Posted by Pastor Jim Fikkert

“Life … is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.” 
| William Shakespeare, Macbeth


It is easy to live for others, everybody does. I call on you to live for yourself.   | Ralph Waldo Emerson


In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. | Benjamin Franklin

There is a popular notion that the only things that are assured in this life are hardships. The problem with this is that it makes you turn inward for any good. Life is not going to give you anything but lemons, it is up to YOU to make lemonade. If the only thing that is certain is death and taxes, you must create within the uncertainty…you are the source of your own happiness.

This worldview drives our culture, with millions of books sold, a prophet (Oprah), and a self-esteem meme campaign that scrolls across social media feeds constantly. The message is clear: if you want anything in this life, you have to go out and get it yourself.

The truth is, hardships are certain, but so is good. There is no way to avoid death and taxes, but these certainties are layered between grace upon grace. It is only the gospel that allow us to feel the depth of sorrow while giving us a lifeline (so we don’t get stuck there). The gospel provides for us a means of viewing the world that gives us a few more certainties, allowing our response to be based on a few more variables. The gospel prepares us for struggle, but also gives us HOPE to stand on. We saw a review of these this week in 1 Peter 1.2:

according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

We live based on the hope that God has a plan // While death and taxes are a reality, so is redemption and restoration. The limitations of this life are going to be relieved and we are going to be freed from them. We have hope that while hardship is part of God’s plan, it is not the whole plan.

We live based on the hope that the Spirit is working in and through ALL THINGS // Struggles are not just something to be survived to get to the end, but they are the means by which the Spirit is fulfilling the plan. We can suffer well, knowing that pressing into God in times of need (even great agony) results in our growth and His glory.

We live based on the hope that God means even the worst for good // The gospel is the story of how the murder of God produces life, turning around our concept of purposeless pain. God can use things in a way that make no sense to us for good. Rather than trying to understand it all, we can simply rest in Him.

We live in the hope of grace and peace // The truth is our desire is to live in pure goodness; our dissatisfaction of this world is that it fails so magnificently. Every once and a while we get a glimpse of what could be, just enough to make us hope again. That image is a taste of what is to come. We must live now in the hope of what is to come.

All of this allows the major swings of life to be buffered. Things are never so good that we don’t need God and never so bad that we declare it all hopeless. The struggle of this life is watching a good world suffering under the weight of sin. As we live our lives, experiencing both sides of this coin, we must lean in to the creator and perfector of our faith, believing that He is here and that He will give us the strength that we need to face whatever comes.