HOPe for hard
This promise from Revelations 21:4 almost seems like a pipe dream. When you've been in this world long enough to almost feel like pain is all it offers you can settle into it and it can become your normal. However, the truth of God's word stand strong against our reality. Although the presence of sin now makes this a reality, God's word declares the truth, that one day that which is familiar will become foreign. One day we will not know what pain is, what sorrow is, what tears are. One day our faith will be made sight when we behold the face of the One who will wipe away every tear.
"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Trials are God’s preferred and proven instrument of refining us and transforming us into the image of Christ.
No one knows like a manufacturer, just how to get the optimum performance out of his invention. He knows the circumstances under which his invention will flourish and perform at its best. He knows also what will hamper its performance. We have been formed by the God who is perfect in knowledge and understanding in all things and certainly when it comes to us, His children. He knows that just like oil comes forth when olives are squeezed and wine comes forth when grapes are crushed, trials bring fruit from our lives that the mountain top does not. He allows trials not because He is cruel and uncaring, but because He’s a father who knows best how to bring fruit from our lives. So, He says, count it all joy, not the process, necessarily but the ultimate outcome. We can, not happily, but joyfully walk through the process because of the reward at the end.
" Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Beloved of the Lord... Amid the many lessons we can choose to learn from this pandemic is that God is God and we are not. We are mere jars of clay through whom He chooses in grace to manifest His power and His glory. He is in total control. We may FEEL pressed, perplexed, abandoned, stressed out, but we need not give in those feelings. For we are in the powerful hands have a good God and a loving father who promised to work out " all things for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose." ( Romans 8: 28) . Pick your head up and keep walking with the God who is the answer
“ But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
The need for refuge is only present when there is threat, harm danger trouble of some kind. We have a persistent need for refuge, for shelter because we live in a world filled with trouble. Jesus didn't want us to be caught off guard so in John 16 verse 33, He tells us that "in this world we will have trouble.” If you've ever been caught outside in a thunderstorm with no umbrella, you understand the feeling of vulnerability and the sense of relief when you finally find a place to shelter. God reminds us in this Psalm, that though life is riddled with storms, He is our refuge and strength. He is our hiding place. He is our shelter and our place of safety. Sheltered in Him we can weather any storm life brings our way. Take heart Beloved of the Lord, He who has overcome the world, is our refuge, our strength and our very present help in times of trouble.
“God is our refuge and strength, an
ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea”
One of the most poignant impact of threat as humans is the sense of aloneness. The feeling that there is no one to help, the isolation. That's why when we read these verses we find hope. Our very heart and soul clings to this promise from our creator, that He is with us. We are not alone, in the waters, we are not alone through the river, and we are not alone in the fire. we are not alone in this world as we face uncertain times ahead. Emmanuel, God is with us ! It’s His very presence that makes the difference!
"But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
Beloved of the Lord it matters what you do before the storms of life come. It is in the summer time that the ants prepare for winter. It is when we are on the mountaintop that we should prepare for the valley. When we cultivate a consistent relationship with God, we will stand firm when the storms come. When our spiritual roots in God go deep, when the winds come, we will not fall over. We will prosper and flourish in the times of famine. We will be that tree planted by the rivers of water still bringing forth fruit because we are rooted in God.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
We made so many plans at the start of 2020. Plans for work, family plans, for vacation. When we plan, we don’t know the things that will come to impact our plans. We plan in faith but in ignorance. When God plans, He knows the end from the beginning. God's plans for you are based on his complete knowledge. Beloved of the Lord, no matter what lies ahead God's plans for you are good! His plans are to give you a hope and a future.
" For 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."
In our world right now change is the only constant. Everyday we wake up in the middle of this pandemic, uncertain of what to expect. Uncertain of how long this shelter in place will be in place. There's nothing we can stand on that is not shifting. Not so with God. He is the eternal and immutable God who cannot change. So every day we can depend on His promise to help us and strengthen us in this time of difficulty. We can believe Him when He says "fear not"; when He promises to uphold us with His righteous right hand.
"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."