That thing called life, if I dwell on it too long, I can feel my blood pressure rising point by point. The stressors never cease, yet God calls us to thrive in the midst of chaos and pursue Him passionately. This is one of the most challenging tasks I have ever faced (next to that “love your enemy” thing). I call it a task because it requires hard work!
We all know that working for something makes us value it much more than if it had been handed to us with no effort on our part. Harder still is seeing God when your life is crumbling around you. It is tough enough when things are going smoothly, much less when you feel like the bottom has dropped out from underneath you. It is then that most of us can’t help but wonder whether anything we’ve believed for so long is even true.
If you haven’t been in that position before, here’s a fair warning: it’s coming. The when and how may be a mystery, but make no mistake that when it does, you need to be ready. Will He really never leave us or forsake us? How will we know? I think of Job in the midst of losing every single possession he had, not to mention all of his children. There is undeniably nothing worse to a parent than the death of a child, but imagine all ten!!
He continued to praise and worship God when his circumstances completely contradicted his desire to do so. Praise is a sacrifice!! Don’t kid yourself, though; even this giant of the faith had moments of doubt. Despite his limited human insight, however, Job somehow knew that what he had lost wasn’t everything in life. His reliance upon God’s sovereignty gave him the strength to endure the torture of his suffering and hold onto hope.
I think there comes a time in every Christian’s life when we simply have to decide whether we believe Christ or not. There have been times I have poured over His promises, sobbing, wondering how they could be true when the conditions around me were equivalent to a handful of natural disasters combined. I also know that so often my feelings are completely unreliable, and if I make decisions based on them, I’m in deep trouble.
Knowing the difference between what is true and what feels like truth in the moment is a riptide that still pulls me under from time to time. Seeing God in the midst of what feels like utter hell is a choice. This does not mean disregarding how painful your situation is, and it certainly doesn’t mean that God is delivering payback for past sins.
The enemy will tell you otherwise. The memories of all your indiscretions will flood your mind faster than you ever thought possible, convincing you that pain is what you deserve. Satan’s goal is to inflict as much possible pain on you because he knows it hurts God’s heart. What better way to get to the Father than through His children?
The Christian walk is not for the weak. Growth is painful, frustrating, and downright confusing sometimes. Making a firm decision based on what the Creator declares is most of the battle. Once you decide whether you believe His promises, that decision must be walked out every Sunday through Saturday. It doesn’t mean you suppress pain or ignore grief; quite the contrary is true. You must acknowledge the hurt, grieve over it, pick yourself up, and move forward.
In a more practical application, that means venting to a trusted friend, allowing yourself a deep, gut-wrenching cry session, and then finding some gloves with a good punching bag to relieve stress. If you find yourself unable to manage everyday responsibilities, see your physician and find a counselor. Wise counsel and medication can make all the difference between falling into the abyss of despair and winning the war against it.
Above all, dive into your Bible as often as you can. Transfer the truth of His promises from those pages into your soul! If a passage doesn’t supernaturally lift your spirit the moment you read it, don’t worry; God is planting it in the perfect spot so it will sprout when you need it most. Circumstances don’t always turn out the way we hope, but when we grasp the fact that nothing surprises our heavenly Father, it sure feels good to relinquish the reins of control.
Featured Image by William Randles