The other day I found myself thinking back to a particular moment in my life, about 3 years ago. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you might know that from the summer of 2008 to November of last year, I battled through a kidney disease. While most people don’t expect to deal with a severe illness in their early twenties, and though the disease took a toll on my body, the whole ordeal didn’t come without God still finding a way to teach me things through it. Which brings me back to this particular moment in time.
It was maybe a month or so after I first landed in the hospital. Part of the effects of being hit so suddenly with this disease was that I found myself utterly depleted of strength. Climbing a flight of stairs became akin to scaling a mountain, so standing for any length of time was out of the question, which in turn meant I could no longer serve on the worship team.
Having been a musician for the majority of my life, music has always been my direct connection to God. When I play, I feel Him, and that’s always been constant. But in an instant, everything changed and that was no longer an option. So there I found myself, sitting in church on a Wednesday night, too weak to even stand to sing, watching the worship team that I’d been a part of for so many years on stage, and tears started rolling down my face. And it was in that moment that I realized something:
I am not indispensable.
It’s Not About Us
Okay, I know what you’re thinking, that’s really depressing. But just bear with me for a moment because I assure you that realizing that, at least in my life anyway, turned out to be a very good thing. Because here’s the thing, when it comes to the Christian life and our walk with God, I think we very easily make it all about us. And the truth is, that’s really not what it’s about it all.
Everyone faces problems. It is a fact. So I hate to break it to you, but just because we have Jesus in our lives doesn’t mean that it gives us a “get out of jail free” pass. And the thing is, I think sometimes we as Christians operate on this strange belief that nothing bad should ever happen to us. So when something does, we whine, and we cry, and inevitably we ask “why me?!”
But perhaps we’re looking at things the wrong way. What if in the process of having to deal with hard, painful situations in our lives, it’s really an opportunity to point back to Christ? What if instead of making it about us, we made it about Him?
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
Out In The Open
The tricky thing about being Christian and trying to reach others around us is that we often fall into the trap of trying to do everything ourselves. I don’t know why, but somewhere along the line it seems like a lot of us get it into our head that being Christian means getting it all together, living the quintessential “perfect” life, and somehow because we’re perfect, others will want to be with us, ie follow Jesus.
I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with wanting to do well and have a good life, but when we get caught up in being “perfect”, the truth is it mostly comes across as fake, and let’s face it, no one likes fake. So why does God allow difficult things in our lives even after we’re in a relationship with Him? I think one reason is because it forces us out into the open.
Tough situations make it hard for people to hide behind seemingly perfect exteriors. In my case, it was impossible to hide swollen legs or the fact that I couldn’t stand up for longer than 5 minutes. But somewhere, in the midst of all the pain and struggling, came a willingness to be raw and vulnerable with those around me. And suddenly in all my brokenness, it seemed like my faith came shining through.
“That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
Getting Out Of The Way
I say learning that I wasn’t indispensable was a good thing, because it taught me to stop trying to pretend that I had it all together all the time. In other words, it taught me to be transparent with people.
The scary thing about living a transparent life is that with nothing to hide behind is, we present ourselves flaws and all for the world to see, and possibly pick on. But by choosing to be genuine, we get ourselves out of the way, letting people see Christ in us and therefore truly reflecting His glory to those around us. Then, and only then, can we be called salt and light to the world.
So here’s my encouragement today: If and when you’re going through a hard time, don’t hide away from people. Instead, consider sharing (as much as you’re comfortable) the challenges you’re facing and your journey with God through it all. People around us need to see that God is a God who sticks with us through the rough times, and you never know how your story might impact someone else.
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org