Faith: The abundant life in adversity
Just as good is most clearly seen by us in the presence of great evil; just as character’s truest expressions are found in the deepest valleys; the abundant life is revealed in adversity. It may seem that the abundant life (or life of blessing) is best seen when all of life is rosy and peaceful, but I do not believe that to be true.
The word “abundant” is found only a few times in scripture, all in a context of God’s gracious blessings toward us. Biblically, abundance was never self-produced, but a gift from God given through relationship and dependance upon and with Him. Every reference I have found for abundance has been found in a context of people in trying situations.
The point is that Jesus’ abundance is not a bonus to lives that are generally doing well by themselves, but a necessity for persevering in faith. God does bless us materially, but His greatest, most enduring blessings, are eternal in nature.
The open secret to living in the fullness and abundance of Christ is the abiding presence of God.
“For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” – Psalm 84:10
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches.” – John 15:4-5
Just as the survival of a tree’s limbs depends on its connection with the tree, Jesus’ blessings flow from our relationship with Him. Many are familiar with the minister’s call to read our Bibles, pray, and meditate upon God. What is the point of those activities? To punch the clock and get our merit badge? No, a thousand times, no! Those disciplines are means to an end! The end of every spiritual discipline is to connect in a personal way to Jesus, to experience His active presence within our lives.
It is true that the Biblical God is omnipresent (at all places at once), but His active presence is different. Have you ever been sitting next to a loved one, but in your heart, you were a million miles away? I know I have been there. We can be the same way with God. He is present, but our hearts are a million miles away. This is not God’s desire for your relationship with Him.
I do not presume to know everyone’s story. This, for many, has been a season of loss and trauma, and to read about the “abundant life” may feel a little bit insensitive. That is not the heart of this pastor. I’ve personally experienced great loss and heartache during this time, but in the midst of these dark times I’ve also experienced the great emotional and spiritual healing of the Holy Spirit. I have seen the best in humanity in some of its worst moments. I have seen great love in the midst of great hate.
The abundant life in Christ can be had, but it is only found in the presence of Jesus, and it may look different than you imagine it looks. If you desire to find His goodness and His abundance, I want to encourage you to find Jesus’ presence.
If the abundance of God has seemingly been found wanting in your life, I plead with you, do not stay in that place of disappointment emotionally and spiritually. Purpose in your heart to find the active presence of God within your life, experience the healing of God’s presence and abide in the life-giving and abundant “vine” of Christ. If you have questions concerning this, please feel free to contact me.
Rev. Sabian Chaney, with the New Life Center in Hays, is a contributing columnist to the local church community's monthly ONE.