Happy Shiny Christians
He asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life . . .“ 1 Kings 19:4
I have recently been wrestling with a recurrent theme from the Old Testament. Many times, God told the Israelites that if they obeyed Him, they would be rewarded with success (Deuteronomy 12:28). Repeatedly, the Israelites experienced triumph when they followed God and trials when they wandered.
Does this apply to us? If we follow God, will we enjoy earthly riches and happiness? When we suffer trials and misery, does that mean we are not following God? Are good Christians all happy, shiny and successful?
Reality tells me that this is not always the case. Though I have caused significant destruction in my addiction, and though my life has radically improved in my recovery, I know many who enjoy undeserved success and many who endure trials they do not seem to have caused.
The prophet Elijah knew hardship, trials and depression. Though he successfully opposed the 450 prophets of Baal, Queen Jezebel subsequently sentenced him to death. Forced to flee, Elijah wanted to die. Take my life God. Though he obeyed God, Elijah did not find worldly success and he certainly didn’t seem joyful.
Was Elijah wrong to despair? Did God chastise Elijah’s depression? No, in his darkest hour, God comforted Elijah, while firmly redirecting him. The passage says that God caused a mighty wind, an earthquake and lightning to pass by Elijah, but God’s voice was not in them. After those terrible things passed by, God’s voice came to a broken Elijah as a low whisper.
Sometimes, our life’s greatest challenge is just to hear the whisper of God. In Galatians, Paul lists the results of a spirit-filled life, including: love, joy, peace, and self-control. Just as self-control is my life struggle, for others, finding joy and peace is the struggle. Just as every day, I must choose to follow God or my own appetite, others will find it a daily struggle simply to find contentment and joy in God.
I am not suggesting that addiction and depression are the same. I am just insisting that we all have our own life struggles and we all must choose daily to listen to God’s voice in our struggle.