Side effects

As much as possible, I avoid the use of prescription medication. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I’m one of those people that experience side effects more often and more acutely than most. I can use nearly any list of side effects as a checklist should my health require the use of prescriptions. In most cases, the initial symptom is easier to endure than the side effects of the drug. As a result, I deal with chronic allergies instead of the nosebleeds, cough, fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, trouble breathing, and fatigue that come with over-the-counter nasal spray.

Now, I’m a more extreme case than the majority of the population, but most of us, in one way or another, have resigned ourselves to side effects and recovery time. A common cold may last just a few days, but the recovery of it can last a week or more. The same goes for the flu. A couple of days of being sick and medicated can lead to a week or two of recovery. We’re used to the idea. We expect it. And, whether we realise it or not, I think it’s had a dramatic effect on our faith.

“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

Luke 4:35 (NIV)

So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

Luke 4:49 (NIV)

These are just two accounts of many where Jesus performed a miracle. The miracles are incredible, but for now, look at what happened afterward. The demon-possessed man was freed without injury. Simon’s mother-in-law got up and started serving guests. When was the last time you were up and around doing housework the moment your fever broke? Probably never.

Here’s the thing about Jesus. Not only did he heal people, not only did he free them from demons, he did so without side effects. I cannot think of a single miracle in the Bible that required a time of recovery. Even Lazarus, dead for days, simply walked out of his tomb as though nothing had happened.

Our resignation to side effects and recovery time has stifled our faith. We pray just to get better and that’s good enough. But what Jesus has in mind for us is far better than good enough. It’s more than enough.

I think the possessed man would have been glad for a few scrapes and scratches, even a broken bone just to be free. Simon’s mother-in-law probably would have been content just to have a few degrees relief from her burning fever. Jesus didn’t just heal them, he made them whole.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10 (NIV)

There are no side effects in Christ. There is no recovery time. When Jesus does something, he gets the job done the first time. That is where our faith should be. You may have heard it said that good enough is the enemy of great. It’s true. We’ve adopted an Eeyore mentality, convincing ourselves that just enough is okay. But it’s not.

The Jesus we follow is the same Jesus who called Simon to cast his nets so they could be brought back up so full they nearly sunk two boats. The Jesus we follow is the same Jesus who first forgave the paralytic, then told him to get up and walk. The Jesus we follow is the same Jesus who not only rose from the grave, but conquered death itself.

So why are we settling for just enough when we serve the God of more than enough?

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17b-19 (NIV)

Read: Joshua 14-15, Luke 4:33-44 

Your lot in life

There are people I refer to as Eeyore Christians. You know, always depressed, pessimistic, gloomy. Glass half empty kind of people. These are the sort of people who may say that they’ve just accepted their lot in life. And they believe themselves to be of great piety as they say it.

But, guess what? These people are sorely mistaken! Too many Christians have taken that one small phrase from a larger portion of scripture and have used it to justify the fact that they refuse to work harder or find any joy at all right where they are. Accepting your lot in life has absolutely nothing to do with settling for a sub-par existence.

And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 (NLT)

Have you ever heard someone say that they just had to accept their lot in life and say it with joy? I doubt it. It’s usually with that Eeyore drone as though they are meant to go through life alone, unhappy, sick, and poor.

But there is nothing in this portion of Ecclesiastes that would indicate all of those things are our lot in life. It points to the opposite.

Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work—whatever they do under the sun—for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 (NLT)

Is poverty a gift from God? No! Is pain a gift from God? No! Is sorrow a gift from God? No!

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.

John 10:10 (NLT)

To accept your lot in life is to accept a life of fullness no matter where you find yourself. Life may not be what you thought or planned it would be, but that doesn’t mean that you have to slog through it accepting all the junk life may throw at you. To accept your lot in life means to trust that God still has a good plan for you. It means to look for the joy in the things you see and do every day. It means be thankful and grateful for today and all that comes with it. And, above all, it means enjoying life.

So go ahead, accept your lot.

Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have.

Ecclesiastes 6:9a (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 4-6, 2 Corinthians 10

His purpose

I am surrounded by fierce lions
who greedily devour human prey—
whose teeth piece like spears and arrows,
and whose tongues cut like swords.

Psalm 57:4 (NLT)

What would your response be in this situation? Sounds like a great time to break out into praise and worship, doesn’t it? Hardly, but that’s what David does.

Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens!
May your glory shine over all the earth.

Psalm 57:5 (NLT)

If not everything is going perfectly, if there is a hint of trouble, most of us would tend to believe that we are not within God’s purpose. Surely something has gone wrong, we’ve fallen out of grace and are bound for destruction. But think about this, if we were never in a position to get into trouble, would grace still exist? If everything were always perfect all the time, could God deliver us?

David is crying out to God for protection and, in the middle of it all, bursts out in worship. Even when his enemies have set a trap for him, he praises God with confidence.

My heart is confident in you, O God;
no wonder I can sing your praises!

Psalm 57:7 (NLT)

When we are confident in our God—the God we have a personal relationship with—we can, like David, worship even in the difficult times.

I cry out to God Most High,
to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.

Psalm 57:2 (NLT)

David had such a close relationship with God that, centuries before Jesus had a chance to speak the words, David had a great revelation of them.

The thief’s purpose is to steam and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.

John 10:10 (NLT)

David knew that, while the enemy was not of God, God would fulfill His purpose. And that purpose included good things, not bad.

He will send help from heaven to save me,
rescuing me from those who are out to get me.
My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.

Psalm 57:3 (NLT)

If you’re in the middle of a violent storm like David was, hold on to your confidence. Trust in your God and His plans and purposes for you. Work up the courage to worship when you’re surrounded by trouble. Remind yourself of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 56-58, Acts 28:1-15

The Lord gives.

How often have you heard someone say, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” If it hasn’t been those exact words, it’s probably been something similar. Now think of the context in which you’ve heard those words. I’ve heard them after someone’s house burned down. I’ve hear them after a child dies or a mother miscarries. I’ve heard them when disaster strikes.

I’ve heard enough of them.

Let’s take a look about what we know about God. God is a good. God is love. God is life. If you believe these things about God, then how can you believe that He would take good things away from you?

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?

Matthew 7:11 (NLT)

The more I think about it, the more I believe that people use that verse in Job as an excuse. If we can fool ourselves into believing that God did something bad to us then we have an excuse to distance ourselves from Him. Not only do we paint God in a bad light, but we also deny the fact that we have an enemy that would see us come to harm

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.

John 10:10 (NLT)

Do you think perhaps it could be just what the enemy wants when Christians blame God for the good things that have been taken away from them? The more people who are mad at God, the easier time the devil will have. The truth of the matter is that we do have an enemy and he really is out to get us. But it doesn’t have to end there!

Jesus came to give life in all its fullness. Do bad things happen? Yes. Did God do it to you? No! Let’s stop blaming God and start fighting back against an enemy who would see the church brought low believing in a God who would do the very things that satan himself has set out to do.

Keep this in mind: the devil takes, the Lord gives. Let’s be sure the right person gets the blame. If Job never blamed God, why do we?

In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.

Job 1:22 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Job 1-3, Acts 7:1-19