lead to not seeing the enemies traps and being tangled within his junk! Then I begin to struggle and because I continue not to spend time with God, I begin to believe that this is how it is, constant struggle.
However, Jesus speaks against the constant feeling of defeat, especially in John 10:10. Jesus tells His disciples that Satan has come to steal, kill and destroy, but that He has come to give us LIFE and LIFE MORE ABUNDANTLY. Yeah, I doubt this too many times. I look at this passage and wonder what LIFE is really suppose to feel like? But that's my emotion speaking and my emotions have muddied the crystal clear waters of truth. The Truth? That I am Christ's and always will be. The life He has for me is incredible and can be found if I would make my purpose to be with Him. Abundant life is found in the source of Jesus Christ. There we find freedom from our sin, our emotions and our pain. With Jesus is where we Thrive!
My worry for many of us; we have gotten so use to just surviving that we are afraid to Thrive. As someone who has experienced Thriving, know that the feeling of peace is so incredible, that when trials come, you aren't thrown so hard into despair. In fact, you will see God use those trials to reveal how much more than a conquerer you are, if you are His!
Survive or Thrive, which do you want? It depends on your intimacy with Jesus!
The normal you are living in really isn't normal!