Have you ever had a situation or a set of circumstances in your life that shook your faith so hard, that thoughts of giving up on the Christian life crossed your mind? Ever had an attack from the enemy so ferocious, that it threatened to shatter your confidence in God into pieces? Ever been so low, the lowest you’ve ever been; in mind, soul, body and spirit, that you couldn’t perceive, sense or feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life? I believe every Christian has gone through such times and sadly, many do not make it. They give in under the pressure, they break under the weight of the cross they must bear, or some feel they cannot live up to the standard that God expects them to live up to. (I am in no way passing judgement on them or looking down on them; after all, I know nothing of their lives or particular circumstances.) It is at such times, at least in my own life, when I feel like God is asking me, like Jesus asked his disciples: “You do not want to leave too, do you?”
Jesus posed that question to his twelve disciples after many of his other disciples had deserted him because of his teachings (v. 60). He had taught them some truths about himself and his relationship with the Father that they couldn’t understand or comprehend, and so they left. Jesus didn’t seem much grieved about the matter. He knew beforehand that they would leave and it was at this point that he turned to the Twelve and asked them if they wanted to follow suit. Just before the other disciples deserted him, he had made the following statement: “no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (v. 65).Obviously those disciples that left had not been enabled by God to bear with the hard teaching that Jesus was dishing out. This led me to conclude that the Christian life can only be lived through God’s divine enablement.
The truth of the matter is; the Christian life is not an easy life to live. It is a life that calls for sacrifice, denying oneself of what one would normally want; not to mention going against almost every societal norm in our day and age. So yes, some Christian principles can seem too hard to practice and live by, especially when we find ourselves in trying times and have to practically live by the Word. When you have to tithe and give offering when there isn’t enough money to go around to begin with; when you have to genuinely forgive people who have hurt you so bad; when you have to love people who are so hateful towards you; when you have to be still and trust God when everything in you says act, even without the Lord’s guidance; when you have to be the light in a dark, dark world.
When such times come, it is as if they are challenging your Christian lifestyle. It’s like they’re almost taunting you, asking; are you still going to stick with this thing; are you still going to trust and obey God; are you willing to die for this? It is at that very moment that I look at the situation, I mean stare it in the face, and see all its ugliness and implications and remember Jesus’ question as if it is directed to me personally: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” I just love what Peter said in reply: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” If we can say these words that Peter said, in truth, from deep down in our spirit, in the midst of the anguish, confusion, uncertainty and fear, then we have won half the battle.
Because, when situations come against us in life, they are asking us; who are you, who’s got your back, who are you going to run to? We have to be able to say like Peter; there’s no one else but you Lord! No matter how difficult, demoralising or impossible our situations may seem, we believe and we know that you are God! Such an attitude is not achieved by the flesh, for many have tried to live this life in the flesh and have been lost along the way. It goes back to what Jesus said earlier, that it is only by the Father’s enablement that we come and abide in him.
It is my prayer that we learn to completely lean on, depend on and rely on God during the trials that are sure to come in our lives. Jesus said “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them…” (v. 44) and “no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (v65) So it would seem like to me, if God has drawn me to live my life in Christ, he knew that there would be storms along the way and so he also enabled me to abide in Christ, even in the midst of the storms. I pray that God strengthens us, upholds us and revives us when the harsh elements of this world threaten to swallow us. I pray that we will be able to boldly declare, like Peter, Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!