This article was published in the November 2022 HomeLife Magazine. Subscribe today!
“A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10). Life can take our breath away. Sometimes, the joy is so overwhelming that we’re simply overcome with gratitude and delight. Holding a newborn or witnessing a wedding are cherished times, indeed. Watching as those we love are honored, when they achieve a longtime goal, or, above all, as they experience the first moments of new life though Jesus— these are times of rejoicing that so fill our hearts with wonder. Such joy seems at once enduring and fragile. The memory will endure, yet the experience is incredibly fleeting— gone in a moment but leaving our hearts fuller for having known such delight.
These rare pleasures in life are the stuff of dreams. We spend our lifetimes imagining the joys ahead and planning our lives accordingly. We map out the surest route to the times we anticipate with longing and excitement. We pray forGod’s favor as we set our course toward our fondest desires.When they’re achieved, overwhelming joy and delight beyond telling envelopes us until only “breathless” describes the pure elation we feel.
It is during these precious times that we’re convinced we’ve experienced the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10. Surely the thrill of a “dream come true” qualifies as the ultimate life to the full. Times of joyfulness come and go. Between them are times of anticipation or boredom or times of stunning upheaval. Surely, boredom and upheaval aren’t contained within the Lord’s promise of “life more abundantly.” Or are they?
Just as amazingly delightful times can make us breath-less, times of upheaval and sorrow can take our breath away. When trouble hits, it can seem every inhale is ragged and every exhale is aching. The very beats of our hearts are like throbbing pains that overtake our lives like a relentless, driving rhythm. Surely, these times can’t be included in the promise of abundant life.
Since sorrow and trouble can open our lives to our enemy’s weapons, we tend to see them in direct opposition to the abundant life Jesus promises those who love Him. In doing so, we miss so much of what Jesus longs to impart to the seeking heart. Consider whether trials just may be God’s avenue to teach us how to know abundant life in the midst of trouble or sorrow.
Anyone can possess joy, peace, and a positive attitude in the midst of a positive experience. Those who know nothing of our God and His amazing love can know these happiness-disguised-as-joy times. People with no knowledge of Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf can be swept away by joyous circumstances. The world is filled with people who revel in the wonderful. The difference between those who serve God and those who don’t shows up when trouble hits and chaos descends.
Satan would have us believe that trouble can have no effect other than stealing our breath, killing our peace, and destroying our hope. Steal, kill, and destroy are the aims of the thief — our enemy. Those who don’t know the Lord’s character and promises are easily overcome by the troubles of life. Their very breath is robbed by trial, sorrow, and pain. Times of loss result in depression, hopelessness, and dark despair for those who don’t know the One who said, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world”(John 16:33).
The abundant life Jesus promises us isn’t dependent upon situations or circumstances. The full, overflowing, richly-supplied life Jesus promises is in no way affected by outward events. Rather, it is an internal recognition of the sufficiency of Christ, whether in times of breathless joy or times when simply breathing increases pain.
Jesus is sufficient and will fill us with abundant life — no matter what life brings our way. Instead of depending on life events to bring breathless delight or struggling through times of trial that steal our breath, may we turn to the One who fills all in all. He is the Giver of abundant life to all who seek Him above all.
About the author:
Dawn Sherill-Porteris co-founder and partner in ECHOCreative Media. For the last 20 years, she’s had some amazing opportunities to study and share God’s Word: teaching biblical Greek and Old andNew Testament at Union University, as a associate acquisitions editor, as are search and editorial designer for Wayfarer Ministries. Some of her current endeavors include writing, curriculum development, speaking and teaching engagements, and creative consulting for ministry partners.