I was just watching a show I like very much and in this episode, a man walked up to one of the main characters at a bar and asked him, “What if I told you that knowing Jesus will not only give you freedom from hell, but also freedom from pain in this life?”
My heart crumpled. How unfortunate. And what a sorry and lacking way to present the freedom of the Lord. I assure you, dear one, that the presence of Jesus does not mean the absence of pain.
To say that salvation and knowing the Lord is just to guarantee freedom from pain is a shallow untruth about a God who is so much bigger than we try to make Him. To know Jesus is not to be free from pain. It is to experience pain, deep pain, pain unfathomable. Your heart will ache and bleed in ways you could not have imagined before. You will hurt for yourself and your depravity, and if that is not enough, you will hurt for other people. Your own heart will be so tender and raw with compassion.
But to know Jesus is also to know joy. Life-giving. Joy unfathomable. Your heart will ache then, too. You will ache with gratefulness and wonder and amazement at what is in front of you now and what is to come.
To know Jesus is to know freedom. Freedom you cannot comprehend, but you will know it. You will feel it. It will be the freedom that lifts you up out of your bitterness, raises your head on the days that rub you raw, and reminds you that you are deeply loved and not bound to untruths about yourself and your worth.
I could go on and on and on. I am no good at evangelizing, though. I only know how to admit my sorry sinner status and love like crazy and give glory where glory is soundly due. And this evening, it is burning in my heart to tell you, dear one, that the Gospel is much more than the promise of absence. It is the promise of presence.