When Life Sucks

Can we get real for a minute? You know how when people ask you at church how you’re doing, you automatically say something to the effect of ‘I’m doing pretty good, how about you?’, even when you’re about as far away from ‘doing good’ as you can possibly get?

Your life may be falling apart around you:

- A relationship breakup

- A health issue or sick loved one

- Finances are a mess

- Can’t figure out what God’s plan is for your life

- You’re struggling with an addiction/major issue

But we still feel like, as Christians, we’re supposed to know how to be content in the midst of these situations. To be ‘doing good’ no matter how bad things get. I mean, look in the bible:

Paul said he figured out how to be content in any situation, then he backs it up by signing praises while chained up in a dungeon.

Joseph stays faithful to God while spending years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Job…I mean what can you say? This guy, in the midst of a specific and directed attack by the devil, refuses to curse God; despite the fact that he knows he didn’t deserve his treatment.

So we feel like we’re supposed to have a stiff upper lip, unquestioning blind faith, and above all, never to say thinks like ‘life really sucks right now.’

Having just completed a season - multiple years - of my life that pretty much felt like a barren wasteland, I have a new perspective on these times.

Here’s that perspective: you learn and grow way, way more during the times in your life where it seems like all the marrow has been sucked from your bones. When life seems to be only shades or gray, rather than vibrant color. When the soundtrack of life is more like fingernails on a chalkboard than a tuned up orchestra.

When life is good and well and easy, it’s pretty natural to coast.

I completed an offroad triathlon about a week ago. In the bike ride portion, there are some sections that are flat and easy. It’s hard for me to push myself to the breaking limit in those sections. Usually, I’m tempted to sit back and just pedal at a normal pace.

But in the sections that are steep, covered in loose rocks and dirt, filled with deep pits and large, sharp rocks that want nothing more than to wreck your bike, I don’t need any extra motivation to go all out. There’s no temptation to coast, because I can’t. The only way I can climb those insanely tough sections is if I give more than I thought I had.

Those are the parts of the race that ‘sucks’, and those are exactly the same parts that makes the accomplishment worthwhile. I don’t tell people about the easy sections later when I talk about the race. I talk about the parts that nearly broke me, but that I overcame.

I prove myself worthy by overcoming the hardest challenges the course can throw at me.

It’s the same in life. When, by God’s grace and mercy, you make it through the darkest days, the uncertain days, the days where hope seems to be a cruel weapon rather than the rope that keeps you from falling; those are the days that define who you are. Those are the days that strip away the things that are holding you back, keeping you complacent.

I didn’t want to spend two years of my life being refined and prepared. But as I am about to complete the transition into the life that I asked for, I see now that God did exactly what needed to be done. Only he knew what changes needed to occur in my life, so only he was qualified to put me in situations to bring those changes about.

In time, you will gain understanding as to why he has allowed you to bear the burdens which are in your life.

So when life sucks, please, remain faithful to God. I promise he is remaining faithful to you.

Getting Your Dream Job

You’re not going to want to hear this, but: God is not a way to pass tests you haven’t studied for.

God is not a way to get money you haven’t earned.

God is not a way to get your dream job without working for it.

“God has a plan for you” is something we hear so often, we can forget that we’re actually supposed to work for what we get.

The fact that you are a son/daughter of the king doesn’t mean that you can have whatever you want without earning it.

Whether you’re in school or you already have a family and work full time, you’re probably interested in working at your dream job.

Nobody wants to have to work at a job they don’t like in order to provide for themselves or their family.

Nobody dreams of getting a job that they have no passion for; where you feel like your time is being wasted on meaningless tasks.

We want to feel like we are accomplishing our purpose in our work, that we are using our God given gifts and abilities on a regular basis.

So when we hear, repeatedly, that God has a plan for our life from pastors and friends and family; and when we hear that we are a son/daughter of the king, it’s easy to start believing that God owes us a job that is fulfilling and that we have passion for.

You realize that he gave you passion and abilities in certain areas, so now it’s his responsibility to put you in a place where you can use them.

He equipped you and he called you, so now he owes you.

I call this attitude “Christian entitlement”.

I know that this world is temporary and one day it will roll up like a scroll as I will reign with God on high - therefore I am not required to live a life of meaningless tasks.

This attitude makes it hard when life presents us with unenjoyable tasks: going to a job that doesn’t seem like it’s important, taking a test to pass a class, etc.

But God isn’t a get-out-of-the-mundane-parts-of-life free card.

Do you want to work at your dream job? Then go to school and learn how to do what that job requires. Pursue any and every opportunity you can find to gain experience in that field.

When you get a shot, work your butt off.

I see so many Christians who are sitting around waiting for God to ring their doorbell and escort them to the job of their dreams one day.

I also see a number of Christian men who have refused to work a full time job and provide for their family because ‘they don’t like the jobs that are available to them’. This disgusts me.

