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When someone does something wrong, we want them to get what they deserve. But when we’re the ones who do wrong, we want mercy! Thankfully, Jesus shows us a God who does not give us what we deserve but offers us grace, no matter how little we seem to deserve it.
When you’re going through a difficult time, someone might try to reassure you by saying, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” But if we’re honest, we all have things we can’t handle alone. The good news is that God never expected us to handle everything on our own, and God helps us when we have more than we can handle.
Everyone wants to be happy, but our attempts to chase happiness often have the opposite effect—they make us miserable. While God delights in our happiness, God also has higher callings for us that are better and more life-giving than happiness alone.
We like to think that the things we pursue are freely chosen, but we rarely realize how much our desires are shaped by the people and media we pay attention to. In the final chapter of Philippians, Paul shares the secret to being content in all circumstances and living a life worth wanting.
The Christian life isn't something we do in private—it's a public act of living as a citizen of heaven, and it has serious social and community consequences. Being good citizens of the gospel kingdom of Christ demands higher standards for our behavior, and when we live this way, we can enjoy a common life of joy and humility.
We all need a supportive community around us, but a healthy, strong community can be hard to find. The early church in Philippi demonstrates what it looks like when we come together as people partnering together who are generous, content, and loving. By following their example, we can create that same kind of community today.
When we face challenges in the world, what we want is a pain-free solution, ease of life, certainty, and security. What we need, though, is meaningful work, community, and faith that God will take care of us in the ambiguity. When we trust God, love our enemies, and set aside selfish desires, we can be part of the world-changing work that Jesus is dong in the world.
We like to hope that in the crucial moments of our lives, we'll rise to the occasion. Unfortunately, what actually happens is that we fall to the level of our training and preparation. If we want to become more resilient, we have to train. An ancient Christian practice helps us as we train to become more resilient and more like Jesus.
In the midst of chaos, resistance, and loss, we often want certainty about the path forward. Unfortunately, most of the challenges we face can't be solved with easy answers. Instead of seeking certainty, we can grow stronger by practicing self-reflection, learning to become more adaptable, and growing in self-awareness so that we can be transformed as we grow in resilience and character.
If we base our identity on our success or others’ approval, we’re going to be in for a rough time when we fail or when others are upset with us. Instead, we can ground our identity in who God says we are: God’s beloved children. When we do, we can keep going even in the midst of stress, chaos, and loss.
We live in a world of anxiety and despair. How do we become resilient and holy (set apart) in a throw-away world of mass production? In a performance-driven world of grades and evaluations, it is possible to leave the chaos and burnout of a performance-based life and embrace the peace and freedom of a grace-based life.