Category Archives: circumstances
So we do not lose heart.
Though our outer self is wasting away,
our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us
an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to the things that are seen
but to the things that are unseen.
For the things that are seen are transient,
but the things that are unseen are eternal.
—2 Corinthians 4:16-18
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On this Sweet Saturday, please remember that although we may lose heart during very trying circumstances, God does not lose heart with us. He is always ready to enfold us in His everlasting arms and remind us that through the pain we are being renewed day by day.
Day by Day Renewal
“Coffee Break: Recharge Your Brain” read an Internet headline and could I ever relate to that! I am definitely a coffee drinker and very thankful that its pick-me-up properties help ease me into my day. I awaken foggy brained most days, but after an hour or two of java sipping, I feel better able to face whatever the day holds.
In this particular Scripture passage Paul is urging us to not dwell on our present circumstances and trials, but rather to focus on God’s grace in our lives.
I am always impressed by how often Paul—who continually praised God in the midst of the many trials, persecutions and imprisonments he endured—encourages us to look outwardly to God rather than inwardly focusing on our daily concerns.
What an example Paul is! He never lost heart over his dire circumstances and in fact urged his followers to use these situations to draw closer to God in order to be spiritually and emotionally renewed. Paul’s close relationship with the Lord gave him the confidence to rely on the Holy Spirit’s strength when things were toughest for him.
Beloved, we can do the same thing! During those times when we feel we positively cannot go on, let’s not let fatigue or pain keep us from drawing closer to God and renewing ourselves with His refreshing spiritual nourishment.
It’s been awhile but today I’d like to share with you another special devotional written by my friend and mentor, Patricia Knight. This is another of the devotionals in her book, REJOICE!
Victory Over Circumstances
Elijah was God’s prophet. The Old Testament tells us that Elijah alone challenged 450 prophets of the false god Baal. God’s people refused to help so Elijah faced the formidable adversaries with only his God on his side. Each opposing team of believers was to offer a sacrifice on an altar but not set fire to it. Baal’s prophets were to call on their god and Elijah called on the Lord. The one who answered by fire would be declared the true God. Baal, of course, was unresponsive in spite of shouting and pleading by his prophets. Elijah then prayed that God would let it be known that He was the only living and true God. “Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench” (1 Kings 18:38).
Elijah had just been triumphant against 450 prophets of a false god. He had believed in God and God was triumphant. One would think Elijah would be praising God and rejoicing after the victory. But, he had just received a message from wicked Queen Jezebel, saying she would kill him. God’s Word tells us Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. Other than being overtaken by fear Elijah was tired—just plain worn out. Imagine the energy he expended in the intense fighting against the vastly out-numbered prophets of Baal.
We cannot forget the all-powerful Jezebel, who was at that time threatening to do to Elijah what he had just done to the prophets of the false gods. 1 Kings 19:4 tells us, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” With God’s help he had just defeated all those men against all odds. Now we hear him pleading with God to take his life. “Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep” (1 Kings 19:5). Observe how God ministered to him. It appears that the cause of Elijah’s depression was lack of proper rest (vs. 5), improper eating habits (vs. 6), physical exhaustion (vs. 6), and loneliness (vs. 16). In the scene that is created for us of Elijah, God has sent an angel to minister to his needs. God healed Elijah by allowing him to rest, gave him food, and sent a friend for earthly companionship.
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. —1 Kings 19:4-9
Interestingly, God didn’t condemn Elijah and tell him to stop his foolishness and get on with life. God, in His wisdom knew that Elijah needed comfort and understanding. God knew that what He had asked Elijah had not been easy for him to do. With his multiple needs in mind, God ministered to Elijah to refresh him mentally and physically. God still had more work for Elijah to do; He needed a rested and nourished man for the days ahead. God even demonstrated to Elijah His presence in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12).
There is nothing that we experience that God has not been through.
That is why He so readily understands our needs.
There was a time when God allowed Satan to test Jesus in the wilderness for forty days. Though Jesus did not sin, He knew the energy it took to resist constant temptation. That is why He can minister to us and completely meet our needs when we are worn out, over-worked, or have a long list of demands facing us.
Like Elijah, our typical response may be a desire to crawl into a corner and tell God and the world to go on without us.
“And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
God does not expect us to be super heroes.
Nowhere does He even hint at that. He only tells us to obey. A concise way to remember the importance of obedience when we can see neither the purpose nor the outcome is to recall this quote:
God takes full responsibility for the consequences of our obedience. —Anon
There will be a day, soon, when you will feel like smiling inwardly and outwardly. For now you need to rest and restore and renew. Only God can accomplish healing and in His precise time. It is not comfortable to be in a dry area. Look at all the great men of the Bible. They had their wilderness wanderings when God took them away from the crowd to teach and refine them. Moses was out in the fields where he escaped to Midian after murdering a man. He lived there for forty years until God called him to do his life’s work. Or, visualize Joseph in prison, wondering why God took him so far, to then have him forgotten by family and those to whom he was devoted. Job teaches us about physical and emotional suffering; he learned that he had no right to question God. In His time, God restored Job’s health and showered him with many more possessions than he had before. Even God’s own Son spent those forty days resisting Satan in the wilderness.
