Would you describe your life as a good life?
Would you describe your life as a hard life?
Could you describe your life as good even if it’s hard at the same time?
I used to think that life couldn’t be both good and hard. I used to think that if there was something wrong in my life, there was something wrong! It was not good.
But I finally realised that going through hardship doesn’t mean your life is bad. And it doesn't mean it's not a good thing. The bible clearly says we’ll go through hardship, but to be thankful!
It’s easy to become dissatisfied or disillusioned if we don't know that God is always good. It's easy to be disappointed in God if we don't understand His omnipotence. IF we are yielded to Him, things can be good even when they’re hard, and we can thank Him in all situations for working things out for our best.
We need to find the contentment in any situation that Paul talks about in Philippians 4. We can hope for more, but we need to be able to praise in the season of now. We need to trust in dark times even when we feel afraid or overwhelmed, because we know He's with us.
Psalm 23:4 (NIV) “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”
I went for years hoping, praying, believing, and professing the promises for my life that God placed on my heart. It strengthened me for a long time but things didn’t significantly change in the way I perceived significant change would come.
People who once believed with me drifted away. Had I missed those streams God said He would bring in the desert? Had I heard wrong that I would reach a resting place? Was I right in believing for safe and secure dwellings or was that just writings in the old testament? Was I right to apply the Word of God directly to my life, as if God truly cared for me? Did I have a wrong heart or wrong attitudes? Should I be doing something else? Was I going wrong somewhere?
I brought my scriptures before the Lord. "This is what you said to me Lord, I’m sure! This is what you showed me!"
Ezekiel 34:12-13, Isaiah 41:18, Deuteronomy 12:8-10, Isaiah 56:1-2, Isaiah 55:6-1, Psalm 25:10-22; Deuteronomy 33:25-29; These were His specific promises to me. I fed on them day and night. I prayed them into my being . I believed they were true for me and my household. I couldn't shake their conviction for me!
And then I heard God saying this to me:
Praise me in advance.
See me in the little things – how much more can I accomplish the big things?
Do not feel cast aside because people around you lose faith in what I have spoken to you? I have spoken it to you, not them. I have placed my plans in your spirit to convict you so that you will not lose hope, so that you will know how to pray. Everyone walks their own journey. Don’t expect people to carry your journey – they have their own.
Seek my comfort. Seek my solace. Seek my approval.
I do not change. I do not change. I do not change.
Haven’t I said the same thing to you, just in different ways over the years in order to assure you? And I’ve spoken through my Word. So, do not be silent. Do not let your head hang down. Lift up your head and shout in triumph! I have overcome the world! And if I have overcome the world, I have overcome in your world.
Your journey of suffering may seem long to you – but sometimes you focus on the wrong things. Length of time, thinking the smaller things are less significant, thinking the things you see are more significant than the things you don’t see. So many things you do not see and you grow despondent because of it.
Draw near to me and I will draw near to you and I will show you great and mighty things which you don’t know. I choose to show you what you are able to see when you’re able to see it. So, prepare yourself, and keep yourself in a place where you’re able to see and receive on my heavenly plain, rather than your earthly one. You are so limited.
But I am unlimited. I AM. Don’t you know who I AM? The first and the last, the ancient of days – do you know what that means? I am all in all – you are in me.
If I am unlimited, you can be unlimited in me, even in the hardest of circumstances. You can rise above. You can see with a different perspective. My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not yours, but your thoughts can be determined by mine. Don’t expect me to come down to your way of thinking, for that is futility. Where would your power be then?
Acknowledge who you are, and who I AM, and you will see your place in the scheme of your life so much differently.
Year after year, I waited for God to bring his promises to fruition in my life as I pursued Him through heartache. Day after day, I experienced a stripping away of myself, wondering if I could live through another day, and bear it any more.
I kept hearing Him say, praise me in advance. He kept reassuring me.
Praise me and thank me that it’s coming. Don’t get disillusioned because you haven’t seen it with your earthly eyes. You’ve seen it with your heavenly eyes, so dig deep, keep believing, and praise me! Enter my gates with thanksgiving in your heart and into my courts with praise. Shout aloud with a voice of triumph because I’ve already spoken your future into being and it’s a good one. You may be still living through discomfort and pain and things you don’t enjoy in your earthly body and mind, but clothe yourself with my name and you will be able to see things differently.
I’m going to be blunt.
Sometimes I thought it was harder to live with hopeful perseverance, than if I just gave way and let life overtake me. It was hard not to feel defeated when I knew that what I saw and experienced didn’t match up with my faith. I placed my hope in the transformative power of God, but year after year its fullness of completion kept coming up short.
Hope in what I believed (the bible calls that faith), felt stretched. People do get weary in battle. But God says:
Isaiah 42:3 “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;”.
I was always given just enough to keep going, but sometimes that seemed grossly unfair. I questioned that about God. It felt masochistic at times. But I would stop myself going there. I had to surrender everything or not bother at all. It wasn't always easy but I resolved to believe in God. God is a God of love and providence. Who was I to question Him? I had to keep my mind and emotions in check and not allow my expectations to dictate God. He was building my faith in those perilous times. He was calling me to seek Him and bring me into a relationship with Him that had deep roots.
Where else did I have to go?, like Peter said in John 6:67-68. I had no alternative but to put all of my faith in the God who said He was sovereign, worthy, loved me, directed my footsteps. I had no choice but to believe. I had no choice but to wait, and keep myself in confident expectation.
I learned I was called to glorify Him in the hard times, because He promised to complete what He started.
Now, I can say that the things I learnt on the journey are greater than the trauma I lived through. That’s an amazing profundity. I am so thankful that God allowed me to walk through that fire. He showed me He is always with me. He taught me so much I could never have learned any other way.
Those trials seemed relentless. It hasn’t been good in the natural way we think of as good. But it’s been profitable because of two things. My pursuit, and His faithfulness. His faithfulness has ensured my pursuit.
I’m coming out the other side, having been shown how to fight in the Spirit, having won many battles, having been refined in the fire, having been encouraged by the Lord many times not to lay down my weapons but to fight until the end, having trusted in Him alone. I'm coming out the other side having learnt to hear His voice. I'm coming out stronger and wiser. I'm coming out a different person.
He will see you through too. Pursue Him, love Him, and never give up.
Psalm 27:13-14( CSB)
I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord.