Life…it’s not exactly always a bed of roses. We start realising this hard truth from the moment we begin coming out of childhood and innocence, even though we may often wish it wasn’t so or try to run away in denial.
We fight to get out of that painful condition. We fight to stay in love with our spouses. We fight to beat back all the stresses at work. We fight to get our children to listen to us. Life can sometimes seem like one fight after another.
But the wonderful thing about being a Christian is that we don’t have to fight anymore.
The beauty of the Christian life today is that – we’ve won. Not trying to, not going to, not perhaps we will if we do this or that, but that we have. It’s done. The work is FINISHED.
That’s the word that Jesus cried out in Hebrew when He hung on the cross, after He had taken all our sins, curses, condemnation, imperfections upon Himself and bore all the holy judgement and punishment of God on our behalf.
Yes, you read that right. Jesus didn’t just take our sins (which we all know about), but He also took our curses at the cross. The Bible says in Galatians 3:13, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’).” That’s the reason why Jesus had to die on a cross, and not by any other method, like stoning, which was the usual way Jews executed people in those days.
What’s a curse? God wanted to make sure we knew what curses were, so thankfully He recorded them in the Bible, lest we have any misunderstandings or disputes. There’s an especially long list in Deuteronomy 28 (verses 15-68), which talks about every form and manner of sicknesses, ailments and diseases, relationship woes including straying spouses and children, property and possession losses, and basically a jinxed touch in your work or anything you set out to do. I’ll leave you to read the details for yourself, because it’s a tad too depressing to go into them here.
We also see curses being pronounced on Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, which God told them sadly would come upon them as a result of their actions (and not because God laid the curses upon them). They had eaten from the tree that God had told them not to eat from, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which is in fact a picture of the law. Hence the curses, which are that men would suffer stress and toil in work (to make a living) and women would have a tough time in childbirth with much pain and suffering, are part of the curse of the law.
But you know what? Today as believers in Christ, we don’t have to fear or dread reading about these curses. In fact, we can rejoice when reading through them. Because as we just read, our Lord and Saviour Jesus has redeemed us from them ALL!
What this means is that as Christians we don’t need to accept any of these curses in our lives – we don’t need to accept any pain or sicknesses, any lack or relationship troubles, any stressful work challenges, and any pain or tough labour in childbirth, nope, na-da – amen and hallelujah!
Though these challenges may still come, just as they do for anybody else, we have a choice to not accept them and not let them remain with us, and righteously chase them out of our lives based on the sure and just foundation of Christ having redeemed us from them.
Does it really work? Yes. There’re many testimonies from around the world of people who have experienced such victories in their lives, some of whom I know personally, and I’ve also experienced this in my own life.
So why are there still so many Christians struggling with long-term illnesses and all these other curses in their lives? The answer is found in what Jesus said to the two disciples on Emmaus Road, “O foolish (the Greek word used here means ‘unknowing’) ones, and slow of heart to believe! (Luke 24:25)”
Either they don’t know it, or they don’t believe it. They don’t know it, because no one’s ever told them and they don’t hear about it in church, or they don’t realise the truth of it when they read the Bible. They don’t believe it, because all the information’s that out there in the world today and their experiences tell them otherwise, and what God tells them sounds way out of the norm and simply too good to be true.
But the Bible reminds us gently as Christians, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)” God’s will is that you be free from all curse.
The real fight for us Christians that remains today, is to fight to remain in faith (i.e. to believe this truth), and to remain in rest. In, not at. It doesn’t mean we sit there and do nothing, but that regardless of whatever is happening around us and in whatever we are doing, our hearts remain securely fixed in rest and peace, knowing that our Saviour and God who loves us more than we can ever know and who is always on our side, has accomplished and done it all, for us.
We can’t psych or pep-talk ourselves into rest, or peace. It can’t be done. We might escape temporarily by going out and having a few drinks with friends, watching a movie or playing video games, or taking Valium or some other drugs for more stressful situations, but the peace we are talking about here is peace that is true and lasting.
Peace that surpasses all understanding. Peace that remains and reigns despite our world crashing around us. Peace that doesn’t deny the situation but that somehow knows for sure that everything’s going to be okay and you’ll come out better than when you went in, because your God has promised that. Peace that the world can’t give and money can’t buy.
Because Jesus is the Prince of Peace. You have Jesus, and you’ll have that peace. Because it’s priceless, it can’t be bought, or earned. But Jesus gives it freely as a gift, to all who want it, to all who come to Him.
And what about faith? Faith doesn’t have to be hard, or a barrier to us receiving (e.g. because we don’t have enough of it). When we break it down to its simplest form, faith is nothing more than just saying to the One who made the promise, “Ok, I believe You and take Your word for it. I don’t have to do anything more, because You are the One who made the promise, so You are the One who has to work to keep Your word.”
And that brings us peace. And rest. And before we know it, victory that we can see.
Are you in a fight today? Lean and rest on Jesus, and His victory of that fight for you.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.