An Abundant Life is not Necessarily a "Happy" Life
The following text is an excerpt from the book, Revival’s Golden Key, written by Ray Comfort and published in 2002 by Bridge-Logos publishers. I read it nearly 7 years ago and was blown away by it such that I bought 10 copies and gave them away to whomever I could.
The Abundant Life
... True, the Christian life is full. Consider the life of Paul. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 and see if you think he was bored while being stoned (once), shipwrecked (three times), beaten (three times), and whipped (five times). His life was full. There were also times he wasn’t happy. In fact, at one point he was in such despair that he wanted to die (2 Corinthians 1:8).
The apostle gives the carnal-minded Corinthians a glimpse of the abundant life. He told them that he had been condemned to death. He was hungry and thirsty. He lacked clothing. He was beaten and had nowhere to live. Even with his established ministry, he was forced to work with his hands. He was reviled, persecuted, slandered and treated as the filth of the world. What a terrible, uninviting path Paul walked down. One would think that he would put up a sign saying, “Don’t enter here.” However, he did the opposite. He told the Corinthians to imitate him (1 Corinthians 4:9-16).
Where is God’s Love?
How was it, then, that the apostle Paul knew God loved him? As we have seen, he was whipped, beaten, stoned and so depressed that at one point he wanted to die. He was mocked, hated, shipwrecked, imprisoned for years and then finally martyred. What did he look to for assurance of God’s love for him?
He didn’t look at his lifestyle because, to the unlearned eye, it didn’t exactly speak of God’s caring hand for him. His “abundant” life was certainly full, but it wasn’t full of what we think it should have been, if God loved him. Picture Paul, lying half-naked on a cold dungeon floor, chained to hardened Roman guards. Look at his bloody back and his bruised, swollen face. “Paul, you’ve been beaten again. Where are your friends? Demas and the others have forsaken you. Where is your expensive chariot and your successful building program? Where is the evidence of God’s blessing, Paul?” you taunt. “What’s that? What did you say? Did I hear you mumble through swollen lips that God loves you?”
Paul slowly lifts his head. His blackened, bruised eyes look deeply into yours. They sparkle as he says two words: “... the cross!” He painfully reaches into his blood-soaked tunic and carefully pulls out a large letter he had been writing in his own hand. His trembling and bloodstained finger points to one sentence in particular. You strain your eyes in the dim light and read, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, emphasis added).
That was the source of Paul’s joy and thus his strength: “God forbid that I should glory except in the cross” (Galatians 6:14). Those who come through the door of seeking happiness in Christ will think that their happiness is evidence of God’s love. They may even think that God has forsaken them when trials come and their happiness leaves. But those who look to the cross as a token of God’s love will never doubt His steadfast devotion to them.
If the “abundant” life means something different from a “happy” life, who is going to listen if we are blatantly honest about the trials of living “godly in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:12)? Certainly not as many as are attracted by the talk of a wonderful plan. What, then, is the answer to this dilemma?
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