Because God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things. We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self-regard, creatures of unalloyed self-interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one.
"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."
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| Monday, April 23, 2007
| Strength in Hard Times
|It is easy to have faith that your needs will be met in times of prosperity. It is easy to acknowledge God’s blessings when success is all around you. Surely, this is (eventually) the life that God intends for us when He said “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Yet, many people impose their idea of prosperity onto God. They equate financial security to God’s love and acceptance; as if God only loves those who are successful.
That is no testament of true character. How can one fully appreciate God’s goodness with out ever experiencing a need to long for His grace? God’s promise in Jeremiah was not a birthright, it was a promise made to hurting people in need of hope. It was – and still is – a response to those who seek God in desperation.
What happens when we experience hard times? Doe we, like Jeremiah, cry out to God? “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved.” (Jeremiah 17:14) Do we have that kind of faith?
What do we do when our health is failing? When we fall victim to corporate reorganization? When our car breaks down? When we have to decide which is more important: buy food or pay rent? What do we do when it seems nothing is happening in our favor? Do we treat God like he is our first love, or last resort?
The truest act of faith is found in our reaction to trials and tribulations. Where we find strength during hard times is a display of our inner-most character. The secret of joy is finding peace through any difficulty, when prosperity seems improbable. Far too often, I fear we delay our yearning for God until prosperity is restored. We tell ourselves “I will praise God when…” failing to realize we need God now, more than ever. We need to take a different approach.
The prophet, Habakkuk, gave us a fine example of this hope. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19) Even when all else fails, hope in God – find strength in Him.
God’s strength is most apparent when we rely on him to carry us through tough times. The apostle Paul writes of God’s promises, “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2Corinthians 12:9-10) This is the joy we find in God’s strength; that we rely on him through good times and bad.
God can make us anything. The powers to create and destroy are His. He dares us to dream big dreams; that we can do all things through Christ and His strength. We must allow ourselves to be lumps of mud in the hands of the Artist who can change us into something beautiful. Give Him our dreams, our desires, and He will shape us into a masterpiece. For in Him we find hope, and through Him we find strength for hard times.
|posted by nicholas casey @ 11:40 AM