The Good Thing about Hard Times

In the midst of all that’s going on in this world, it is easy for you to allow fear to grip your hearts.

Fear of the future, fear of sickness and death, fear of lack of resources, fear of the unknown. I know for my personal life, one fear has attempted to break my peace consistantly and that is the fear of suffering in some way.

Whether it’s suffering in finances, in lacking resources needed for my family, in the economy, whatever it is, there’s this uneasiness about my comfort being attacked in some way. My daily “normal” somehow changing. It can definitely be scary.

Obviously I am not the only one who feels this uneasiness, as toilet paper was the first thing we ran for during the scare. Toilet paper. Think about it. Something that is NOT a necessity being bought over food or water. Because of this one word that has imprisoned us for way too long: comfort.

I was reading in Romans today, seeking peace for my soul during this time and stumbled upon a passage I have read many times. But often His Word jumps out at us when we need it, so I figured I would share.

Romans 5:3-5 – “Moreover (let us also be full of joy now!) Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character (of this sort) produces (the habit of) joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.”

Wow! What peace this can give us if we center our hearts on its promises. All too often as Christian’s these days, we pray for things like character, patience, integrity, more faith, more hope, and yet we never seem to pray for suffering or trials (I know, who would?)

But think about it. This scripture shows you the formula to having joy, peace, faith, and character; trials and sufferings which lead to endurance. All too often we pray for miracles in our lives and yet would pray against situations where God would be able to work miracles.

“Lord, please deliver us from bondage of the Pharoah BUT why have You led us to the Red Sea to be killed?!?” Sound familiar? The Israelites wanted the freedom without discomfort. But without discomfort the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea would never have been needed. Without sickness, we wouldn’t see His healings. Without struggle, we wouldn’t see His mighty provision. Without discomfort, we cannot grow.

So I take this time in my personal life to do as His Word tells us and exult in trials and sufferings. During this time where comfort and “normal” seem out of reach, this is a time to buckle down and praise the Lord that we are gaining endurance and patience. That we are learning what it means to rely solely on Him and not ourselves, our social lives, or our government. That during this time of stretching we can be thankful and renew our minds to see everything as He does and not what our flesh wants.

Take this time of isolation and really learn to be dependent on God. This is a time where distraction has been wiped out of most of our lives. Distraction and comfort that all too often keep us from our true Love and our families. Stop complaining, worrying, and fearing, and start praising God and thanking Him for your blessings, your life, and the ability to grow in Him.

Hard times are hard but they always restore my faith a little because it always seems that hard times produce such beautiful fruit in humanity. We see communities come together, servants appear in this individualistic selfish world, and neighborly love everywhere we look. Once again the principles of the Word evident all around us.

I wanted to encourage you in this time to look at things in a different way. Stay in your Word, keep your minds renewed, and walk in thanksgiving. Love you all! Happy homemaking!

He is with You in the Fire

In Daniel chapter three, the story of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abed-Nego is told. I am sure you have read the story before (if not I urge you to), but essentially what happens is they are ordered to bend down and worship the image of King Nebuchadnezzar every time they hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, or psaltery. What happens is they of course do not worship another god, and so they are ordered to be put into the furnace.

When the king says they will be put into the furnace, he asks, “Who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” They answer essentially, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image you have set up.”

Later on, while they are in the fire, bound, those who were viewing it asked if the king had ordered only three men to be cast into the furnace, because as they looked they said, “I see four men loose (remember they were bound), walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

When they were released, they had not been touched by the fire. Not one hair had been singed, not one piece of clothing affected; the smell of smoke was not even on them.

God was speaking to me about this story the other day. Many times we pray for the storms and trials of this life not to touch us. We ask to be delivered from hardships and trouble, yet at the same time we pray to see the miracles of God at work in our life. Without trouble, how can we see miracles?

