(Scripture references from the NIV) !
The weekend of March 30, 2019, my Pastor (Robert Morris – Gateway Church), talked about the difficulties that Christians can go through, but…how it can all be for their own good. Then the next morning the devotional I read was titled “Washed and Broken” – and pretty much dealt with the same theme I had heard at church just a few hours earlier. So…there is something I need to know about and learn, perhaps? Additional study time and research resulted in this article.
“We often learn more of God under the rod that strikes us than under the staff that comforts us.” Stephen Charmock
We all know, or at least should know, that even as Christians, life can be hard at times. Being a Christian does not mean that we walk through life in a bubble that protects us from everything difficult and bad. It would be nice if that was how it went, but as they say “it just ain’t so!” Real life continues on around us with all its ups and downs.
The scripture reference for the devotional I read was Psalm 42. It is believed that this Psalm was written by David and possibly at a time when he was either going through some persecution from Saul, or maybe during the time of rebellion of his son Absalom. Whatever the reason for this Psalm to be penned, it was cause for a great deal of grief for David. But after he expresses the great pain in his life, he then in verse 5 and then repeats in verse 11 “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” I believe David recognized that regardless of the difficulties he was enduring, all would be well, because it was ordained so by his God.
I believe that we can bring troubles onto ourselves. Unknowingly, or sometimes even knowingly, we do things that are just outside what should be our mindset. God wants to give us all the good things we desire. But, we can tend to let “things” get in the way of our relationship with Him; we listen to others that fill us full of erroneous ideas or outright lies; etc. In so doing, we open a door for attack from our enemy and we find ourselves in that hard place. Or, depending on what we have done (or said) there are the natural consequences that we choose to ignore and go forward anyway. Some things that we desire and that become important to us may have moved to an inappropriate place in our life. Some trials can help us recognize what we have done and allow us to reorder things back to where they should be. But, because God loves us so much, He will allow nature to take its course and as a result, we can walk through some hard things. Hopefully we will recognize our role in what has developed and correct ourselves, coming out the other side better and stronger.
Some of my favorite Bible verses are in Jeremiah 29 where Jeremiah has written a letter to the remaining Israelites in exile. It is a message from God telling them that after their 70 years – yes, 70 long years – in exile He will come to their rescue, fulfilling His promise to them. In verses 11-14b it says “’…I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’…declares the Lord.” What a wonderful promise!
However, I also believe that in order for us to learn life – i.e., character, priorities, etc. – God will put us in some hard situations to help us understand our proper place so that we are His disciples and are truly living for Him. It will help conform us to the image of Christ. Malachi 3:2 “For He will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.” The fact is silver and gold do not come out of the ground as pretty elements. They have to go through a refining process – part of that being an extremely hot fire to remove all of the impurities – in order for their beauty to be exposed. So when we go through the fires of our life, our true beauty will be exposed. When we are walking through the fire, we should immediately put our eyes on God and earnestly seek His guidance. We need to take a clear, close look at ourselves to discover what we need to do in order to bring peace to our life. Ask questions so that we can hopefully discover if this discomfort is of our own making or is God trying to help us learn a lesson?
God disciplines those He loves. Hebrews 12:5b-11 “’My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by this father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
To end this, I will just remind us all “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Written by Karran Martin
March 31, 2019