Panic began to sink in as I sat at my desk. An overwhelming, unexplainable dread gripped me from somewhere dark. As quickly as I had settled into my day at 4:30am I was now struck with few words and deadlines that refused to offer mercy. With a reluctant hand I started one task after another as my dog, unaware of the turmoil, squeaked her toy with enthusiasm in the corner. I couldn’t help but turn to look at her and smile at her very childlike innocence. She was enjoying life.
I quickly adjusted my focus to look out the window of my office. I will always love the way fall looks and feels. It’s one of my favorite seasons. In a moment, I am grateful. I curl my bare toes into the carpet under my desk where I had hours earlier surrendered my shoes. I then consciously make the decision to return to the calm that is mine as a child of God. I whisper a prayer and get back to work.
I feel like sometimes people look at Christians and assume that our lives should somehow be less complicated, less demanding, and less difficult. The truth is, we still experience loss, we struggle with insecurity, we become tempted and, yes sometimes we even fall short of what we stand for. We are human. We are not somehow exempt from life- all of life, the good and the bad. Our hearts have been broken. We have been angry, and we have said things we regret. But we are God’s, and it is in our weakness that His strength is magnified through the grace He pours on our lives. Like Daniel in the lions’ den, the lions are very real but God is with us (Daniel 6). Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, the flames are still hot but powerless over us (Daniel 3). Like David who had a historical affair but acknowledged his sin before God and received grace (2 Samuel 11-12), we are forgiven and, as forgiven children of God, we are not left comfortless (John 14:18).
Choosing to love and serve Christ does not change circumstances, it changes hearts. It doesn’t remove hurtful situations; it comforts us through them. So, in a lot of ways, life is easier for Christians, not because we live in a different world but because we live in the same world differently. So, even as I sit at my desk feeling the pressure piling on, I can feel joy when I watch my puppy, I can feel peace when I watch golden leaves fall, and, ultimately, I can get back to work feeling focused because God strengthens me.