In John 10:10, Jesus gives us a beautiful, hopeful promise:
Fulness of life.
Life in abundance.
If this is the case, then why don’t we always experience it? Why does life not always seem full and abundant. Why does it so often feel broken and empty?
Jesus also tells us in John 10:10 that their is a thief. One who doesn’t want us to live in the fulness of life Jesus gives. One who does not want us to live with joy in Jesus, because such joy is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), and in this strength, we can do anything Jesus calls us to (Philippians 4:13). So the thief sets out to do what all thieves do: steal. And this thief will also kill and destroy. He’ll stop at nothing to stop the unstoppable force of those who are radiant with joy.
He steals through lies.
A lie is not true.
Yet, many times, I find myself believing lies as if they were true.
And when I believe a lie, a fog descends. The lens through which I view my life and myself is cracked and muddied. I do not see clearly. I do not see truly. The light is dimmed.
Our perception is grounded in what we believe. So if I believe lies, then I perceive falsely. If I believe the truth, then I perceive what is true.
Lies tell us our worth, our significance, our value, our very identity are found in something other than Jesus. They tell us our purpose, the meaning of our life, why we are here on this earth, is something other than living in relationship with Jesus.
And when we believe the lies, contentment is dislodged, because we have a false perspective of ourselves, our life situations, others, and even God.
We chase after success, approval, a certain lifestyle, a certain body image, entertainment, more friends, Mr. Right, adventure… in hopes of finding lasting joy.
And even when we come to the end of the chase, even when one of the goals is reached, when we do fail, when we are criticized or excluded, when tragedy hits, when a pound is gained or the skin is scarred, when the entertainment ends, when friends let down or betray, when Mr. Right disappoints, when adventure gives way to normal day-by-day… we’ll find our joy fleeing and we’ll hear discontentment knocking.
Those “if only” thoughts loom large. The emptiness in our hearts growls with hunger. We feel alone, unworthy, not good enough, insignificant, unloved, and unloveable. We want more, but when we taste the more, the craving is not satisfied, only intensified.
These lies lead to fears. Fear of failure, of rejection, of being alone, of showing any flaws, of disappointing, of what others might think, of change. Because any of these things are a threat to our joy. They must be avoided at all costs.
So through fear, the lies end up ruling us. We are captive to the false.
The fear I most wrestle with is the fear of being alone. Not alone as in being by myself with no other people around. But alone as in having no family, no home, no place of belonging.
The fear comes from the lie that maybe I don’t belong anywhere. That I could never fit in or be included. That no one would ever really, truly claim me as theirs. And that if I don’t fit in, if I’m not included, if no one wants me, then I’m worthless.
I do have a family. A wonderful family with whom I have a home. My place of belonging. But the fear can still grip, because what if all that were to go away? What if I were to lose this family where I belong and this place I call home? And even in the midst of having, the fear of not having can consume.
This fear has led to many other fears: fear of failure, of disappointing, of what others think, of rejection, of not being enough of this, of being to much of that.
This fear has caused much discontentment in my heart, as it casts a dark shadow over my life and my relationships. Never really being able to surrender to full joy, because I am held back by the fears and insecurities.
When fear becomes my lens, prison bars become my view.
But this fear has its power only in a lie. Because the truth is, I’m not alone. There is One who in mighty love saves me and claims me as His. There is One who delights in me and rejoices over me. I belong to Him. I belong with Him. I belong in Him.
This is the truth, and in this truth, I need not fear. In this truth, I am free from fear. And in this freedom, I have joy.
There will be times when we feel afraid, when lies whisper and cause us to feel alone, worthless, ugly, unloved, like we’re failures, like we don’t belong. But these are just feelings.
Feelings are very real emotions. But feelings are not truth. As we sort through and process life with all the emotions we experience, we need to do so through a filter of truth, lest we become captive to fear and lies.
Our emotions should not dictate our contentment. Contentment can be rooted in something much more enduring and unchanging than our feelings. Something that gives joy even when we’re feeling hurt, alone, afraid, insignificant, or sad. Contentment can be rooted in the truth of God.
Feeling is not the same as believing. I can feel worthless, but I can also choose to believe that I am valued by God, and live in that truth. And the truth brings freedom as it transforms the way I view my life and myself. I begin to see myself as God does. I begin to see others as God does. I trust God’s promises and plan for my life because I believe His Word to be true.
Truth is found in Jesus. In spending time with Him, in searching His Word, in seeking His will, in submitting to His leading, in stepping with His Spirit.
For Jesus is the Truth. And living in His truth gives joy to the heart.