EASY FOR YOU TO SAY
Encouragement In Trouble
"Praise First. Cry Later." has been my new motto. I've written in past blogs that we all go through struggles. They are different for everyone, but the fact of the matter is as Christians each and every thing we experience is meant to draw us closer to our God. He uses these challenges, tragedies and other events to focus us back on Him. When we can't depend on things of this world, we are left with total dependence on God. That is right where He wants us. He wants to show us just how much he cares and how powerful He truly is.
Remember in Indiana Jones The Last Crusade? It was the end of the movie. They were in the cave and the earthquake happened and Indiana was reaching for the Holy Grail and his father couldn't get his attention. He could see his son was about to fall into the pit trying to get this object. In a quiet voice he called his name. We get distracted like that. Reaching for things that aren't important. What is important is trusting our father and letting go of everything else. I love that moment in the movie when he turns and lets his father pull him to safety. It is such a great picture of God and every struggle we go through. He is calling out to us. We just need to listen and then respond. We may not get what we truly want, but we get what is best. Only God can see the end at the beginning.
I was listening to an Israeli pastor today. He was talking about how the Nation of Israel is God's chosen people, but we often put the emphasis on the people and not on the God who chose them. What were they chosen for? Were they better than anyone else? Nowhere in scripture does God praise Israel for being "better" than any other nation. In fact, He is often very frustrated with them for worshiping idols.
God had a plan from the beginning of time. That plan was to reconcile ALL mankind to himself. It was not a plan to exalt the nation of Israel because of their great faith. It was a plan of salvation that took years. In that plan God would be exalted. He could have laid down his life for Adam and Eve in the garden, but then what lesson would they have learned? What lesson would mankind have learned? It had to be a process. He had to show man his need for God and then display a power so great it could take away the fear of death!
It wasn't that Israel is special at all! It is GOD who is special. The emphasis in scripture is ALWAYS on God and how great HE is. Israel was the nation He chose because of Abraham's faithfulness. It was a promise he made to one man. Because of that one man's faith, his son would be born into this family and through that one family all nations would be blessed. We have the unique position of living after Christ lived, died and rose again. We know the story and the purpose. Abraham believed God thousands of years before the birth of Christ. If Abraham's faith was so great without knowing what the end result would be, why do we fret over the things of this life when we KNOW that Jesus paid our debt and this is only a temporary life. Eternity awaits! We move on to glory and a lasting relationship that we are being prepared for in this life. The lesson of absolute dependence on God is not easy, but it is where every Christian must travel. It is the goal.
Imagine Jesus watching as you struggle and saying your name quietly, then waiting for you to respond. Are you listening? Imagine Jesus holding his hand out to pull you back from a dangerous cliff, or pull you in to embrace and comfort you during a horrible trial that has punched you so hard in the gut you can't breath. Imagine Jesus stretching out his arms to take your sin so that you could live forever with him. You see, when all is said and done this life is temporary. We are here for 10, 75 or a 100 years. We do not know how long we have. That is God's way of showing us just how important it is to trust him. He is the only one who knows when we will be done here with what he has for us.
Every trial in this life sometimes can seem worse than the one before. My initial reactions used to be cussing, yelling at God, crying my eyes out in anger and frustration. When I look back I can see Jesus standing there watching me like a parent in the grocery store with a two year old who has thrown herself on the floor in a tantrum. When the crying is all done he picks me up and says, "Are you done? Do you trust me? I promise that nothing will come your way that you cannot handle."
I'm still going to get upset when horrible news happens. I cried all day when my sister gave us the news of her cancer diagnosis. I cried because I love her and I miss her and I know what this kind of diagnosis can mean. At the end of my crying I was comforted by the strength of my sister, by my family coming together in unity, by a peace inside of me. God is in complete control no matter what the outcome. I heard in my head, "do you trust me?" I don't think he expects us to be perfectly calm when bad news hits. Even Job who was upright cursed the day of his birth. He didn't sin, but he was in anguish physically and had lost all of his children in one day. The emotional pain he was feeling must have been enormous!
We serve a mighty God whose love for us goes beyond anything that we could ever imagine. What makes us think that the trials of this life are too much for us to bear? I think of Jesus and all he suffered to give us an eternity of perfect peace and love.
What Happens in this Life Stays in this Life.
The abundance that God has for us in eternity will erase all of the hardships we have endured.
So Praise First. Cry Later! Whatever it is that you are facing is not going to stop your God from loving you and caring for you. He always makes a way for us to get through. It might just be a light shining through the trees on a dark forest road, but it's just enough to show you the way.
Psalm 39:4 "Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is."
Isaiah 40:30-31 "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Job 42:12 "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part."
I Recommend reading Job chapters 38-42. Read it slowly and use your imagination to picture everything that is being said. The power of God is greater than we can even imagine.