I enjoy reading church signs. When I drive from place to place, I watch for churches, because the words on a roadside marquee often tell quite a bit about what’s important to a church. Sometimes a church (like ours) will give a preview of the coming Sunday’s sermon; other churches will advertise upcoming events and programs. Frequently, a church will put an encouraging phrase on its sign, and these are often the most interesting to me.
Recently, I passed by a church with this saying on its sign: “Jesus Makes All Sad Things Untrue.” In all fairness, I did not call or stop in at this church to ask what the sign meant. So I don’t know how the church’s pastor has explained this statement or what the church people think of it. But I wonder… does Jesus really make all sad things untrue?
Jesus certainly doesn’t make all our painful experiences unimportant. No, life is hard – sometimes quite hard – and God never promised us that belief in him would turn into a carefree life. In my own devotional Bible reading, I am going through the book of Job. Often, I am struck by how human Job’s emotions are. He experienced incredible loss and suffering, and if I were in his shoes, I might say words similar to his. Faith is no magic rescue from hardship, even though our painful experiences can be redeemed by God to make us whole, strong, and able to help others through similar situations.
Jesus certainly doesn’t make our problems suddenly disappear. If a loved one passes away, there is no going back; this sad thing will always be true. If someone in our family or community experiences abuse or neglect of any form, a relationship with Jesus may not immediately fix everything. If you are struggling to pay the bills and keep the lights on, God has promised that he will provide for all your needs (2 Corinthians 9:8), but you probably won’t win the lottery next week after praying about it. Our problems are our own, and often they are very, very true.
So what could this sign mean? Here are a few ideas:
- Jesus can correct our self-image. You may not like who you are; you may not think you are valuable to anyone or to God. Jesus makes that sad thing untrue!
- Jesus can provide hope. You may not feel like the future is worth living for. Jesus makes that sad thing untrue!
- Jesus can help us love and be loved. You may feel very alone, even if you are around people all the time. Jesus makes that sad thing untrue!
Following Jesus is about redemption, hope, and transformation of life. What sad things in your life can Jesus make untrue?