We all want our life to be perfect. Or if not perfect, at least above-average. And smooth-sailing.
We want to have a good education, get a good job, marry a good dependable husband or a sweet beautiful wife, and live happily ever after in a picture perfect house with a cute and happy family enjoying life. And perhaps for many of us we seem to be there, at least based on the photos we post on Faceback and Instagram.
But life happens. Stuff happens. Life is not always a bed of roses. And behind the put-together look, full schedules and all-smiling photos, there are struggles we deal with that only we and God know about.
Maybe it’s a relationship or marriage situation that has gone unresolved for years. Maybe it’s a difficult child who saps your energy and keeps you worrying day after day. Maybe it’s a crippling health condition that came out of nowhere and turned your entire life upside down into an everyday battle to get back into normalcy. Maybe it’s a failed business venture that left you riddled with debt and nowhere to run from the banks and creditors. Maybe it’s pressure from work or school that’s so great that it just seems like there’s no way out. Maybe it’s a disorder or an addiction or something you have been struggling with for such a long time that a seeping sense of hopelessness has just crept in and taken hold of you. Maybe it’s a terrible mistake that you’ve made, that has left you mired in regret in a place you don’t want to be.
In the world that we live in, these struggles are real. Suicide and divorce rates are higher than they’ve ever been, and the ages of those committing suicide are getting younger and younger, with even schoolchildren in cities all over the world choosing to end their life to escape the pressure from school and home, and with more couples deciding to call it quits earlier in the marriage. People suffering debilitating conditions lose hope for their life and opt for euthanasia.
Any number of these things can certainly wear us down and drain us of life and hope. The burden is sometimes just simply too much for us to bear.
A well-known Christian poster titled Footprints reads like this:
A man went to Heaven, and there he met God and talked to God about his life. God showed him his whole journey in life as footprints walked on a beach, stretching as far on either end as the eye could see. There were 2 sets of footprints in most parts – one set was the man’s, and the other set was God’s, walking beside him.
Then the man saw some parts where there was only 1 set of footprints, and he asked God, “Why are there only 1 set of footprints in those parts? Were those the tough seasons when You left me to walk on my own?” And God smiled and answered him, “No, My son. Those were the times I carried you because you couldn’t go on on your own.”
In Luke 15, Jesus shares this parable about the lost sheep: a man who had 100 sheep and lost one of them, left the 99 to find the one lost sheep, and does not rest until he finds it. And when he finds the lost sheep, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing, and when he comes home, calls together his friends and neighbours, asking them to rejoice and celebrate with him for his finding of his lost sheep.*
What kind of man does this? I don’t know that anyone among us would do anything like that. There is only one Man who would, Jesus Himself.
When we are lost, due to our own wandering and straying, and we can’t find our way back, Jesus will come and look for us until He finds us, and when He does, He will rest our weary souls and bodies on His strong shoulders, rejoicing and celebrating all the way.
Jesus our good Shepherd also said this: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one” (John 10:27-30).
Once we are in Christ, no one, not even ourselves, can snatch us out of Jesus’s and His Father’s strong hands. Let’s find peace and rest in the realisation that it is not how hard we run after or cling onto God, but how securely we are held in His hand. Always.
When you feel like you can’t go on any further, not even for another day, know that there’s Someone who is always holding on to you, to carry you through and bring you out on the other side of your troubles.
His name is Jesus. He will be your courage. He will be your hope. He will be your wisdom. He will be your strength. He will even be your faith. Let Him carry you.
Even if you might have already let go, from a commitment or a relationship, or hope of things ever changing and better things to come in the future, He is still holding on to you, and He will bring you onwards and upwards to a better place.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.
*The parable of the lost sheep is told in Luke 15:3-7.