I recently met with someone who has impacted the lives of millions of people in a positive way. He said, “You know, it’s a fortunate coincidence you were the first appointment today because it feels like my life doesn’t make any difference. Anybody could sit in this seat, and the outcomes would be the same.” After listening for a few minutes, I said, “With all due respect, that’s just a lie.” In ninety seconds, I could give him evidence that his decisions had made an enormous amount of difference in a significant number of lives. I didn’t have to be creative or disingenuous—I just gave the facts.
As I left that meeting, I realized that’s the same tape that plays in my head, far too frequently: “What difference do you think your life is making? What good are you doing? This is harder than it should be. You don’t have to do this. You could do something else.” Have you heard those kinds of messages, too?
Disappointments are a part of everybody’s journey. Despair—disappointment that settles over you—seeks entry points, and it begins to cloud how you see everything around you. Weariness is also a frequent caller, and if you’ll answer the call, he’ll move right in, convincing you that you’re tired beyond belief.
We can learn a lot about adversity and God’s faithfulness to us in troubled times by studying His relationship with Israel and the Jewish people. You won’t find the absence of suffering, hardship, or difficulty. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. In spite of Satan’s opposition and resistance, God continues to bless those people because of a covenant He made with them—and that covenant extends to you and me. If we’ll turn our hearts to Him, and listen to Him, He will bring relief and freedom to our lives, too.
Israel also points to another truth: Being a person of faith does not remove you from difficulties. I have found for my own self and my own heart, I need to have a remedy because, otherwise, disappointment and discouragement can cause me to lose my momentum. One of the best things I know to do is to focus on Jesus, turning my attention to the One who can deliver, the One who will reign triumphant over all of His adversaries, the One who is my friend.
Jesus tells us in John, chapter 15, verses 15 to 16, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”
Jesus calls us His friends, and reduced down to its simplest statement, that’s my life goal: to be Jesus’ friend. I want to live in such a way that it’s evident I am His friend. Being His friend means approaching Him with respect, dignity, and reverence. It also means doing what pleases Him and recognizing the honor of having time with Him.
When you see Jesus, will He recognize you as His friend? Not by your declaration, but by the evidence of your life—your calendar, resources, attention, goals, and willingness to yield to Him—does how you conduct yourself in all of these arenas suggest He’s your friend? If you’re afraid of truly treating Him like a friend, then tell Him the truth. Say, “Lord, I’m afraid if I really yielded to You, there are some things about my life I would need to change, and some of them I like. Would You help me?” He will respond!
Another component of being Jesus’ friend is being willing to take Him everywhere you go. There was a season of my life when I participated in classrooms and business settings that didn’t want Jesus to be mentioned. They said they wanted to be respectful of everybody’s beliefs, but that’s not true—they actually wanted to diminish the presence of Jesus. Today, those same places are pushing a worldview that stands in opposition to my biblical worldview, but they aren’t worried about being disrespectful to my beliefs.
My position today is this: I won’t apologize for my friend, Jesus. He is not a force for wickedness or division. He’s the greatest opportunity any human being will ever have. Jesus has changed me! Once I was an enemy of God, but now, because of what Jesus did, I have been reconciled to Him. I want to be on the record in Heaven, and Earth, and under the earth, and anyplace else they’re keeping a record, for saying, “I’m for Jesus!” How about you?
We live in a season where there is tremendous turmoil and confusion, and I think our circumstances will intensify before they get better. I would encourage you to be aware—watch, listen, think, and act—but also focus on our Friend. Become so full of who He is and what He can do, that our challenges become secondary. As we draw close to Him, He will lead us through.
Onward in Him,
Pastor Allen Jackson