Jesus is Better - SPOTLIGHT
About the Spotlight Writer
Hey y’all, I’m Amy! I recently graduated from Baylor University (sic ‘em bears) and am currently living in Dallas, TX. I am working as a patient care tech at the Baylor University Medical Center in hopes of applying to PA school in the next couple of years. I am a dog mom to an adorable (and crazy) australian shepherd/bordie collie named Selah, and if you follow me on any form of social media, you’ll know that I’m slightly obsessed with her and her cuteness. You can usually find me exploring somewhere in Dallas with my fur-baby.
Follow Amy at instagram.com/ajstarky
Jesus is Better
By Amy Starkweather
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar (King Neb for short, cause aint nobody got time for that) erects an image of gold and demands that everyone worship it. He commands that anyone who doesn't fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. When three Jewish, God-fearing men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refuse to worship the idol, some sleezy Chaldeans tattle on them to King Neb, and he becomes furious. King Neb confronts the three Jewish men and warns them again that they must worship the image or die.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s answer puts my faith to shame. They proclaim that if they are thrown into the fire, their God is able to save them. But even if He doesn't save them, they won't worship other gods or worship King Neb’s image of gold. They believe that their God is able to do the impossible, to save them from destruction, to save them from suffering, but even if He doesn’t, they will still choose to worship Him. No hardship, trial, suffering, will keep these men from trusting the Lord and His faithfulness. They don't question the Lord’s goodness if He chooses not to save them. They are confident of God’s goodness, despite the outcome of the situation.
It’s easy to follow God when life is all warm and cozy, but what about when you’re faced with the dilemma—deny your God or die? Do we really have the faith to trust God when our life is on the line? Take a step back from facing death. Do we even have the faith to trust God when life is difficult? When things aren't going our way? When we lose a job, a friendship, a relationship, a family member?
You know how they say that if you pray for patience, God will put someone in your life who will test your patience instead of just giving you patience. Well last year I found out that works with most things that we ask God for. God isn't in the business of handing us things on a platter, but rather teaching us to rely on him in all circumstances. Because if he just handed us the things we asked for, we wouldn't realize our continual need to rely on Him.
So, last year when I chose this passage of Scripture and the phrase “if not, He is still good" to pray over for the year, the Lord gave me a circumstance that tested and grew the strength of my faithfulness to Him. And my faith in the Lord’s goodness may have failed initially, but the Lord has taught me to trust His goodness beyond measure. Because trusting His goodness when life’s good is easy, but trusting His goodness when life is beating you up spiritually, emotionally, and mentally is something we can only do with the grace of Jesus and a constant relying on strength from the Holy Spirit.
So here I am, almost two years after a rough breakup and still trying to figure out what the heck the Lord’s plan has been in all of this and how to reconcile being hurt by someone who claims to love Jesus while also knowing that their actions were not Christ-like at all. I'm still trying to see the Lord’s goodness in the loss of a relationship that I valued so deeply and believed was a good gift from the Lord.
And I won't bore you with all the gritty details of the relationship because that would be a novel and not a blog post, but basically I started dating this Jesus-loving dude who I very quickly found out was dealing with sexual sin. He openly talked with me about it, asked me to keep him accountable (side note: bad idea folks. break up for the time being and let them find other men to keep them accountable while they're single), and struggled to respect the physical boundaries we created because his mind was so warped by sin. I tried so hard to help him overcome his sin. I tried so hard to forgive him over and over again when he crossed boundaries and when he didn't listen when I asked him to stop. I tried so hard to ignore the fact that this was a big deal because he was a Christian and he was trying to stop and he was trying to be better.
And it wrecked me. Absolutely wrecked me.
Because when I couldn't keep him from sinning, I hurt because I blamed myself and then I hurt even more because I felt not good enough. Because I was constantly worrying about him and feeling like it was my responsibility to fix him. Because he would act inappropriately and then beg for forgiveness, which I gave him because I mistook enabling him for extending a Christ-like grace. Because even when I said “no” he crossed boundaries we had created because he was so controlled by sin. Because I was scared to be alone with him at night, because that was when he had the least amount of self-control. Because I believed it was okay to be told I wasn't good enough because it was the sin talking and not actually him.
So yes, it wrecked me emotionally and mentally. But it also wrecked me spiritually.
Because I cared more about this relationship than I did about pursuing Christ.
Because I cared more about figuring out how a guy who claimed to be a Christian could do this while still proclaiming Christ than I did about trusting the Lord in all things.
Because I sometimes still think that if the Lord would have just given him victory over this sin, we’d still be together and I wouldn't have these emotional scars.
Because I sometimes still blame God for my pain.
Because I question God’s goodness for allowing someone to proclaim Christ yet also do and say the things he did.
So I constantly say that I trust the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness. I say that He is good and kind. I say all of these things, but do I really believe them and trust Him all the way to the deepest parts of my soul? If I can't even say the Lord is still good in this situation, how would my faith hold up in a situation like that of Daniel 3, if I was faced with death?
It’s hard to believe during times of suffering, but those times are the ones that build our faith in the Lord. These times are where we grow the most. Where we learn to rely on the Lord when we have absolutely nothing else to hold us up.
So even as I proclaim these truths, I am still reminding myself of them:
Jesus is better.
Jesus is better than all of the lies you are told.
Jesus is better than the wondering and the worrying.
Jesus is better than the confusion.
Jesus is better than the heartbreak.
Jesus is better than that situation you're facing that you think you won’t survive.
Jesus is better than it all.
Jesus is better.
Even still, two years later, it is really hard to trust the Lord’s goodness when I still harbor emotional scars and unanswered questions. So for now, I'm choosing to believe that Jesus is better. I'm learning that He can be trusted. I'm learning that He is good. I'm learning to be satisfied in Jesus and Jesus alone. And I'm learning that even when life doesn't seem good, even when things don't go my way, God is still good.
And I believe that the Lord will bless us for our unwavering faith, for pursuing and clinging to Him, even in the face of suffering.
But if not, He is still good.