Recently I met with a good friend, one who is really struggling in their faith. He is questioning how God can be real, when it doesn't always seem like He has made my friend's life all that different.
Why is he still struggling with pain? Why are depression and anxiety hounding him? Why doesn't he always feel God's peace? Where is the abundant life God promises?
Looking in God's word, I was reminded that it is so much more than a feeling of happiness, though God gives us many moments of those too. God offers us something much more amazing - he offers us the chance to be set completely free from the crushing shame and guilt and sin that consumes us. He offers complete forgiveness of every single one of our sins, no matter how horrible, along with the hope of eternal life when we pass on from this life. Now THAT is abundant life, knowing that my sins are wiped away, that my shame and guilt is gone. Abundant life isn't based on a feeling, it's based on knowing that my life is now found in Christ, that I am no longer a slave to sin, that I am FREE!
Even if there are times that I don't feel it, I can absolutely cling to the promises of Jesus. 1 John 1:9 says "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness". Thank-you Jesus! Romans 8:1 says "There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus". Amen! What an amazing promise! He doesn't look at me any more and see sin and shame and guilt - He sees me clean and pure, covered in the blood of Jesus. I may not always FEEL saved - but I can state, over and over, the promises that Jesus loves me, that I am his, and that I am promised eternal life in him.
I can fall on my knees before Him in worship, knowing I've been made clean. I can lift my hands in surrender and know that God is holy. I can mess up, and know that I am forgiven.
We may still walk through the painful parts of life. We may still struggle with depression or anxiety or sickness or disease. We may fight with our spouse or our parents or our neighbors. We may grieve deeply over the loss of a loved one. But we know Jesus is walking right beside us. Hebrews 13:5 promises "I will never leave you nor forsake you". No matter what, he is there!
Now that's what I call abundant life! A Savior who is always with us, loving us even when we don't understand what is going on. A Savior who always forgives us, no matter what we've done. And the hope of eternal life, when we will see our loved ones again, and when all of the injustices of the world will be made right.
I encourage you to read through your Bible, and claim every single one of God's promises over your life. Lift your hands up to God in surrender, and remember that God is faithful, forever.