Side Effects of Life

You know those really dramatic fight scenes in movies and television shows, where the underdog is down and the crowd favorite is about to celebrate his victory in the ring…but then, out of nothing but sheer willpower, the underdog gets up again and looks his opponent dead in the eye?

That’s the type of scene I’ve always loved most.  My parents and Erin will tell you: I’ve always been the biggest cheerleader of the underdog, in real-life and fiction.  Maybe it’s because I’ve felt like an underdog at times, an outlier.  Maybe it’s just the way I’m biologically programmed.  Either way, I just love a good underdog victory.

That scene is also how I envision my spiritual battle this year.  The Devil hits me hard, I shake it off and square up.  The Devil wins the round, but I’m back for the next one.  The Devil knocks me down, I take a deep breath and stand up for another.

I feel like that’s how almost everyone I’m close to feels right now, too.

The last time I wrote (about a month ago), I talked about the anger I was feeling from various things going on in my life.  As bad things continued to pile up for so many loved ones and myself, I temporarily lost my fight.  I was the underdog, worn out and weary, not wanting to stand back up and fight.  I won’t lie; I stayed on the mat for a bit.  But – I continued to read scripture, and I continued to soul search.  And one day, it hit me.

All of these bad things are simply side effects of life.

We live in a fallen world.  One that is filled with chronic diagnoses and cancer and miscarriages and divorces and biopsies and anxiety and pain.  And sometimes we pray that those bad things won’t happen, that they will change or come to an end…but sometimes they don’t.   Just like Paul prayed three times for the “thorn in his side” to be removed and it wasn’t.  Maybe it’s because, in those moments that feel like you’re shattering into a million pieces, God’s glory can be most intense.  He may not give you the thing you want, but that’s because He knows a future that you don’t.  He wants you to trust Him; He wants you to follow Him…despite the difficulties of this world.

As hard as that pill can be to swallow, it’s true.  We aren’t called to an easy life; we’re called to live for Christ.  And sometimes, living for Christ means taking on those “I can’t do it” moments and doing them anyway.

I honestly can’t tell you with full confidence that everything happens for a reason.  I can’t tell you that you won’t ever get more than you can handle (that verse about temptation is constantly taken out of context to make us believe that bad things shouldn’t come our way).  Do I believe that God knows what is going to happen?  Absolutely.  But do I also firmly believe that God gives all of us choices, and our future can change depending on the choices we make?  Absolutely.

Now, is that the perfect, reassuring answer you wanted to hear?  I doubt it.  Is it the “right” answer?  I honestly don’t know.  But there is one thing that I can rest assured in: the troubles of this world are only temporary.  We have better things coming, y’all, even if they aren’t in this life.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Time to square up, friends.

2 Replies to “Side Effects of Life”

  1. I was sitting with a friend last week and we are both working through problems that at the moment are certainly making us feel like the underdogs. And I kept repeating myself, “Why are we putting up with this? What happened to good things for good people?” I know I am looking for some signs in the end that the good-hearted underdog will win in the end or something reassuring to that effect. The dramatic side of me wants to see such a story in this but sometimes that answer just doesn’t exist.

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    1. I’ll be honest with you – I honestly don’t believe the “good things for good people” mentality has ever been a real thing in this world. As Matthew 5:45 says, “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.” If we’re looking for physical blessings and an easy life in this world, we’re just not going to find it according to scripture. That’s why Heaven is going to be so wonderful! No more sickness, no more dying, no more worries. That may not be the “fun” answer for the here and now, but it’s what gives me hope, peace, and joy every single day. My underdog story is one of fighting the Devil, who is crueler and more vicious than any human opponent could ever dream of being…but, because of Christ, I can overcome in the end.

      “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

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