Now Above All, We Must Trust in Jesus No Matter What
I’m typing this inside Panera Bread near Dayton, Ohio. It’s almost noon, and the place is strangely quiet; hardly anyone’s in here. Those who aren’t actively eating or drinking are wearing masks and keeping their distance from each other.
If I’d dreamt up a scene like this at the start of 2020 I’d have woken up in a cold sweat. It’s a living nightmare. The crazy thing is how grateful I am to be here: It’s my first visit to a coffee shop in months.
We’ve been living a genuinely bad dream, multiplied now by the anger, protests, and violence following George Floyd’s murder, which has opened up a raw wound across the whole world.
But when is it going to start getting better again? Did I mention they’re predicting a stronger than average Atlantic hurricane season this year? Do we remember there’s a U.S. election coming? And let’s not forget how Australia was ravaged by fire this year, and locusts are destroying food crops in much of Africa and India.
So you can hope for things to improve, but this is not the time to count on it. This is the time to get in practice instead — practice at the one life skill that will carry you through in good times or bad. It’s the skill of letting your life, your mind, your hopes, and your heart focus on Jesus, no matter what.
Jesus is Worthy
Jesus is worthy of that focus. He’s the one human in history worthy of our worship, for He is the only one who was also God. As for me, though, I had almost become too used to that doctrine. I accepted it as a teaching, to be sure, and if you’d asked me I’d have said I worshiped Him.
Not until I got into researching and writing my book Too Good To Be False, though, did I really begin to grasp just how extraordinarily worthy He is. He lived the one fully perfect human life that’s ever been lived: a life truly for others, an astonishing blend of authority and humility, of brilliance and simplicity, of sacrifice and joy. My worship of Jesus moved from a matter of doctrine, to falling on my face gladly before Him and crying out, “Jesus, you are my God!”
He Supplies Our Needs
He’s the greatest leader of all time, and He has the greatest resources to offer: joy, peace, love and hope, no matter the circumstances. And eternal life to cap it all.
The apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote his letter to the Philippians, a letter suffused with joy because its author was filled with Christ. He wrote,
It is my eager hope and expectation that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Phil. 1:20-21)
We Can Be Confident In Him
If one thing has become certain in our world lately, it’s that nothing is certain — nothing but the word of God and His promises. My favorites: “Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5), and “I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (or “the end of the age”) (Matt. 28:20).
Millions of Christians have counted on Jesus’ promises, and have not been let down. But His word secure from the beginning, when he died and rose again — a historical fact of which we can also be confident, for the evidence supports it firmly.
And forgive me for returning to my book again, but as I’ve written in it, the story of Jesus itself tells us His life and promises are worth counting on. It’s no mere story, you see; it’s too unique, too consistent, and too good for that. None like it has ever been conceived, and it’s inconceivable that this would be the single exception — especially by way of the distorted story-building legend-growing processes the skeptics suppose. Jesus is literally too good to be false.
Jesus, No Matter What
He’s worthy, he supplies what we need, and we can count on it. That’s enough to bank on. That’s enough to rest our whole lives on.
The world is trending in a direction where we may be forced to prove how true that is. This bad dream we’re in could get better, sure, but it could get worse, too. Which will it be for our communities, our churches, our lands? No one knows, though as I read events, I suspect we’re at a dark tipping point, the kind at which civilizations totter and fail. Whether that’s true or not, the one thing certain is the faithfulness of God in Jesus Christ.
And suppose the world became suddenly easier to live in again after all. Individual lives go their own directions, too, some of them better, some worse. Which will it be for you? And how will it end for you? Here there are two things certain: The inevitably of death, and the faithfulness of God to carry you even through that.
Are you ready to rely on Jesus, no matter what? Now’s the time to get in practice. Now’s the time to be sure you’re pursuing Him with all you’ve got, so you can say yes to that question — no matter what.
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the forthcoming Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.