By nature, our values are backwards and upside down in relation to God’s kingdom. We are wired to save our own lives, but Jesus tells us to lose them for his sake. Necessity requires us to prioritize food and shelter, but Jesus says the Kingdom is what really matters.
Nowhere are my upside-down, backwards values more evident than my preference for a life that goes smoothly. Nothing frustrates me more than problems that disrupt my plans. I mean, who plans to have problems, right?
But Jesus says, “Problems are precisely the point.”
That’s why James says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” (James 1:2 NLT)
God’s people see problems as a reason to celebrate because God’s goal for our lives is maturity, not a big house on Easy Street. Only when we are spiritually mature can we bear the fruit of the Kingdom, and we will not reach maturity unless we endure trials. We can’t develop endurance unless our faith is tested by troubles.
Got trouble? Good for you! The good news is, you aren’t alone.
Not having a job and the assurance of a regular paycheck drives you smack into the issue of who you are trusting for your provision — and whether your heart is focused primarily on God’s kingdom or earthly security.
It’s hard to hear Jesus when he says in Matthew 6 that life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. How can there be life if you don’t have food and clothing?
But Jesus isn’t telling me God will leave me without food and clothing. He’s telling me I can’t be consumed with serving God if I am consumed with worry about what my family will eat today. He’s telling me I have to decide who I trust to provide my daily survival needs. “Don’t worry about everyday life,” he says. “These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers. Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek his kingdom above all else, and live for his justice, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:32-33)
Like one of my friends said a few days ago, “Easier said than done.” And I suppose that’s the point. It’s easier to trust money and worry than it is to trust God and focus on his kingdom.
When you wake up at 3 am, wondering how the bills will get paid today, it’s hard to take hold of Philippians 4:6 — “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (NLT)
But what can you do, except take God at his word?