In the book, “When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box,” John Ortberg describes a high-powered businessman who was running his company and trying to control every detail of his world. He writes that “only one microscopic detail escaped his attention. An artery that had once been as supple as a blade of grass was now as dry as plaster and as stiff as old cement.” He goes on to say that “every cigar, every pat of butter, every angry world, every irritation-filled drive in the car, every self-preoccupied thought had done its work. Quietly, efficiently, irresistibly, his body was preparing to do him in.” The man’s heart then skipped a beat, then another. As he clutched his chest in pain, his mind had clarity for the first time in many years. Ortberg writes these startling words: “Even though he sat at the top of a hundred organizational charts, it turns out he wasn’t even in control of his own pulse. Funny thing: thousands of employees on multiple continents would obey his every word with fear and trembling. But a few ounces of recalcitrant muscle brought him to his knees.”
Our lives can change in an instant. Even today, someone will go to the doctor for a routine check-up and receive news that will forever change their life. A parent will receive dreadful news about a car accident involving their child. One moment, the sun is shining and the next, the storm clouds are gathering. The question is not will we have to face such trauma; the issue is simply how will we live in light of knowing that one day we will.
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus intends for His people to enjoy an abundant life. We are meant to have a life full of joy, victory, hope, and promise. Did Jesus not know that there were disasters, cancers, thieves, and pain in this life when He made that statement? Far from it. In fact, just before Jesus makes His statement regarding the abundant life, He said this, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”
The abundant life is meant to be lived right in the midst of theft, death, and destruction. A follower of Jesus Christ is not one who is immune from struggle and pain; it is simply a person who has passed from spiritual death to spiritual life and can say as the psalmist did, “In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” The reason we can still enjoy the abundant life regardless of our circumstances is that “the Lord is with me” (Psalm 118:6).
Many who read this article are in the middle of a storm or perhaps just coming out of one (and if not, likely preparing to enter into one). You need to know that the presence of the storm in no way diminishes God’s love for you, His presence with you, or His promise of having an abundant life. One of the key things to remember during a struggle is to fix your eyes on Christ, not the storm around you. The abundant life is not a life without pain; it is a life of victory through the pain; it is not a life absent of suffering, it is a life of seeking and finding the gracious hand of God in the suffering.
Remember, we are not in control of as much as it seems. We need to hold tightly to the One who is in control and be encouraged that the God who rules and reigns is the God who has promised a life of abundance (overflowing with love, mercy, grace, forgiveness) to all who will trust in Him. Praise the Lord!