A life-jacket will keep your head up above water and keep you from drowning, but if you're a good swimmer you can hold your own head up and the life-jacket just restricts you from swimming freely the way you want to. People who don't know they're sinners feel the same way about Jesus; they feel like they are good people who are living good lives and Jesus would just restrict them from living their lives the way they want to. If I felt like I could do everything for myself, why would I look for help? And why would I want someone telling me how to do something and cramping my style when I feel like I am perfectly capable of doing it myself?
Until the Holy Spirit convinces a person of their sin and they see for themselves how helpless they are on their own, they will not want or accept Jesus. Until they see they need saving, they won't be looking for a savior. Sometimes we spend a lot of time talking to certain people (maybe a relative or an especially good friend) about Jesus and nothing seems to happen. We tend to get frustrated and end up just "bugging" that person. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit convince them of their sin and move on to someone else until He does. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Until he's thirsty and needs water, he's not going to drink it. You can lead a man to Jesus, but you can't make him get saved. Until he knows he's lost he won't be looking for someone to rescue him.
I've had a few hard things happen in my life and they certainly weren't any fun. But those things helped me to see my need for Jesus and I am eternally grateful. I believe that is why Jesus said that poor people are blessed; it's because they don't have money and worldly possessions to trust in and turn to Jesus and trust in Him for everything. When you trust in Jesus you don't have to stay poor (I believe He wants us to prosper in everything we do), but putting Him first and trusting His promises is the first step to true prosperity.
Jesus is my life-jacket and I'm holding onto Him as tightly as I can. I know He will bring me through high and dry.
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