Jesus tells you to count the costs. Because the day that you put your trust in Jesus Christ, you enter into a battle - warfare that will last for the rest of your life. Why? Because not only is there a God who loves you and has a plan for your life, there is also a devil who hates you, and fiercely opposes God's plan.
Most are surprised to find that the true authentic Christian life is a battleground and not a playground. And that is why the apostle Paul said, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." 2Timothy 2:3
I bring this up because most of what is preached in America today is some version of a watered-down gospel; which is really no gospel at all. This diluted version of the true gospel promises forgiveness, but rarely tells you of the need to repent of your sin. It's a gospel that promises peace and plenty, but never warns of persecution. It's a gospel that says God wants you to be healthy and wealthy, and never have any problems to speak of. It's a gospel that says you can so wrap yourself in God's favor that there will always be a parking space available for you at the mall, especially during the holidays. It’s also what many in America expect when they raise their hand to accept Christ, and honestly it’s the only reason they claim to be Christian.
However, that is not the gospel of the New Testament. While I wasn’t there (regardless of what my daughter thinks), nevertheless I am fairly certain, the last thing on Paul's mind was, "How can I find a great parking space?" He had other objectives that gripped his heart and soul. So what is the point of what I’m talking about? That God wants you to be sick, poor, and miserable? That He doesn't want you to be happy? No, that's not my point.
I believe that joyfulness will come as you really follow the Lord. But it is a byproduct - a fringe benefit of belonging to Christ. The essence of the Christian life is knowing God and walking with Him. It's about praising Him when the sky is blue and also when it's filled with clouds or choked with smoke. It's about walking with the Lord through thick and thin, even if it means you have to walk through that deep valley, following God’s will and pressing on through every heartache and trial that happens to come your way.
For a real life lesson pick up "The Devil in Pew Number Seven"It is the amazing, true saga of relentless persecution, one family’s faith and courage in the face of it, and a daughter whose parents taught her the power of forgiveness.