Each week, we gather around our beat-up Ikea table with another couple. My guy and I try to make sure they aren’t sitting in the chair that’s threatening to break apart at any moment. (It’s happened to a friend before. Yes, we’re still friends—barely. But I digress.) Each week, we dive into Scripture, wrestle with hard questions, share about our days, and pray for each other. Our church calls it a Life Group because we do life together.
I’ve gotta admit, when I first heard the term, I rolled my eyes. “Life Group? Really?” I thought, “Do we have to give everything a new-agey feel? Isn’t it just a Bible study?” The answer? No, it’s not. It’s far more. It’s a chance to grow closer to Jesus. And it’s a chance for us to live into God’s call to be in authentic community.
We’ve done seasons of life without a Life Group, but we find we do life much better when we’re in one. Case in point: this past week, we were looking at the idea of whether God calls us to a comfortable life. Scripture after Scripture says no. In fact, He promises the opposite: hardship, suffering, persecution, trials, and challenges.
None of us really disputed this idea—all four of our lives testifying to the truth that, on this side of heaven, life is hard. Incredibly hard.
But then, we flipped to Jesus’s words in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” And it hit me—this abundant life He offers, it’s not in conflict with His promise of suffering. They go hand in hand. I’d argue they’re inseparable. You can’t have the fullness and abundance that comes from all out, total surrender to Jesus without experiencing the depths of your own brokenness and the pain that comes from living in a fallen world.
With my diagnosis, I know very well what may lie ahead. And it ain’t pretty. It’s all too easy to feel cheated and shortchanged—to feel I somehow got the short end of the stick. But as I look at God’s promise—an abundant life WITH suffering and pain—I realize that I’m actually not missing out at all.
This abundant life in Christ comes when we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. It comes when we abandon our own agenda and our own wants and surrender everything to the One who paid the price for our sin. It comes when we realize this time isn’t about us at all—it’s about Him, His glory, and being salt and light to a world desperately in need of a Savior.
Maybe you’re hurting right now. Maybe the circumstances of your life are simply too overwhelming and painful. Can I tell you something, friend? You can have this abundant life now—in the midst of your pain. Jesus can fill you up no matter your circumstances. When we begin to grasp just how long and how wide the love of Christ is for each one of us, we are set free to live His abundant life. Praying you would know that freedom and fullness today.
“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36