Every Christian, at some point, will come to an intersection in life and will have to decide if she will continue to love Jesus or if she will withdraw her heart and finish this journey alone.
Something happens which is incredibly painful and she has to decide what she will do about God.
The most well-known tragic case is that of Job. He loses so much, and then even his wife exclaims, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). His life was so terrible, the one closest to him threw up her hands in despair and advised him to give up and die. That seemed like the only recourse, the only honest way out.
Every Christian is presented with this option at some point. It may not be so stark, but every Christian goes through something hard and one option presented, either by a person, or by the Enemy himself is, “Give up on God; He’s failed you. Go on without Him.”
The Bible acknowledges this: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous…” And then there is the promise: “BUT the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Ps. 34:10.
So, you’ve been traveling blithely along and then, disappointment. Perhaps even though you’ve prayed for years, you just turned 30 or 40 or 50 and you’re still not married. Perhaps even though you’ve had friends interceding for that loved one, he died anyway and now you have to pick up the pieces. Perhaps you just lost your dream job or you have not yet found your dream job. Maybe you are experiencing the heart piercing pain of betrayal and you feel like bitterness is about to consume your soul.
You have three options. You can go straight ahead, hanging onto Jesus for dear life, clinging to him, refusing to let go. You can say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). You worship God anyway, through the pain and tears, as David did when his son died (2 Sam 12:20). You sob, rage, and howl, but at the end of the day, you realize there’s nowhere else to go; He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Your heart is hidden with God in Christ. You choose to love him anyway, worship Him anyway, trust him anyway.
If you choose this road, God will see you through the pain and will douse you with an anointing that will yield fruit in your life and in the lives of many. Your life will be scarred but rich, and as he did for Job, God will yet deliver you and bless you.
Or, you can turn left. The road to the left is the road without God. You trusted Him and He failed you and you’d rather finish this life on your own terms. You turn your back on Him and let the bitterness take root in your soul. You choose methods of coping that don’t include God. For a season, this may seem to work, but the end result is a life without your Creator; this can appear good for a season, but in the end, your life is barren and your destiny unfulfilled.
Or you can turn right. The right turn leads to a life with God, but your heart is ever guarded. Instead of throwing yourself into His arms, you hold yourself back and give him only a portion. You choose a more staid faith, a less radical church, a more safe theology a more sterile Christianity. You are still heaven-bound, but you make more rational decisions; all traces of zeal are gone, and where you used to worship God with abandon, now there are limits, a line which you will not cross.
It’s like you’re in a luke-warm marriage: you don’t divorce, but you’re not transparent, vulnerable or passionate any more. You co-exist in civility, but you are no longer in love.
The people we most admire, whether they are great preachers or the friend next door, are those who took the first path, those who set their face like flint and pushed through the valley of the shadow of death. Those who held onto their faith like tenacious bulldogs and would rather die than face life without God. Those people are deep, real, strong and wise. They have found contentment, despite life’s afflictions and we feel honored when they spend time with us. We want to be like them, but we don’t necessarily want to go through what they went through to be so refined. I’ve known a few such saints and I am a better person because of them.
I cannot say I have ever gone through something deeply tragic; I hope I never do. But there have been several times in life when I struggled to keep going and I considered throwing in the towel of my faith. But the Holy Spirit did for me what He did for Peter: he confronted me with the reality that I had nowhere else to go. I was ruined. There was no way I could go on without God. It was life with him, or no life at all. So I just pleaded, “Fix me, Jesus, fix me.” And God did, indeed, fix me; He saw me through that valley and brought me to the mountaintop. The Lord is a deliverer; he delivered me from pain and disappointment, and He wants to do the same for you.