I have worked a job that I dislike for years to provide for my family, while also working part time in ministry (which I do like) AND getting my Master’s Degree so that I could find part time work in the field where I want a career so I can earn my way into a full time job (this is still ongoing).

My wife went back to get her Bachelor’s Degree (and her Master’s) while pregnant and caring for two little kids, one with special needs.

Being Christian doesn’t mean our lives should involve refusing to work hard in order to get where we want, it means we should work harder, knowing that it is by our effort that we show ourselves worthy of an opportunity.

Rather than saying ‘this life is just a play and I don’t need to take it seriously’, we must endeavor to take it more seriously, knowing that we only have one chance to please God in this life.

When Jesus talks about building treasure in heaven when we live on the earth, do we think he’s joking? Do we think laziness and being adverse to working hard is what he’s after?

When the Israelites entered the promised land, Judges 3:2 says God left several hostile nations in the area to teach their children warfare. God doesn’t want soft, lazy Christians. He wants tough, strong, conquering Christians.

He wants a people that know life is a bull and how to grab it by the horns. Grace is not God’s Lay-Z-Boy recliner for us to sit around in, it’s God’s energy drink, empowering us to take on challenges bigger than we are.

Do you want your dream job? Don’t wait for it. Work for it!


Recommended additional resources on this topic:

Lessons From Leaving a Desk Job ( article)

Quitter by Jon Acuff

The God Formula

We all know the story of Job. He has to deal with some pretty bad circumstances: losing everything and getting very sick. He has some friends that show up to comfort him and (very pointedly) try to fix his problems. The problem with Job’s friends is that they thought they understood God. They knew how God worked. They had the formula memorized.

If you live right, God gives you blessings.

If you live in an impure way, God will come against you with judgement.

Job lost his wealth, his family and his health. This meant God was angry with him; therefore Job was living sinfully.

Job’s friends were trying to help him: repent of your secret sin and God will forgive you! But Job was insistent that he had not sinned.

But his friends would not - could not - believe him. Because if what Job said was true, then everything they thought they knew about God would be wrong.

Listen to what the youngest of the friends says as he makes one final attempt to get Job to admit to his wicked ways: “Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you.” (Job 36:4)

In other words, “I can’t believe what you’re saying, because I know I’m right.”

I was struck when I read Elihu’s speech (Job 32-37) that it includes some portions that are almost identical to what God says later (for example, that he commands lightning and snow).

Job’s mistake was thinking that God had committed an error.

Elihu’s mistake (and the 3 other friends) was thinking he knew exactly what God was doing.

Job, knowing that he hadn’t brought these curses upon himself through foolish living, was forced to conclude that God’s sovereignty allowed him to act as he pleases, and the only viable choice of humanity is to accept that. As Job says it, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)

I’d love to pretend that Jobs friends were the last people to make this mistake, but when Jesus shows up, he tells the religious experts in his day that they have made the same mistake of making God into a formula which they understood.

“You [The Pharisees] diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)

They thought they knew the formula, but when the the culmination of God’s design arrived, they didn’t recognize it in the least.  Jerusalem was destroyed because the time of God’s intervention arrived and they were blind to it. (Luke 19:44).

I think the fact that we think we have this whole God/Jesus/Bible thing down pat can turn us into monsters, too.

We have hundreds of different denominations (which are basically forbidden in 1 Corinthians 3) because we think all the other denominations are doing something wrong, and we are doing it right.

We spend so much time and energy bickering and in-fighting rather than fulfilling the purpose Jesus gave us. To be conduits of God’s Kingdom come and will being done on earth.

God cannot be put in a formula. He cannot be understood. He cannot be explained. We can only say the things he has told us to say. To speak of the things we see him do.

Paradoxically, it is only when we accept that we never fully know him that we can actually begin to connect with him in a greater way.


Remember the blind guy that Jesus heals, then the disciples ask whether he was blind from his own sin or his parents sin?  Then Jesus says it was neither of those things, but rather that “this happened so the power of God could be seen in him”? Then Jesus heals him. (John 9) And remember Job? How God allows the devil to do anything short of killing him to see whether Job will stay faithful to God in adversity? But instead Job insists that God is righteous and just, despite all that happens to him. Then God blesses Job with twice as much as he had before.

What if the challenges you face are in fact an opportunity for you to give God glory by having faith and trust in him even when there’s no evidence to support your actions? And God wants people to see you trusting in him when it seems stupid to do so, so that when he blesses you, everyone will say that God did it.

Maybe the challenges and trials in your life aren’t about you, but they’re about God. They’re about an opportunity for you to show that God is greater than the troubles we encounter on this earth.

The two men I talked about up top showed faith and trust in God and God honored them. Those events became scripture and have encouraged every believer who ever read them. Maybe God wants to make your life a living testimony to those around you. They may not read the bible, but in your life perhaps they can see it in action.

God deserves our devotion because of who he is. Period. Not because of what he does, but simply by being the God who made the universe and everything in it.  Worship God when logic says not to and see God respond and glorify his name in your life.