When this title popped up in my head, the first thing that came to mind was the scripture where Jesus talks about our walk being a narrow path (Matthew 7:13). Naturally, I searched the verse, and upon reading, the word ‘narrow’ kept resounding in my head. So of course, I was intrigued. What was God trying to tell me about this word?
‘Thlibo’, translated as ‘narrow’ from Hebrew, literally means to afflict or to suffer tribulation. Interesting. I’ve grown up my whole life believing the narrow road was a set of strenuous rules and regulations to follow, else you’re going hell! So you decide to follow Jesus, (sometimes out of fear) and you backslide because what’s the point right? Although you’ve given your life to Christ and followed the necessary protocol, the enemy keeps coming at you harder. You lost your job; your mum died of cancer; you had a nasty break up; you’re depressed, life sucks and isn’t getting better!
Now you’re fully offended with God.
But you see the ‘good news’ was communicated to us as sugar, spice and everything nice..! Don’t get me wrong, that’s all part of it, but Jesus did not lead his disciples to believe a fallacy about this dark, cruel, evil, and manipulative place called earth. Rather, He told them; In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world (John 16:33). Jesus’ death does not imply the absence of trials, on the contrary, the day you decide to follow Christ, you become an official target of the enemy. He works overtime to steal your peace; kill your joy and destroy your faith in God (John 10:10). Have you noticed that just when you draw closer to God, that’s when real adversities come your way? Then you start doubting His existence like; “If there is a God, then why did this happen to me…?.. I’ve been praying, I’ve been fasting, I’ve practically followed the 10 commandments…! Remember, God sees everything, and He loves it. But again, it does not imply the absence of trials.
For instance, when the disciples faced a great storm, they panicked and rushed to find Jesus. Even though He was with them on the boat, they had no faith in Him (Matthew 8: 23-27). In fact, I can imagine them being so annoyed that He was actually there sleeping when they really needed Him. Parallel to us, today, when we face storms in our lives, we don’t trust the Holy Spirit to see us through. We panic, cry and look for Him as though He doesn’t live in us. And when we don’t get the response we want, we often get offended with God. Might it be that the Jesus in us will calm the storm once we find our calm in Him?
Romans 5 reveals that we have been justified through faith, and therefore we have peace with God through Jesus Christ. Therefore in times of trial, we should rejoice, because hardships produce perseverance, which builds our character, increases our level of maturity, and consequently, creates hope of salvation. This hope is literally the peace we feel in our hearts when praying through a storm. It is a blessed assurance from our never-failing Father, through the Holy Spirit, God’s gift to us.
So how do we make it right? Forgive God, and live for eternity. The Bible reminds us not live for this world (1 John 1:15) nor focus on earthly things, because Jesus died that we may have everlasting life (Colossians 3:2). Therefore, it is important to be aware that you cannot change the wickedness of the world, however, what you can change is your heart and mind towards it. Talk to God in prayer, relate with the Holy Spirit inside you, ask Him who you are, and what you’re here for. More often than not, we find our purpose in our trials.