An Imperfect Life - Encouragement Café - February 23

An Imperfect Life
 By Katie Harmon

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.  John 16:33 NIV

I live in a fairly big city.  It’s fun.  There’s always something to do or somewhere to go or some show to see.  It’s also kind of stressful.  The continuous hum of activity, the pressure to be “big city” successful weighing down on everyone, the traffic – that part’s not so fun. 

There are A LOT of people here – young people mostly – and it seems to me like they’re all out running around pretending they know what they’re doing, when really they’re all just groping around in the dark looking for something to hold onto.

They go to yoga classes like it’s their job.  They read books on self-improvement, decluttering, self-esteem, minimalism, spiritualism, feng shui, and finding joy.  They’re searching.  They’re searching for a perfect life…a perfect peace.  They’re searching for a peace that I have found in Jesus (and I hope you have as well).

But interestingly enough, I read those books too, and I’m not alone.

Recently, there has been a wave of best-selling Christian-authored books claiming to have the magic cure to all that ails you, claiming that if you just believed / trusted / prayed / surrendered / confessed / repented / fasted / washed / did more (or differently) all your problems would disappear.  They claim to offer what all people (Christians included) seem to be looking for so desperately – an easy struggle-free life.  They claim that if you would just *fill in the blank* your life would be perfect.

Allow me to clear up the misunderstanding: It would not.

It does not matter how much you believe, or pray, or repent, or do… your life will not be perfect. That does not mean you shouldn’t do those things or that some of your problems or parts of your life wouldn’t get better because of them.  In fact, I can confidently say that all those things would better your life.  But they would not, and cannot, make it perfect.

That’s because life, on this side of eternity, can never be perfect. 

Even the Perfect Man, who lived a perfectly sinless life, did not live a perfect life by our current definition of the word.  It was not easy or free of struggle. 

It was, in fact, quite the opposite. He was homeless, often hungry, and (by today’s standards) unemployed.  He was an outcast and, at one point, a refugee.  He was harassed, mocked, and finally executed as a political criminal.

Not exactly my picture of an ideal life.

Jesus never promised us a perfect or easy life.  He promised us that “in this life you will have troubles” (John 16:33).  He promised us that we would have to carry our own cross (Luke 14:27), suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12), and “face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).

You will experience hardship, health scares, financial struggles, stress, and loss, because perfection is not available here.

But take heart! Though we may not have been promised a perfect life, He has promised us an eternal one.  He has promised us a perfect salvation and a perfect peace.

I give you peace; the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give. So don’t be worried or afraid.  John 14:27 CEV

Though the promises we’re offered don’t include the world’s definition of a perfect struggle-free life, we are promised a much greater peace.  We have the certain knowledge that our eternal soul is safe in Him, and that is “a peace that surpasseth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7 KJV).

If you have been searching for a perfect life, I have bad news for you.  It isn’t out there.  But if you’re looking for a soul-quenching peace, you have to look no further than The Prince of Peace.

Jesus, We come to You so far from perfect.  Remind us every day that any and all perfection available to us is only ever found in You.  Forgive us when we forget, and bring us ever closer to You. In Your Name, Amen.

© 2019 by Katie Harmon.  All rights reserved.

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Originally published Friday, 23 February 2024.