I gained some powerful insight recently. God is developing and strengthening my faith in this season of my life. Previously, He had me build my trust in Him by looking to Him to help me pull through my trials. Then, I had to receive by faith the prayers I made to Him would be released. Once I received the answers to my prayers, I was stripped of those things I had been praying for. I was literally thrown back to square one! I immediately looked to the Book of Job and the life of Abraham.
God’s testing is rigorous and efficient in perfecting our faith and thereby our reliance on Him. The question I could hear most prevalently during my struggles was, “Will you continue to follow me on the path I’ve led you on through the worst of times even after great loss?” I will be transparent and admit I wrestled with the prospect. I couldn’t wrap my mind around why I would have to suffer multiple losses (some similar in nature). Was I meant to cry out to God in sadness and not joy? Would my victories be sparse and my failures plentiful? It took me a while to finally understand. Besides just the perfecting of my faith, my eyes and ears were being finely tuned to a supernatural frequency. They were being refocused.
Stress and loss can pull us down and burden us. Yet when we have been disciplined to tune into a higher frequency, the confusion of the world falls away. This past Sunday my pastor preached on hope. One of the reiterations in his sermon was that our hope comes from above. And indeed, our hope “….comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the One who watches over you will not slumber” (Psalm 121:2-3, NLT). He wants all my trust all the time, and He will not settle for anything less.
Though the process is painful, I am encouraged by the fact He watches over me every moment. He watches over me throughout the good and bad, during my waking hours and slumber. He guards me in the mist of it all. I can rest in that knowledge. It gives me peace.
Our endurance and perseverance in the making of our testimony gives glory to God. People are then able to observe that our strength is not of our own creation but of the Lord. We are supernaturally imbued with power, so His “strength is made perfect in our weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Every difficulty creates a testimony to bring deliverance to others. God uses the humble and the least of us to show how mighty and miraculous His power truly is. Just as Joseph, Moses, and Esther were hidden until an appointed time, God will also hide us until the appointed time He wants us to operate in and proclaim His glory.
Why do you rely on him
More than you rely on Me?
I literally knew you from the start.
I heard and smiled at your first heart beat.
I intend the utmost best for you!
I gave it all for you,
Paying the ultimate price.
Why rely on him?
What does he offer?
Can he stop the sun’s revolutions?
Can he number every star?
Does the earth quake at the sound of his name?
He doesn’t deserve your reliance.
Why not rely on me to work through him
Or better yet remove him,
If he’s not up to task.
Rely on Me.
I will provide for you before you even know you have a need.
My eyes are, now and forever, focused on you.
I see your tears and will never overlook you.
We are a mess.
Not the kind you find in a kitchen
After a hastily prepared meal.
But a wonderful
We’re the type of mess
Occurring when paint meets brush.
When what was meant to be an exercise in formal technique
Turns into an abstract rendering
A work of aesthetics that only God could properly frame.
You and me,
We’re a mess that’s easy to mistake for chaos.
Like the explosive pressure needed to bring forth a diamond
Yet the yield is wholly worth the hours of precision.
The exhilaration of too loud music,
Its beat rippling through your chest.
The confusion and disorder until you decide to just go with the flow and let your body be carried by the melody.
Tangible and comforting,
This mess leaves me wondering at the possibilities of exploring beauty found in unlikely places.
May we seek and find those hidden treasures in life.
I love how matter-of-fact they are:
“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and [He] will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if [He] does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-20, NIV)
Sometimes we believe God only blesses us when we receive what we desire. We reason away why certain things should come to pass. Deliverance from a fiery furnace would, of course, be right at the top of our logical list of petitions to God. Yet Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were aware of God’s glory and the blessings that come from fulfilling His commandments in spite of terrible persecution, even death.
The feeling of helplessness often follows when we endure an offense. Other times the thoughts of wanting to respond negatively to the offense is at the forefront of our minds. Yet there is one thing we must always remember… God will hold people accountable for the offense and deceit they commit. It’s one of the many sureties in life. I’ve learned to rest in that truth.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). He will definitely repay. He does so in such a seamless way, it supersedes any conceivable reprimand or punishment a person could concoct. He intimately knows the oppressor just as he knows the person who is oppressed.
Find peace in His bound less wisdom. Find rest in His plans.
There’s a reason long-suffering is a fruit of the Spirit. We can’t produce the level of understanding and patience another human being needs. People are flawed. They progress and regress constantly. Occasionally, they execute both in the same day. God given tolerance is essential to maintaining relationships. When faced with stress or chaos we often overlook the needs of people close to us, when in fact it is our opportunity to demonstrate the love, acceptance, and patience God wants us to share amongst each other.
Don’t allow stress and hard times to draw wedges between your relationships. If anything, it’s a time to draw closer together. Ask God to give you the long-suffering you need to reach out to others even during the most desperate, overwhelming moments in life.
God gave me understanding through a song, “The Best in Me,” sung by Marvin Sapp. I correlated it with the understanding I received earlier today, which was God believes in us because He can simultaneously see our past, present, and future. I’m so very thankful He can or else I would give up on my ability to change.
Under pressure people can change, similarly to how pressure creates a diamond. At other times, pressure hinders the process. People react to genuineness and support. Positive reinforcement is more effective in most cases. Even eustress (good stress) is preferred over negative.
Long lasting change takes time. It has to be adopted, tried, and tested. Habits are hard to break and only through diligent repetition, focus, and dedication can a new habit be formed.
When things start to spin out of control, I become overwhelmed and immediately step back from the situation. I perceive the entire picture as opposed to the current situation. The crisis may only be a small puzzle piece in the grand scheme of things. Once one fire is extinguished, there will undoubtedly be another. But staying focused on the end goal keeps my head in the game.