Maybe this is why we are drawn to brilliant sunrises – the reminder that God brings newness every morning. When life is heavy with troubles and trials, pain and grief, we are filled with Joy in the morning.
Really! Did you know the Bible tells us to be truly glad even though we may have to endure many trials?
How in the world can we be “truly glad” when we look at the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, wildfires in 11 states and Canada, concerns heating up with North Korea, Rohingya refugees trying to escape from Myanmar to Bangladesh, persecution of Christians around the world, a loved one diagnosed with inoperable cancer, another bill that is coming due and the finances are so tight, job insecurity, car accidents, betrayal, hatred, bigotry and so much more.
I’ve been reading through 1 Peter recently. I was struck by verses 6 and 7 when we are told to:
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is GENUINE. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
All of the trials and struggles of this life are for a purpose. They are for strengthening our faith, the opportunity to see God’s sovereignty and provisions, and to truly know Jesus Christ is the ONLY Savior to all!
Our Bible study group just looked at the life of (Genesis 37-50). Why in the world would Joseph continue to be truly glad during his trials? He had dreams where he saw his brothers and father bowing down to him. He was hated by his brothers. His brothers stripped him of his colorful robe, was thrown into a dry well, sold to a caravan who sold him as a slave to Potiphar. Then when things were starting to look up and he found favor with Potiphar, Potiphar’s wife falsely accuses him of molesting her. Joseph is sent to jail. He is there for a few years when he interprets the dreams of the cup-bearer and baker, which Joseph interprets and the events come true. Again, several years later, Pharoah has a vision and no one can interpret it. The cup-bearer remembers Joseph. He is called from jail to interpret the dream and tells of 7 years of plentiful food in Egypt before 7 years of extreme famine. He is elevated to a position just under Pharoah. His brothers go to Egypt for food during the famine and eventually learn that their brother, Joseph, is very much alive – AFTER they had bowed down to an Egyptian ruler (Joseph) whom they didn’t know (fulfilling his dreams). Joseph forgives his brothers for their actions and tells them:
“I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping.7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. Genesis 45:4b-7
Then many years later when Jacob, Joseph’s father dies, the brothers figure now Joseph will get even with us. Genesis 50:19-20 says,
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
That’s it! Joseph could remain “truly glad” when throw in a pit, falsely accused, jailed, forgotten, or when he was unwanted or unloved because he knew God had a plan through all of his trials.
We all have burdens, worries, concerns, fears, and trials of some degree and magnitude. Yet when we surrender our lives to Jesus, we can be truly glad because we have the promise of eternal life and the knowledge of God’s having a plan for our lives from before we were born. (Psalm 139:16)
Wildfires: http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/wildfire/where-are-the-wildfires-burning and WeatherWizKids
Hurricanes: Harvey – Business Insider
Irma – NOAA and ABC News
New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The angel reassured them, “Don’t be afraid!” he said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today.” Luke 2:10-11
I LOVE reading the words – Don’t be afraid! They are written all through the Bible. But they are not easy words to understand and obey.
Can you imagine the setting? A peaceful, quiet night where the shepherds are quietly watching over their sheep. The fire is crackling. Sheep are probably pretty quiet with stomachs filled and resting for the evening. The shepherds main concern were wild animals and weather. When suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. And the first words out of the angel’s mouth – Don’t be afraid! Yeah, right!
We simply read Luke 2 as if it all took place during the period it takes to read the words. However, I’m guessing there was a little response from the shepherds when the glory of the Lord surrounded them. I would think it would take a few moments to let the shock of the angel’s appearing register before the message sunk in. But scripture tells us right after the angel’s message, he was suddenly joined by a host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
Can you imagine? God’s armies opened the heavens to celebrate the Messiah’s birth – God’s predestined plan that He would send His Son as our Savior – EVEN BEFORE He created any one of us!! God sent His Son as His gift of saving grace for each one of us. That grace fills us with God’s peace.
These days it seems like there is very little peace on earth good will to men. With the devastating shootings in Connecticut, to international uprisings, fiscal cliffs, divorce, chronic illness, pain, death, loss everywhere you turn – how can God’s Words be – Don’t be afraid – I bring you peace on earth?
