You read the title right.
It’s not a mistake.
I wrote that. There is a reason. You just gotta bear with me.
I think you can…
I grew up in Christian home. My parents are Christians. Both sets of grandparents are Christians. Jesus saved me when I was 6. I truly believe that. I remember the day. However, I didn’t truly learn the Gospel until about 9 years ago.
Before that I had done all the right things. I was active in church, in youth group, I traveled the world on missions trips, went to a Christian college, married a Christian guy, wanted to be like Jesus, read the books, sang the songs and went to the building and the whole time I didn’t truly know the Gospel. I knew how to act. I knew how to behave. I knew what was expected, but I didn’t know the Gospel.
You’ve probably read already, that we have a daughter with Down Syndrome that was a big surprise to us, my mother-in-law passed away a month before after losing a battle with stage 4 ovarian cancer, then 10 months later our son was born prematurely and passed away the following day, and there were a list of other things that kept beating us up as our second daughter was born less than a year after the birth of our son. My point in this summary is that, this whole time, I was thinking and wondering, “What did I do wrong to get this out of life? Where did I mess up, because I have done all the right things. I believe and THIS is what I get?” My gospel at the time was a gospel of Karma. I thought I was doing what God said to do, so I should be “blessed.” I shouldn’t have a retarded kid. I shouldn’t have hard pregnancies with bed rest and leaky bladders and spinal headaches. I should have a healthy normal life.
That isn’t life and it most certainly isn’t the Gospel.
The Gospel says, “You don’t have to do anything extra, I (Jesus) took care of it for you. I came to the Earth humbly, as a baby for THIS. I lived a life of pain and suffering perfectly, so that I could be obedient and die and defeat death for the hard and to give Hope and Grace and Peace and LIFE everlasting. Life is full of suffering and pain. I died for this. I conquered it already. All you have to do is believe. Believe that this is what I did for you. Nothing is out of my control. Nothing is out of my hands.”
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:16-17 (emphasis mine)
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (emphasis mine)
I had to take myself back to Sunday School. I believed that God created the world. I believed that Jesus was born of a virgin. I believed that He lived and died on a cross and rose from the grave, but I wasn’t secure in His grace for me. I wasn’t secure in His truth. I thought that bad stuff was happening because I had done something wrong. That I didn’t follow the Law well enough. I had to relearn that He is full of truth and grace. I had to learn that I CAN’T follow the Law well enough to get anything.That’s why God sent His Son to die in my place. I had to learn that hope and peace is not in how I am feeling, nor in the people around me, or in my circumstances. It is in the Person of Jesus Christ who IS the hope and peace for all the world.
A few weeks ago, Mike and I were talking and I asked him, “Why do people who love Jesus not talk about the Gospel? It is the only thing on my mind. The Gospel saved me these last 18 months. IT HAS SAVED ME!”
He said, “How did you learn the Gospel?”
“Through a lot of hard shit. A lot.”
“We learn of our desperate need for Christ in the hard, if we allow Him to teach us. We learn our desperate need for the Gospel. We learn that we can’t do this and that He had already done it.”
After The Accident, that grace and mercy has woken me up each morning and has put me to sleep each evening.
“The steadfast (hesed) love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Truth of the Gospel is a salve for the hurting heart. The Truth of the Gospel is the hope for the aching soul. It tells us that we don’t have to do anything to make it better, instead Jesus did it for us. He took all of the pain and hurt to the cross. It doesn’t mean that we won’t feel pain and hurt, but it does mean that we have peace because of it’s truth and we have hope for the end. The Gospel tells us that there is grace for our mess ups and we can’t do anything to make Him love us more. We cannot comprehend how much He loves us. He gave His Son for us.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:1-6 (emphasis mine)
I learned the Gospel through hardshit. I did.
A lot of life happens that we cannot control. Sometimes it is not anything that we have done, it was simply living in a fallen world. God is not always teaching us a hard lesson in life, not necessarily because of our sin (although we are all sinners fallen short of His glory Romans 3:23), instead He brings us to our knees in order to learn of His lavishing grace for us and that our hope is in Him and not in this world.
We learn the Gospel through the very very hard.
It doesn’t matter when the hard comes. It will come. Maybe you are in the midst of it. The loss of a loved one. Your children are in trouble. Your marriage is falling apart. Financial strain. A break-up. Even a home remodel or building a house. Starting a new business. Your children are stretching you. (Mine are.) Maybe you’re struggling with anxiety and fear. Your child is sick or has a disability. All of these things are overwhelming and hard. Jesus died for the hard.
The funny part is, is that I need to be reminded of the Gospel everyday. I listen to the Gospel in the morning while I’m getting ready, and by the time my lipstick is on I’ve started living in the flesh, rather than sharing the grace and love of Christ with my children before my first cup of coffee, I bark at them and tell them what they need to do better to please me. I come home and complain to my husband about an encounter with someone and how they need to be more like myself, and my heart has been full of pride rather than having a prayerful heart for a hurting friend.
I am in desperate need of something that has already been given to me. The Gospel. It has been given to all of us. It’s free. It’s even simple, but our hearts are easily swayed to what is going on around us, rather than what Jesus has already accomplished on the cross for us.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8: 1-2, 9-11 (emphasis mine)
Grace has been lavished on us. Grace has been poured over us through the blood of Christ. The burden is lifted, my friends. The burden is lifted. Because He bore that burden for us. Amen.