I have been in dry spiritual times and I have resisted greatly. It is neither fun nor a comfortable place to be. “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going… These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever. So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever” (2 Corinthians, 4:8, 9, 17, 18, TLB).
The Psalmist David was named “a man after God’s own heart.” What a distinction and honor! Yet this is what he admitted, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1, 2). It is wonderful that God chose to write examples of very real and flawed people in His Word so that we can relate to those about whom we read and apply the lessons to our own lives.
When God sees us in the “pits,” He reaches down and lovingly rescues us, lifting us up to higher ground. Through Him, we are triumphant, like Elijah of centuries ago. Trust Him because He has already won the victory!
Pat, once again I thank you for allowing me to share your writing with my readers. You’re the best and once again, your writing has blessed us all! If anyone is interested in purchasing a copy of REJOICE! please let me know by commenting in the section below this post.
Reblogged from last year’s September 19th post which makes it 1 year old but always applicable…
JOY IN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES
“Genuine, authentic faith must be definite and free of doubt. Not simply general in character; not a mere belief in the being, goodness, and power of God, but a faith which believes that the things which “he saith, shall come to pass.””
—Necessity of Prayer, E. M. Bounds
“Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”—Job 2:10b,c
Don’t you wonder how Job could say this after everything he went through? Doesn’t it make you shake your head and think, “yeah, right”? How could Job even think to say this after everything—and I do mean everything—was taken away from him?
Job had it all: a loving family, great wealth, a thriving business and good health. He was loved and respected by his family and the community because he was a very general and loving man. He indeed had it all… until suddenly it is all taken away and he is left helpless and hopeless.
Oh, did I say “hopeless”? Hardly.
“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” —C. S. Lewis
I know it’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from me but rest assured that God has been very much at work in my life. I have been heard to say that I’d like to wipe the year 2010 from my calendar, but as I have reflected on this, I have to say now that’s not really true.
Like many of you, I live with daily chronic pain. Among the several illnesses I endure, my most persistent “thorn in the flesh” is daily migraines. Last year I tried yet another medication I hoped would help but the greatest side effect was to increase the intensity and duration of my migraines plus cause me to sleep for a good portion of the day as well as at night. It wasn’t unusual for me to get 12 hours of sleep during the night and then sleep again for 2-3 hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. I found myself unable to do the simplest tasks and the year went by in a blur of pain.
Without going into too much detail, it turned out that the new medication had caused a host of reactions, the least of which was the increased migraine activity. Once I was completely weaned off this medication, I started feeling almost human again. Living in a haze of pain medications is no picnic!
So many times last year I felt as if I was sliding through what I called wasted days–when all I was capable of doing was sleeping, eating and some light household chores. I spent lots of time talking to God, wondering why this was happening to me and if it would ever end. I thought my days were wasted because I wasn’t doing anything that I deemed valuable, but in reality God was doing a work in me that I finally understand.
Before this time of pain and frustration, I understood how to be joyful in spite of my circumstances. However, I can now see that God has shown me how to be thankful because of those same circumstances. In effect, God increased my faith by allowing me to travel through that tough time in order to bring me to the realization that not all bad things are… bad!
God allows circumstances and situations in our lives that are sometimes very difficult to navigate, and all He wants us to do is trust that He knows what is best for us. It is all about having faith in spite of not seeing or knowing the “why” of it. When we cannot understand the meaning behind our suffering, we immediately want to tell God how angry and frustrated we are. I know, because I’ve been there.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” —Hebrews 11:1
Faith essentially does not make sense to our human way of thinking. I guess that’s why it’s called faith: “a belief that is not based on proof,” according to the dictionary definition.
When we pray in faith, we are saying in effect that we believe God knows what is best for us—in spite of what our circumstances appear to be. We are ultimately acknowledging what we know to be true: God knows all and we do not!
In spite of that, we want to breeze through life without experiencing any kind of pain or disappointment. We think that “if only” this or that wasn’t happening in our lives, everything would be so much easier or better. If only we had more money or more time or better health or a larger home or a different job… and the list goes on. What if the circumstances in our lives—good or bad—are there to make us stronger? What if—bear with me here—we try to change our outlook so that the “bad stuff” doesn’t seem so bad after all?
“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” —George Seaton
Beloved, if life on earth was one big picnic would we ever yearn for heaven? Would we truly be able to appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross?
Oh, and our friend Job? In spite of all the horrible things that happened to him, “Job did not sin with his lips.” Obviously Job was not happy that he had lost so much and did not like what God was allowing in his life, but he trusted God even as he was going through that terrible time. Oh, that we could all be as Job and exhibit such trust in our Creator!
“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m thinking that life here on earth is meant to grow our faith, to show us how to life joyfully and victoriously because of our circumstances, not merely in spite of them. “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” (Psalm 104:33).
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” —Psalm 57:7
Still singing those praises, Beloved, even through the pain. NO one can steal my Joy!