No guarantees for this life

Mar 5, 2018 by

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God doesn’t promise that if we obey him we will have an awesome life.

Nor a decent life.

Or even life itself.

Anneken Jans was a young heiress who chose to be baptized as an adult, an illegal practice in the Netherlands in the early 1500s. At age 28, after fleeing her country and losing her husband, she returned home for a brief visit and was arrested for singing hymns. As they led her away to be drowned for her faith, she begged for someone in the crowd to take and raise her 15 month old son — offering a full purse of coins to the baker who finally agreed to his wife’s chagrin.

She gave everything.

Money. Home. Life. Child.

And in my human logic, I expect God to take care of her son because of her sacrifice. Teach him the faith that his mother could not.

The son was successful — a wealthy brewer and the mayor of the town. But he never did accept the faith that his mother died for. He died penniless after his business failed.

God promised Abraham a son in his old age. Yet, after Abraham had finally received Isaac, God asked him to sacrifice Isaac on the altar.

God told Ezekiel to warn the people about the coming judgment. But he didn’t promise they’d like the message. In fact, he told Ezekiel he’d be rejected for it.

Heb. 11:35-38 describes the lives of many followers of God: “Some men were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection, and others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.”

And Jesus agrees that following Him is not easy: “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). He told the rich, young ruler to become poor; he asked his disciples to leave their jobs. And his own mother was told a sword would pierce her soul because of him.

While he did not give us any guarantees of wealth, achievement, fame, family or comfort, he did give other guarantees. Better ones.

“There is no one who has left house, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children, or fields because of Me and the gospel, who will not receive 100 times more…and eternal life in the age to come” (Mark 10:29-30).

“I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

And those promises are worth it.

Tabitha Driver is a Mennonite who loves glimpsing God’s goodness on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She blogs at Life is a Metaphor, where this post first appeared.

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