What If Life Doesn’t Have to be Pain-free to be Full? - Encouragement for Today - July 24, 2019

Niki Hardy

July 24, 2019

What If Life Doesn’t Have to be Pain-free to be Full?
Niki Hardy

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“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)

It’s either cancer or lymphoma. That’s what the doctor said. I was stunned into silence, or perhaps it was the anesthesia still coursing through my veins. All I managed was a faint, “Oh.”

A cancer diagnosis is devastating enough, but I’d just lost my sister to this awful disease six weeks before, and my mom six years before that. Had the heat-seeking missile of death now locked in on me? My mind raced and swirled.

Are you kidding me, God, after all I’ve done for You?
What have I done to deserve this?
Are You mad at me?
Where’s this full, abundant life You promised me?

Whether it’s cancer or something else, no one gets to skip the tough stuff. Our world can fall apart in an instant or unravel slowly over time. As a Brit — with a stiff and beautifully bleached upper lip — I was determined to keep calm and survive. I’m a Hardy by name and nature, but after chemo, radiation, surgery and more chemo, surviving a life I’d never planned or imagined was all I was doing.

Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came to bring us life, and life to the full. Yet so often, that abundance and fullness seems to be not just elusive, but a cruel joke. Really Jesus, abundant? Are You kidding me?

When we face a scary diagnosis, the strain of meeting the mortgage, aging parents, depression or yet another miscarriage, life can feel anything but full. Drowning in its storms, we’re left gasping for air, waiting for calm before we can live the life we’d planned and hoped for.

But that’s not what God’s Word tells us: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

During treatment, I met people who’d ditched the name “survivor” for its more hope-filled cousin, “thriver.” They didn’t deny that life had fallen apart, but they simply embraced the joy, connection, life and laughter to be found in its wreckage. I wanted to do that, too.

Jesus’ promise of an abundant life doesn’t come with small print, hidden requirements or deadlines. He came that we might have life to the full; that’s it. Period. His full, abundant life is available to us no matter our age, stage, wealth, gender, color or level of faith. God’s promises are true regardless of the severity of our storm or our ability to handle it well.

I wanted to escape the pain of suffering, and slowly, I learned that life doesn’t have to be pain-free to be full. The full life Jesus gives us doesn’t look like the glossy, happy-skippy, healthy, wealthy feeds we scroll through absentmindedly in the checkout line. Instead, it’s like small, uncut rubies buried in the rubble of our here and now.

Friend, Jesus made it possible for us to thrive, not just survive.

Can I invite you to shift your gaze from the constant search for calmer waters? Instead, look around you, even down at your feet amongst the pain, mess and pressure, for the rubies buried there.

We don’t need to have all the answers; we simply need to be willing. Willingness is hope, trust and faith all bundled into a tentative yes. A yes that says: “I am a thriver. I believe life doesn’t have to be pain-free to be full, and with God’s help, I’m jolly well going to grab it.”

He will meet you right where you are, saying: “I came so you could have life and life abundantly, so you could thrive, not just survive. Come on! Let’s go find it!”

Oh Lord, I want to live the full life You came to give me, but I’m tired and overwhelmed. Thank You for meeting me right in the midst of the mess and pain and for never leaving me. Lord, help me look to You and You alone to find an abundant life, and show me that with You, life doesn’t have to be pain-free to be full. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Romans 5:3-4, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” (NLT)

If you’re merely surviving a life you never signed up for, Niki Hardy’s new book, Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart, is for you. With a prayer and a set of questions at the end of each chapter, Breathe Again is part best friend, part spiritual cheerleader, part mentor and 100% down-to-earth. Find it HERE.

Niki believes life doesn’t have to be pain-free to be full, and she wants to help you live it, no matter what life has thrown your way. Follow her on Instagram for more encouragement, and grab her “10 Powerful Promises When Life Stinks” and other free, downloadable resources, here.

Enter to WIN your very own copy of Breathe Again by Niki Hardy. In celebration of this book, Niki’s publisher is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and notify each one in the comments section by Monday, July 29, 2019.}

If life’s unravelling around you at the moment, what’s one thing you could do today to uncover some of the rubies buried in its rubble?

© 2019 by Niki Hardy. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Revell for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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Originally published Wednesday, 24 July 2019.