Have you ever found yourself enduring a difficult season of life (maybe right now?) and wishing things would just return to normal? Perhaps you are having difficulty finding a job, your marriage is struggling, or a child who used to be so easy is now making your home a daily battleground and you think, “I wish life could just get back to normal.” Perhaps your only good friend moved out of town or you’ve experienced a significant health problem and you find yourself longing for a return to normal life.
If so, you’re not alone. And I’ve found that it needn’t even take a major life disappointment to make us long fornormal. Such longings might be caused by excessively busy times of life, feelings of loneliness, or just about any recurring struggle. Any of these occasions can lead us to hope for a return to normalcy. Perhaps you’ve even prayed, “Lord, I don’t want much! I’m not expecting to be rich or wildly successful. God, all I’m asking you for is a normallife.”
But have you ever stopped and asked yourself what you mean by normal? Perhaps you mean the kind of lives you see among most people around you? After all, it is true that some of us have much bigger problems than others. But if I’m honest with myself, I don’t necessarily want to exchange my problems for others’ problems, even if they seem much more manageable than my own. No, what I really mean by normal is, actually, my life without my troubles. (Not all trouble of course – just the trouble that’s troubling me at the moment.) But behind all this is a deep frustration with life as it is and a desire for a life free from trouble. And in a sense, this is, well… normal.
What we long for is heaven on earth, and on one level, this is right and good. We were made for heaven so it is natural that we long for it. In fact, Jesus taught us to pray for precisely this! But on another level, it is madness to expect now what cannot be had now. We will always be sorely disappointed until we can break ourselves of the desire for this normal now.
Jesus said, In this world you will have trouble (John 16:33). It should come as no surprise to us, therefore, when we encounter various kinds of trials. In fact we are told to count it joy when we face many kinds of trials because these can actually help us develop the sort of character God intends for us to have (James 1:2-4).
When we find ourselves, then, in the midst of challenging situations and longing for normal, let us encourage ourselves with these truths:
1. The sort of life that I long for will be normal in the coming age. God is preparing for us exactly the kind of life we yearn for. Jesus has conquered sin and death and is ushering in a kingdom in which the present futility and corruption will be replaced by glory and freedom (Romans 8:18-21).
2. The difficulties that we are undergoing now are the normal and perfect means our loving Father has appointed to bring about his will in us. Let us therefore, humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand so that at the proper time he may exalt us, casting all our anxieties on him, because he cares for us (1Peter 5:6-7).