There is a song that my old church used to sing that really frustrated me when we sang it.
It’s called ‘At the Cross’. This is by no means a condemnation of my church. I just really don’t like the song. The chorus was as follows:
At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day
Some of this is good. In fact, I would argue that the first three lines are solid in regard to theology. However, when we would sing this song in church, I would personally stop singing once we got to that fourth line. This isn’t because I have no joy in my life or that I’m not happy to be a Christian. The opposite is true. I’m so grateful for all that God has done for me.
That last line, though, really gets to me. To say nothing of its forced rhyming and antiquated language (no one, in normal speech, uses the phrase ‘all the day’), the sentiment expressed is utterly false. It espouses this idea that, because someone is a Christian, there is the ability to be always positive about the circumstances of life, as if hardship and suffering cease to be a part of the human condition upon believing in Christ. This is foolishness. More than that, I think it’s dangerous. It’s potentially selling a false bill of goods.
Jesus does not promise to alleviate hardship in this life. In fact, He does the opposite. He assures His followers that suffering and hardship will come. What He does do, however, is promise hope in the midst of suffering and a future relief from the struggles of life for His followers. He does take away burdens, so that aspect of the song’s chorus is accurate. However, there is no guarantee of happiness because happiness is a fleeting emotion. I may have joy in Jesus, but that doesn’t mean that I’m always going to be happy in my circumstances. This may seem like semantics, but it’s an important distinction.
I bring up this song because, honestly, I can’t say that I was particularly happy as I was writing ‘The Struggle (with Faith) is Real’. Does this, alone, make me a bad Christian? I admit that there are things in my life that one could argue make me a bad Christian, but I can say with confidence that this is not one of them.
Nor is this the case for anyone else who is having difficulties in life. For some, even getting out of the bed in the morning is a struggle. To act flippantly as if this is not how it should be is demeaning to those for whom difficulties are a daily reality.
For those who are genuinely suffering with hardship in any form, I can’t promise you instantaneous relief in this life because that’s not what Jesus promises. He does, however, offer hope, grace, and strength to battle whatever circumstances you may be facing.
This will serve as a companion piece to another post, ‘The Struggle Continued’. I wrote them initially as one piece, but it was far too disjointed and didn’t flow. There is some overlap between them, so I’m publishing them as complementary sister posts rather than as one.
A pilgrimage is an intensely personal journey, but it is not one that a pilgrim undertakes alone. I don’t want to ‘talk’ into a vacuum. I want to hear other voices, too. What I’m trying to say is, I want feedback! Have I spoken something to you? Is there something you think I should know? Do you have a question about something I said? Please leave a comment below or contact me at Pilgrim.Brett@gmail.com
Also, follow me on the Pilgrim Shelter Facebook page to stay up to date on any new releases and for information about future posts.