“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9
Today, I write with a full heart. A heart of overwhelming gratefulness for what God has done. I had an opportunity recently to be vividly reminded of a particular situation several years ago. As my memory was refreshed, the pain, sorrow, frustration and anxiety all came rushing back like a powerful tsunami sweeping over me. My physical heart felt physical pain over this issue by the mere mention of its memories.
Before I could drown in those horrible feelings, God swooped in and reminded me of all He has done through the situation to bring entirely different result.
If there was to be a positive result of any kind, His ways demanded open minds, strong hearts and radical change. How does one find the energy to participate in something so far off our normal path? Aren’t we already exhausted from daily life plus dealing with the issue at hand?
We could have simply sat down on the path and admitted defeat; or we could have turned and gone in our own direction out of anger; or we could have become frozen in a state of indecisiveness. This particular journey could have easily had any of those outcomes. In fact, I had moments of all of those on the path God was leading. Thankfully, He carefully drew me back each time, setting my feet on sure ground when they began to slip.
My question today is, do we really believe something that is uncertain & scary can be tamed to be something beautiful and beneficial in our lives? Do we believe change is really possible? After all, change is the most stubborn thing I know.
The answer to a problem isn’t that we pretend the problem never existed. But, wouldn’t that be great? Like a fairy godmother, a magic wand is waved and-poof!-the issue never happened. However, we don’t live in a land far, far away with stone castles and dense, towering forests. Nope. That ain’t reality – though most days I wish it were.
Daily, we are confronted with the problems, and the after math of them, that a broken world suffers under with every sunrise and sunset. Is there a possible happily-ever-after in this troubled world? In this lifetime, all we have to work with is the here-and-now. But, this doesn’t have to mean a life of defeat and frustration.
We can experience immense joy smack dab in the middle of what life throws at us. Our hope is in Christ. Everything here is temporary. Our hope is fixed on Christ who is eternal. He came to give us abundant life both now and in our happily-ever-after in the next life. This isn’t prosperity gospel, because frankly, Jesus promised us we would have problems. Like Sarah Young said in her devotional, Jesus Calling, “When things seem all wrong, trust God anyway. God is much less interested in right circumstances than in right responses to whatever comes our way.”
God doesn’t take sadistic pleasure in our suffering. However, He knows that there is growth in conflict. Romans 5:3-5 tells us, “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” With that, God has given us Scripture to encourage us along the journey.
Here are a few:
* And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. ~ Hebrew 11:32-34
* (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less. ~ John 3:30
* But 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. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
* (God speaking) My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. ~ Jeremiah 24:6
* …They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. ~ Isaiah 61:3
* This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls… ~ Jeremiah 6:16
* “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30
* …The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him. ~ Psalm 34:22
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
We cannot lose heart. When I stand back and look at the amazing work God has done to redeem this situation, I can only stand in awe and know it was He who did it. Yes, it has taken a lot of hard work, courage I didn’t know I had, and a relentless pursuing of the impossible on my part. All of it. All of it was worth it.
This is what I am learning: give God room to work. He can make something from nothing. He’s strong enough, brave enough and smart enough to use whatever our life holds for His glory and our good. Isaiah 55:10-11, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
I stand amazed at how much progress has been made in this particular area. Truly, a beautiful planting for the display of His resplendent magnificence. I am so grateful that God never gives up on us. I take refuge that His ways are higher than ours. There is peace in knowing He knows it all. Sometimes, it’s good to look back and see just how far our journey has traveled. I can see the mountaintop-highs, valley-lows and never-ending plateaus of the in between that have brought us this far. His hand guiding every step. His hand diligently crafting something beautiful and beneficial for His glory and our redemption. Change is possible. God is good.