I heard a song on the radio the other morning- "Jesus Bring the Rain" by MercyMe... and the chorus of it really struck me...
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain
I was really humbled by this. I am quick to pray the "bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free" part... Of course, that's human nature! "God, please make my life happy and comfortable." I do okay with the "Bring me anything that brings You glory" part... although sometimes, when I get so bogged down in "when this life brings me pain..." I forget to actually BRING glory to Him in those times too. I find myself really struggling with the part of that "prayer" that says, "Jesus, bring the rain." I think it's normal/natural instinct for us as humans in the "flesh" to want "Comfortable Christianity." You know the kind I'm talking about... the 1 John 4:16 "God is love" Christianity, the Joel 2:13 "the Lord is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and rich in love" Christianity, the common misconception of "God is a smiling old grandfather who wants us to be happy" Christianity.
I'm realizing more and more that having a TRUE, deep relationship with Christ can in no way whatsoever be "comfortable Christianity." We are called to be the kind of people in Luke 9:23, who follow Christ's command when he says "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." When I think about "taking up my cross," the only image I have in mind of what it is to take up a cross is the picture of Christ carrying his cross to His crucifixion. Carrying your cross is not supposed to be easy, pleasant, fun, enjoyable. Denying yourself means that all of those ideas of "joy" and "peace" I have in my mind don't really matter... it is GOD's picture of "joy" and "peace" in my life that I should be striving for. The encouraging part is that Christ also tells us, in Matthew 11:29-30 to "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Obviously, we are still doing something here-- picking up the yoke- but we have CHRIST walking alongside us.
So... what does that mean? Basically, I have to intentionally, daily remember to pray "If that's what it takes to praise you, Jesus bring the rain." Do I think that Jesus will constantly "bring rain" in my life? No, I don't. I think the "rain" gives me a better perspective of how to not forget to praise him in the "sunshine" parts of life too.