Home life has a way of arousing tensions, doesn’t it? From granular tensions such as whose day is it to clean the kitchen, to who gets to go the store with Mom, or which movie to watch; to moderate tensions such as which car to buy, or how to get through a disagreement with a spouse; to the most serious tensions job choice, whether or not to get married, or what house to buy. Ironically, I think we struggle more from the daily granular tensions than we do from the serious ones. Someone; a spouse, a child, a mother-in-law: people could be or will be upset with whatever we decide to do which makes any choice seem unacceptable leaving us indecisive.
Almost every decision we face places us in the crosshairs of complex and conflicting forces which raise tension, stress, and the wry if not resigned reflection, “Why can’t this be easier? Why does life have to be so hard!”
Inner and relational tensions come from living in a fallen world. But there are three positive sides to life’s tensions that I want to encourage you with today.
- Tension provides an opportunity to look at life from a godly perspective so that we can have joy. If we’re honest, we struggle to always remember God in our decisions, especially the most granular. Life happen so fast and we easily succumb to habit, whim, or someone else’s “wishes” er hmm, demands. If everything went the way we wanted, then we would have no need for God.
As Christians, we are sojourners, exiles, aliens because our real home is in heaven. Our primary allegiance to God is always challenged. If we’re living right, there’s a sense in which we should always feel tension on some level. Tension is a reminder that we need to look at situations from God’s perspective. As the Author of Life, he alone can tell us how to live joyfully in a sinful world.
- God is showing how dependent we are on him so that we can rest. As created beings, we all need outside help: God’s “help”. As The Creator and sustainer of life, we absolutely need God’s wisdom, understanding and guidance in all things. The rugged individualism that we prize in America exalts independence and self-reliance. In proper context and balance, there is value in these qualities. However, our flesh seeks to make these qualities ultimate and we easily carry these qualities over into other parts of our lives such as our spiritual walk and relationships often with devastating consequences.
All spheres of life require ultimate dependence upon God and his word. Tension is an accountability tool that calls us to examine what or who we are depending on. We can rejoice that God is a rewarder of those who seek, and hence depend, on him. When we depend on him, we can rest, even in distressing situations.
- God wants us to exercise our faith to apply his promises. In some cases, especially major decisions, we might cry out, “I want to do God’s will!” While commendable, God’s will is often not an easy decision that is made with complete clarity on all the factors involved—or the certainty of an ideal outcome. Seeking to make the right decision can also be a reflection of our own idolatry. We do not know the future, only God does.
Romans 8:29 tells us what the will of God is: conformity to the image of his son, Jesus Christ. Previously in verse 28, we read that God uses “all things” which includes good and bad, to accomplish his will. Life seems to teach us that we learn more from the situations that run the gamut from unpleasant to misery. They are opportunities to exercise our faith without which it is impossible to please God and to access the precious promises he gives us for life that carry us through tension.
Not every day can be a day at the beach. I’ve heard it said, “Live joyfully in the tension.” We can do that when we look at tensions from a godly perspective, accept that each tension reminds us our place a dependent creatures, and that each tension is an opportunity to exercise our faith.
Doing those three things may not make yours a day at the beach, but it will help you navigate the seas of life with resilient hope and the unwavering confidence that gives us peace and draws us closer to God.