I discovered a burglary at work recently. It was very unsettling to know someone is desparate enough to violate someone else’s space and take things that didn’t belong to them. God’s Word is the calm I found after that. Man can’t reassure me that it won’t happen again, but God fills me with His peace and reminds me – Don’t be afraid. One of the visible assurances that I fell to sleep with the first night was hugging a stuffed bear I received from my husband many years ago while I drifted off for a restful night of peace. Hugging the bear reminded me that God holds me tightly in His grip. He doesn’t let go.
John 10:28-29 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.
If our God who:
- Predestined (knew before hand) that He would send His Son, Jesus to be the Savior for all mankind – whom He had not created yet,
- Created the universe and mankind with a free will to choose to love and obey Him,
- Promises in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from His love, and
- Holds us so securely that no one can take us from His hand,
then His words should resound fully in our hearts – Don’t Be Afraid!!!
In John 16, Jesus assures His disciples that there will be peace – in Christ. Just before Jesus was arrested, crucified and resurrected, He shared these words with the disciples:
Then His disciples said, “At last You are speaking plainly and not figuratively. Now we understand that You know everything, and there’s no need to question You. From this we believe that You came from God.” Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving Me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
The peace from God is eternal. There will still be wars, death, pain, destruction, trials here on earth, but our peace comes from the assurance that Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and is reigning with God in glory. Therefore, Don’t Be Afraid!
I’ve been so blessed by the words of Laura Story’s, Blessings. She was newly married and her husband dealt with a brain tumor. She talks about blessings coming from the trials of life – What if trials of this life – the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are Your mercies in disguise. As the world struggles to cope with the destruction in this world, when we turn to God we will find our hope, joy and peace through His grace and love.
“When Jesus takes your hand, He keeps you tight. When Jesus keeps you tight, He leads you through your whole life. When Jesus leads you through your life, He brings you safely home.” ~ Corrie ten Boom
Praying that you may be filled to overflowing the the Peace of God that comes from the true meaning of Christmas ~ Faye
Sometimes life throws us some difficult curve balls. One wonders if God is really in control or even cares about what’s happening. Those are time times I am reminded of the verses from Jeremiah 29:11-13
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.”
In the past few weeks friends and family members have faced the loss of loved ones through aging and suicide. I’ve spoke with someone who grew up in a cult and has just recently seen her 30-year-old sibling come out of the cult. I’ve watched more and more people deal with health issues, job losses, financial difficulties, facing consequences for breaking the law, and marital problems. I want to ask God, “If He really cares, why doesn’t He do something to stop the pain?”
A while back I studied Carol Kent’s book Between a Rock and a Grace Place and tonight I found myself reflecting on a portion from her book:
If you too feel caught in one of those tight spots that seem unusually difficult, if not unbearable, I pray that you will come to realize that the pain of being in this place need not cause you to lose hope. If you press into the Rock instead of trying to get around it, you will discover a surprise far better than a birthday or a Christmas gift. On the road that is your life right now, you can find a new way of thinking about your circumstances, as well as an astonishing experience of grace, tailor-made just for you. As you encounter God on the way, not in the way, you may come to know Him as you never have before. Remember what Olympian Eric Liddle said, ‘Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.’
I’m so grateful God is in control of the universe from before time began. I’m glad we have the assurance that He cares so much for each of us that He blessed us with life-saving grace of His Son, Jesus Christ, our LORD.
Kent goes on to say, “God works best through broken people who know they do not have all the answers. He can use people who have exhausted their own resources and finally realize that negotiating the tight spots of life is not something they do by themselves.” I’m so grateful God uses ordinary people, people who have walked through pain and found the joy and hope only God can give.
Philip Yancey says, “The kind of faith God values seems to develop best when everything fuzzes over, when God stays silent, when the fog rolls in.” God gives more grace for each trial and burden that comes our way. The more we rely on Him, the more He answers and provides for us in ways that could only come from His hand.
Abundantly grateful for God’s presence through the difficult circumstances of our lives.