Here’s a question for each of us: What do we have a lot of? Let’s not limit this to material goods that we possess a significant number of (otherwise, my household would probably have to say something like Lego bricks or video games). No, let’s think bigger:
What do we have an absolutely overwhelming, inordinately large quantity of?
What do we have more of than we need or could reasonably use up ourselves?
If you have lots of kids, your answer to the first question might be “noise” (or “tiredness”). If work is currently overwhelming you, maybe the answer to the second question is “things to do”. If you find yourself recently unemployed or retired, you might feel like all you have is “time”. For some of us, I fear that the answer would be “pain”. Whatever it may be, when we have an abundance of something that we don’t want, these become the things that just pile up and become overwhelming, like opening your front door and finding 9 feet (or, for our friends outside of the U.S., 3 meters) of snow. At some point, there’s just not much you can do to clear things out.
When we find ourselves in these circumstances, a bit of perspective often helps. Few of our challenges in this world are as big as they seem from our vantage point. When I’m waiting behind a semi-truck in a traffic jam, and can’t see ahead, my problems may seem insurmountable. On the other hand, when I’m looking out of an airplane window from the sky, I can see all of the cars who are speeding up after having cleared a slowdown.
Furthermore, there are sometimes things that we can do in order to address these challenges. I know that these answers aren’t always readily available, but when we can do something to get out from underneath an unnecessary burden, I hope that we will not reject the opportunities that God provides for us.
However, there is an even better solution. There is a way to have life itself – in abundance. Not just “existence”, “getting by”, “making it through”, or “turning the crank”, but living our life to the fullest. Jesus offers that kind of life to us:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
John 10:10 NASB
To be clear, this may not look like the life we think we deserve. It will probably not consist of sitting on a boat with a line in the water every day. All of those “unpleasantly abundant” things that we have a lot of in our lives won’t necessary go away.
However, Jesus offers us the following elements that make life worth living:
- Freedom from death: Our mortal bodies may die (if we are not delivered directly to meet with Jesus, should we still be walking this earth when He returns), but the sentence of eternal death – separation from God – was overcome by Jesus. If we will accept His sacrifice as a gift, believe in Him, and walk with Him in charge; we no longer have to trudge forward with our head down, burdened with the knowledge of an ultimate demise. (See Romans 6:23.)
- Hope: We have something to look forward to. Sometimes, when I’m at my lowest points, I don’t necessarily need an immediate way out; I just need to know that there is a specific time when things will get better. (See 1 Peter 1:21-22.)
- Purpose: God has an overarching, universal plan, and there is a role for you in that plan. Some days, your part may be to labor (even at something that doesn’t look very glamorous), but when that work becomes part of an epic accomplishment, it has meaning and value. (See Jeremiah 29:11.)
- Family: It’s not always a Norman Rockwell holiday dinner scene when the adopted children of God get together, but the rights and privileges of being part of God’s family outweigh the idiosyncrasies of some of our brothers and sisters. That’s important, because God’s blessings to His family outweigh our own issues, as well. (See Romans 8:14-17.)
- Reward: While the gift of spending eternity with Jesus is far greater than we could earn or ask for, the Bible also talks of rewards. Jesus mentioned this at least three times in just Matthew 6, but see also Matthew 5:11-12.
So, even if you have a lot of troubles weighing you down – if your problems are right in your face and blocking out your long-term view – I hope that you will find the abundant life that Jesus offers. He didn’t casually allow this to happen; instead, He paid for this possibility with His own life, so that we could live with Him – not just here on earth, but also through eternity in Heaven.
It is my hope that you will find and experience this abundant life that Jesus offers. I can’t fully explain to you the positive difference that it can make, but it is there for you to find out for yourself, if you are willing to follow Him.