If the Israelites had not been pushed to the edge of the Red Sea without hope, how could the miracle of God splitting it be done? We want the splitting of the Red Sea, without the Egyptians following behind us. We want to see God come through mightily in our lives, without being placed in the furnace. We need to have the attitude of these three, who believe in the deliverance of God, but still say, “But if not…” We often will serve God and walk in faith as long as things are going our way. “I will serve you God, as long as it seems you are on my side.” We need to tell the enemy, “Listen, My God loves me and will deliver me from this storm, BUT IF NOT, I will still serve Him and love Him, because He is my God.” Adopt this attitude, and watch your life change.

With all that said, there was something more that God showed me through this story I had never seen before. Jesus was with them; He joined them in the fire.

With Christmas coming, it is a time we remember the story of Jesus’ birth. And we think of the baby in the manger, with the angels and gifts, and we smile. What we forget is that we are celebrating WHY He came. He didn’t come to just be a baby in a manger, He came to set us free from death and sin. And to do this He had to come wrapped in flesh.

He came in the flesh so that He could be tempted as we are, tried as we are, and troubled as we are. Yet, He did it without sin. He came in the flesh and suffered in the flesh; beaten, bruised, battered, crucified. All so that we could be free.

You see just as Jesus joined Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the furnace that day, so He “joined” us in our suffering here on Earth. Without Him, we would remain a people separated from the presence of God. Sick, dead, without hope. Now, because He joined us in the fire of humanity, we are given a hope, a new life, and complete restoration.

While this story can show how in the midst of our trials, God will show His glory, cover us in His presence, and protect us, there is also another beautiful thing. You see, God loved us so much, and was so tired of being separated from His people, He joined us.

In the furnace we set ablaze for ourselves through sin, Jesus stepped in to join in our suffering. As the three left the furnace, remember the fourth never stepped out. The three left completely untouched by the flames that were supposed to kill them. Not one hair singed. No smell of fire.

Just as that, because Jesus came and stood in our place, we can stand without a single hair singed from death and no stench of sin on us any longer. What was meant to kill us and separate us from God forever, Jesus entered into and stood in our place and now we have an Advocate at the throne.

I say all of this because this season, I believe people need to remember three things.

1. Some people need to remember the WHY behind Jesus’ coming. It was not to make you go to church more, to read your bible, or to “do” good things. It was to set you free from sin and death so that you can be one with the Father. If you aren’t one with God, ask Him to be one with you. Ask Him to forgive you and set you free. Ask Him to reign in your life. Religious duties will never stand in the gap for true relationship with God. He didn’t create you for church going, bible reading, and works. He created you for communion with Him. Remember this and be free.

2. Some people need some hope. You have been in a season of nothing but trial and tribulation. Maybe you are still in the midst of it and you are without hope. This is to remind you that we are never without hope in God, because we have a God Who loves us so much He joins us in our suffering. He didn’t leave you to suffer alone, but gladly came down and suffered in your place. Remember His faithfulness and hope in this. Trials end, but His faithfulness remains forever. Where catastrophe and storm has bruised and battered you, remember He is the God Who restores completely. When you come out of this, not one hair will be singed, and no one will be able to smell the fire you have been through. Have hope and expect in Him!

3. Remember they were bound in the fire before Jesus came. If you are bound and do not have the Lord in your life, He can set you free. What man had done to them, God had completely erased. What man had ordained for them, God rewrote their story. If the people in this world have touched your life in such a way that you believe the lie you are forever scarred and cursed to live in chains they have spoken over you, remember this: only God has the power to tell your story. What harm they intended for you, God will turn around for His Glory. You are not stained by your past, but God is the Master Artist Who can make all things new.

I want everyone in this Christmas season, not to rely on the pretty, “baby in a manger” scene. That baby in the manger was the King of everything. That baby was sent to suffer, on our behalf. That baby, after suffering for us, came back and took His seat beside the Father. We are co-heirs with Christ. This means you are no orphan, you are no victim, you are no poor man. You are new in Christ, you are a slave to sin no longer. You do not live in fear. You walk with authority and the power of God! I’m tired of seeing Christians continuing in bondage, when your inheritance is so much more. Accept the freedom due you, and walk in it.

I love you all and remember, happy homemaking! Make that home a powerful place of God’s presence and restoration!