Only a week into this new year, and we’re already facing hard circumstances. The news of turmoil and the ongoing Covid crisis creates a sandwich, with our own personal problems in the middle. Turning the calendar page did not change the fact that we live in a broken world.
At my normal 3:00 a.m. lie-awake-and-worry-about-everything hour last night, I could feel my stress level rising unbearably. The beauty of a restful holiday was in the rear-view mirror, and the reality of re-entering responsibility stretched out in front of me. Overwhelmed, I groaned, because that’s what we do when we have to do normal life surrounded by brokenness and constantly feeling the shards of sin and failings in our own spirits. While we live in this tent, we are burdened.
So, I got up and had a very early morning devotion, which led me to Romans 15:5. I pulled out this statement Paul makes:
…the God who gives endurance and encouragement…
This is not what I want. When I’m honest, what I really want is an easier life, but that is not what Paul says he gives (and Paul had anything but an easy life.) In fact, Jesus words ring in my ears that in this world we absolutely for sure are going to have trouble. This new year? It’s going to be full of trouble, maybe even more than last year. It’s possible that the trials of 2020 will pale in comparison to what’s coming for us. I don’t think I can possibly live in a manner pleasing to Christ, until I accept this fact.
When we accept that we live in a broken world and that governments, systems, relationships, the planet, and our bodies are disintegrating more than they are improving, then our prayers will change from, “Lord, please make my life easier” to “Lord, help me endure living here until I leave this tent and get to be in my heavenly dwelling. Give me courage to live, filled with your Spirit, for a new day in an evil, falling-apart world.”
I have embraced the statement “We live in a broken world.” When hard news hits, I say it out loud to myself. It has helped me shape my expectation that hard things will keep coming. Wholeness and perfection are not to be found here, not in this slowly failing body of mine and not in sinful people and not in my government or any system set up by men.
We must pray as biblically informed people this year, asking for endurance and encouragement instead of ease. This goes against every grain of the American spirit. We want life, liberty, and happiness!! It’s the American way, but America is broken just like everything else.
Life, liberty, and full happiness are an inheritance waiting for us in heaven, so we long to leave here and be with Jesus. Until then, we groan and are burdened, and we pray properly for endurance and encouragement to live in this temporary place.