What is your idea of the ‘good life’? According to the lotteries ads on TV, the good life is one where you have your own island, can indulge any desire you have, and where you have no struggles. That is what many aspire towards. The problem is that this kind of life is not possible; we are always going to get sick, relationships will be difficult at times, and the unexpected happens. And even if life is smooth sailing for us, the lotteries-style ‘good life’ will prove to be ultimately unsatisfying.
And if your dream is to have the easy life full of comfort and with no pain, you will struggle to cope with things not going to plan. And you will constantly be discontent with your lot, whatever it is.
If you are a Christian who believes that all things come from God, this brings your relationship with God into question too. You will think it unfair if you don’t get the life you want, and wonder why God doesn’t tend to answer your prayers for life to be easier and more comfortable.
Let’s make sure that we see the world as Christians and not as Western materialists.
Jesus does not tell his disciples that life will be comfortable and easy. The opposite, in fact. Being a Christian will mean that people might oppose you and mock you. And that’s on top of being a sinful person in a broken world who will suffer pain, sickness, relationship problems, and hard work. And the Biblical record is of believers through the centuries who have had difficult times and even difficult lives – Jeremiah mocked and cast into a cistern, James killed by Herod, Paul stoned, shipwrecked and jailed. So our common goal of being comfortable doesn’t seem to be one God is focussed on.
Romans 8:28 says that for believers, God works all things for good. We tend to think that this means God is trying to make our lives easy now. Not so. What is good for us in eternity might actually be inconvenient now, or painful, or sad. It’s like medicine. Much medicine tastes bad and is unpleasant at the time, but if we need to take it for some sickness we are suffering we know it is for our good.
The Lord’s Prayer has a similar emphasis. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, most of the prayer is for God’s purposes to be done and God to be glorified. When it comes to praying for our needs, our daily bread is included along with our spiritual needs. Comfort and ease are not in the list.
So what can we do about this? We need to correct our expectations about life. When tough things come our way (and they will), don’t think about them as being unfair or as getting in the way of the good life. In some way, in God’s perfect plan, these things are good for us. Maybe God wants to teach us patience or reliance on Him.
This thinking will also help when the easy times come along. God blessing you in this life with wealth and possessions is unlikely to be for the purpose of becoming more comfortable and self-indulgent. Maybe God is giving you the opportunity to help others in need or support ministry to a greater extent. Maybe He is giving you the opportunity to become more thankful in prayer.
Whatever His reasons, let’s remember that the good life is a life in right relationship with God, not a life sitting on a beach with no issues. God is our heavenly Father who knows what is good for us and is working all things for our good; let’s trust that He knows what He is doing.