Regardless of our beliefs, our age, or our stage in life, there is a time when it happens to all of us. A time when things get serious. A pivotal moment. A time when we have to cling–to hang on with all our might, come what may.
Time when the rubber hits the road. When our faith, and everything we hold onto, is tested.
Financial hardships, a struggling marriage, wayward children, a season of unemployment which seems to last forever, lack of finances for an adoption, a terrible health diagnosis, on and on and on. None of us is immune. Even for those of us who follow Christ with all our hearts…the rubber must hit the road (frequently). Times when we must hang on for dear life. Times when all of a sudden the journey becomes a wild and uncertain ride…and our faith is tested time and again. We’re told in God’s Word that the trials will come our way–in fact we’re commanded to even “consider it pure joy” in the first chapter of James. Goodness gracious, and then it says that our trials will be many!
Oh dear. Not very encouraging at all, huh? Especially during times when we’re so deep down in the doldrums and life is not making any sense at all. I’ve been there so many times in my life.
Yet “Consider it pure joy.”
Even when we cannot see the end of the dark tunnel.
Even when we wonder how in the world we will pay the next bills.
Even when relationships are strained and reconciliation seems impossible.
Even when the cancer remains.
Even when the savings account has run dry.
“Consider it pure joy!”
Not a little bit of joy. Not some token amount of joy. No…pure [perfect, real, total, true] joy!
Geez, but I struggle with that pure joy thing. I really do. Truth be told, I fail miserably at it. For most of my life I have faced trials with fear, trepidation, grumbling, being a control freak by trying to handle things in my own way (as opposed to trusting my God who is more than able, and really does not need my help), and many sleepless nights. In my Bible you’ll probably find that “pure joy” part neatly erased with whiteout (just kidding, of course). Facing tough circumstances with joy in my heart does not come naturally. I totally stink at it. Sometimes a self-inflicted pity party of note just makes me feel so much better in a yucky situation. Woe is me, woe is me.
But God is teaching me, friends. Like many others, we’ve faced our fair share of trials in the last six months. We have been stretched and challenged–and stretched and challenged some more. We have, once again, reached that point where the rubber hits the road big time. Where we have to cling with everything that is within us onto the ONE who is our Deliverer.
It’s so easy to trust God and sing His praises when times are hunky-dory, isn’t it? He’s just the best ever when He comes through for us in amazing and astounding ways. He’s wonderful when our prayers are answered quickly and a victory comes sooner than we think. And He has all our adoration when life is marvelous in every way.
But what about when the opposite is true? What about those times when our Father in heaven is silent–and we’re down here longing for answers? What about the times when every prayer that we plead seems to be falling on deaf ears? What about the times when healing never comes and jobs seem impossible to find? Or when a marriage seems to be falling apart and restoration seems unattainable? Or how about when our answer from heaven is no?
That, my friends, is where the rubber hits the road. Where things get serious–where our faith in the Living God gets critical. When we must cling with all our might–even if we’re hanging on by our fingernails.
I have this awful tendency. It’s something that the Lord is weeding out of me–but I’m certainly not there yet. I tend to be like the Israelites. I look back! God has set my path, I have to go forward in order to reach the destination. But dang it, I keep looking behind me. I look back to when times were [perhaps] easier and more comfortable. I think about past places, past people, and past experiences. I keep one foot in the past, and one foot in the present. Yuck. God never told us to live in the past, in fact in Isaiah Chapter 43 God commands His people to “FORGET the former things, DO NOT dwell on the past.” It’s as clear as daylight.
I am a work in progress. I am clay in the hands of my Potter. Some days I get it right, others I fall down and have to get back up again.
But one thing I am sure of is that when the rubber does hit the road in our lives, when the going gets tough and things get serious, when our faith is tested from every angle–the Lord is right there to see us through to the other side. Just as He did for the Israelites and countless others in the Bible. God always delivers His people. Always. The seasons of adversity never remain. Before we know it they are nothing but a distant memory. And the Almighty God once again shows us His faithfulness.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
We MUST go through the valley in order to reach the mountain top.
Learning to cling!