Now that I’m about to wrap up my third year of undergrad, I’m thinking hard about what I want to do for the next (potentially) 10 years of my life. Some of the decisions are up to me, and some of them aren’t. Will I apply to grad school? Will I try to find a job? Will I get married? Will I be able to get into grad school? Will I be able to find a job?
So it’s not surprising that with all these questions in my head, thinking about the future brings me deep anxiety that seems to surpass any praying, hoping, and mentally reassuring that I try.
But today, I attended an intensive at my church, where we talked about intimacy with God. Part of our talk involved trusting in God–in all things. After the sermon I was able to spend time reflecting on parts of my life where I refuse to surrender to God. Naturally, the future was one of my first thoughts. But God takes care of me, right?
And then I realized that God promises that a life of following him isn’t easy. It involves trials, persecution, and hardship. But he takes care of me, right? How can that be part of taking care of me?
Unless……unless my perception of God’s care is wrong. Unless my understanding of God’s love is completely off base. Unless I have misunderstood the kindness and grace of the Good Shepherd to be purely a shower of material blessings to make me comfortable.
Paul writes in Philippians 3:8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
What if placing my trust in God meant that I gave up everything? What if his love and care meant giving me more than the material comfort I always wanted? What if God’s blessing meant that I had fullness of joy in Christ, instead of a big house with a white picket fence?
For years, I now know, I have been worshipping the idol of comfort. I have assumed that God’s love manifested as material blessing and wealth. I realize that if God’s blessing and God’s love is merely material, then my God is not great at all. His love would be shallow and pathetic, ephemeral and transient. But no.
My God’s love is deeper, wider, longer, higher than a white picket fence. My God’s love is stronger than the grave. His care for me doesn’t manifest as money and ease in this life, but as riches and joy beyond comparison in the next. His gift to me is his son, who came to die for me. His gift to me is life, and life abundantly. His gift to me is fullness of joy as I enter into his presence.
Yes, I hope for a happy life, a successful career, and comforts of financial security. But God’s plan is so much larger, so much more beautiful than that. What if his love was worth more than the big house I always dreamed of? What if his joy was deeper than the one I could find in marriage? What if his comfort transcended the comfort of my chocolate and Netflix?
I had a small view of God and his kindness. His care ensures the comfort of my soul for all of eternity. His love covers my darkest, ugliest sins. His joy transcends any circumstance I may find myself in. Now that sounds like a God worth trusting in.