In her book, The Fight to Flourish, Jennie Lusko talks about this idea: we were designed to flourish.
But it doesn’t just happen. We have to fight for the particularly favorable conditions that nourish human flourishing. And it is a fight.
A mother of five, Jennie tells the story of her 5-year old daughter’s heavenly homegoing just five days before Christmas. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. It’s just about the most horrible thing many of us can imagine in this world.
Since my own husband’s homegoing just 5 months ago, I – like Jennie – have become more aware of the fight to flourish. Why does it have to be such a battle? Perhaps you’ve wondered that too.
I have been reflecting on this idea quite a lot these past few months. Here are a few things we know:
- God designed us to flourish (Jeremiah 29:11).
- We are his handiwork and he has good work for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
- There is an enemy of us and this good work prowling, seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8).
That last one shows us where the fight comes in. There’s an enemy. That means we’ll have to fight for it!
So what are we fighting for? I love that both Jennie and her pastor husband, Levi, have told their story of fighting to flourish to hundreds of thousands of people to date. Their story helps me. And my story can help others.
In Paul’s words to first century Christians in Corinth: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
We need each other to flourish. We need people who comfort us and people we can comfort. We need people who remind us we carry this life’s pain, loss, grief, and disappointment with hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We are hardwired for community.
It was a community, full of the nutrients needed for human flourishing, that carried, supported, nurtured, and strengthened Jennie and Levi through the hardest times. And continues to celebrate with them in the happiest times, too.
Part of our fight to flourish is fighting for our community. How do we know this is crucial? Paul wrote about it in another letter to Christians in Ephesus: For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
Now the fight gets close to home. We have an enemy – of us, of the next generation, of this good work. And he doesn’t want us to flourish. One of his favorite tactics is to whisper the lie that our teammate is our enemy. That our mentor is our enemy. That our leader is our enemy. That our student is our enemy.
In her book, Throw the First Punch: Defeating the Enemy Hell-Bent on Your Destruction, missionary, speaker, and pastor Beth Guckenberger describes this phenomenon. She teaches Jesus-followers to anticipate how Satan will attack and to discern powerful techniques to preemptively fight against him. Not just to survive, but to thrive. And to do it with each other, in community.
I am grateful to be part of a life-giving global community. Surrounded by teammates committed to the fight to flourish.
A Blessing for Those Weary in the Fighting
I’m thinking of a mom, tired of requesting, reminding, requiring;
Sharing herself sacrificially in a thousand thankless tasks;
Wanting only for her child to see his own potential, the opportunity at hand, the privilege presented, the possibilities…
And for the teacher, exhausted from another round of how-comes,
and what-do-you-means, and it’s-not-funs;
As she reaches for out-of-time peers, fatigued from their own frenetic fullness;
while shame is added to her guilt…
For the student mistaking his friend for his foe,
And his foe for a friend;
Hearing wise counsel as oppression,
And possibility as limitation and restriction…
Open eyes to see and ears to hear.
Show each one the weapons on hand for this fight.
May they – may we recognize the real enemy,
the one hell-bent on our destruction.
Allow each to hear the Holy Spirit’s encouraging counsel
through the words of a fellow fighter-friend.
Bring comfort from someone who has already received it.
Remind, even now, that you created us with good work to do;
that you intend to complete what you have begun.
Reignite the flame of our fight to flourish.