Why does life have to be so difficult? Where is God? Why doesn’t He intervene in my circumstances? When will the suffering end?
Do you find yourself asking these questions, dear one? I know I do.
To be honest, I’m not sure I really expect a response. It’s more a means of expressing discontent, then actually seeking an answer. I understand, on some level, that this is just a part of life. That we will never fully understand God’s ways, this side of heaven. Recently, however, I sensed God speaking to these very questions.
I was meeting with my Wednesday morning bible study group. We were in the midst of Beth Moore’s Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit. For those who may not know Miss Beth, she is an absolutely incredible bible teacher. She has a strong passion for the truth of God’s word, and for helping women to find freedom and abundant life in Christ. Her bible studies have been instrumental in helping me to develop a hunger for God’s word, and an expectation that my loving, heavenly Father will be actively involved in the details of my life.
That particular morning, we had reached the teaching session on Faith, and it seemed like it was written just for me. Have you ever experienced that? You’re sitting in church and the Pastor’s message speaks to your circumstances so perfectly that you are left wondering, ‘How did he know’? Perhaps you’ve even been tempted to steal a glance at the people around you, and make sure that no one is looking your way. But maybe that’s just me!
I think its amazing how God will often use the same sermon to speak completely different messages to His beloved children. That’s one of the great wonders of the Holy Spirit, who enlightens us with understanding in God’s perfect timing.
Beth began the session by speaking about a ‘through’ kind of faith. At first, I had no idea what she was getting at, but soon came to understand that she was referring to the times in our lives when God does not instantly relieve our hardships, but rather calls on us to walk through the storm in faith. Boy, can I relate.
The passage that much of this teaching was based on came from the 43rd chapter of Isaiah.
But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.”
Isaiah 43:1-2 (NLT)
As she was reading the passage, Beth emphasized that the Israelites are repeatedly told that they will ‘go through’ various trials, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up…” (Isaiah 43:2). How true is it that although God could easily deliver us FROM a trial, he often chooses to deliver us THROUGH it.
But why not just rescue us, and make everything easier? After all, that’s what we ask Him to do.
In Hebrews 11, the chapter on the great heroes of the faith, God shares some insight into what he was doing in the lives of his children…
How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith, these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.
Hebrews 11:32-34 (NLT)
God allowed these men to face fierce trials. He used these experiences to turn their weakness into strength, so that these men would “become strong in battle and put whole armies to flight”.
We, too, are in a battle, friends. One that is not against flesh and blood, but against the kingdom of darkness. We must learn to trust God, and to turn to Him as the source of our strength. We are to put on the whole armor of God and stand firm against the attacks of the evil one.
When life is easy, our tendency is to do things in our own strength. But when we find ourselves in situations that are beyond us, we are much more likely to cry out to God for help. It is then that we are strengthened and renewed. We learn that God is our strength, our strong tower, our everything.
Are we boldly standing up to the enemy when he seeks to deceive us? When he hurls insults at us? When he accuses us? Satan is a defeated enemy. Let us not cower in fear. Let us not fall victim to his lies – that we are worthless, or inadequate or worse.
May we stand firm in the truth of who God says we are…
A holy people.
His precious children.
We want God to change our circumstances. To make life easier. To make us comfortable. But God, in his mercy, will not give us what we want, if it is not in our best interest. He allows suffering for a time, knowing the ultimate good that will result. He shapes us, through the circumstances of our lives, into the people we were always meant to be. We are being readied and equipped to fulfil our God-given destiny.
Notice, that in 1 Peter 5:10, it is God’s KINDNESS that allows our suffering, “In his kindness, God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation”. He allows our trials, knowing that in His strength we will be victorious. He walks with us through the darkness, and eagerly waits to restore, strengthen and renew us on the other side. Now that is a beautiful promise!
May God strengthen you, dear one, as you live a ‘through’ kind of faith,
Blessings and hugs,
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