Maybe you have never had a season where you felt your back was against a wall. Maybe you’ve never felt your were standing between a rock and a hard place. I think if you are honest though, you’ll admit you’ve faced hard times. This certainly has been a long season of hardship for us and I have no answers for it.
As a woman of God, I can’t talk about hardships without addressing why it happens. Sometimes we simply cannot escape struggle because it’s just a fundamental part of life. Hardship befalls all of us at some point. The Lord doesn’t unjustly pour out hard seasons on just a few. For some reason experiencing hard seasons is part of his plan and no one escapes completely.
Perhaps some of us feel we have had more than our fair share. Maybe that’s what’s different. In truth, some do experience more. Glen never asked for a Father to die from MS or his grandfather to experience bipolar and shock treatments. Glen didn’t ask for bipolar to be a daily part of life yet God has allowed all these things. Fair? Not so much, but God is still a good God. Why? Because he never promises that we will escape hardship but that he will make a way for us to go through it and survive it!
That’s the part I hate. I’ve told God that I don’t want any more struggle. I’ve said it’s enough. I’ve told Him it seems so unfair. We’ve had way more losses than most couples. The prophet Job, in the middle of all his misery expressed this to his wife, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" Job 2:10 ESV. He poses a fair question. We seem to believe that God promises or owes us a life free of sorrows. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt this!! I have struggled believing that God is still good when I’m in the middle of the struggle.
I know this, oak trees are deeply rooted so they can survive the storms. Isaiah said it well, “to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:3 ESV
The one thing I have asked God to do for me in my current drought season is to keep me steady and to give me a testimony of his goodness through it. Hardships aren’t about me but about what I really believe inside. I have struggled mightily to believe God still cares about what I’m going through. My confidence has waned and self doubt really eats at me. I’ve felt he has been distant. I hate silence more than anything. I’ve felt he hasn’t heard my cries for help. I’ve felt abandoned and I’ve reflected on how insurmountable it all seems. I’m bobbing in the ocean up to my neck and yet I’m still floating.
So what’s the purpose of all this? Is it just to watch us squirm and struggle. Does God do that? I don’t think so. In every story I’ve read from His book, the struggle wrought about something greater. That’s the plan. Hanging on til that happens is where it gets difficult. Perhaps that’s the mystery of it. Maybe God is saying, dig deeper Joyce. Put down more roots. Don’t lose faith in the gifts I have given you when it gets difficult. Become an Oak of a Righteousness! And even more, can you trust me even when everything around you crumbles?
Maybe this is just for me today and if that’s the case, then I’ve felt strengthened by what I have written here. I have struggled with what to do. Where do I turn? What’s the next step? Have I missed something? Yet in all of it, I cannot move left or right, forward it back, I can only look up...and wait for God to act.
So, what do we do when we don’t know what else to do? Here are 3 tips for you and me that can help us weather the hard times.
When you don’t know what else to do, don’t to anything. I’ve felt like my feet are stuck in
muck. Do you know what that looks like? You’re almost knee deep is thick slimy
mud that sucks you down. It can become very difficult to move. You can’t go
left or right or backwards. You can only look upward with anticipation. And
here is where I find myself. All I can do is look up and hope the great big God
that I serve will come and rescue me. It takes great faith to believe that he’s
watching and planning my rescue. I trust His plan and pray for this season to
pass. Isn’t faith what is all about? Georgia
Don’t jump ship.
If you’re stuck in a place of hardship, it’s not always a sign that you’re doing something wrong. Jobs accusers were sure that Job has done something to merit all his losses. But that was far from the truth. I’ve felt like Job. I’ve heard the sting of judgmental words and felt embarrassed because people were sometimes just far too willing to explain why we were struggling and they were way too happy to offer answers...when all we need or want is someone to sit with us. They just want your trouble to be over so you’ll feel good again. Isn’t that the truth? People are just plain uncomfortable watching people struggle and they don’t like sticking around when there are no simple answers. Hmm?? It’s true. Job’s hardship was simple because God allowed it all. He was a righteous man and God gave the devil permission to inflict job with all his losses, troubles and sores. Wow! I’m right there now. I feel the devil made a deal with God to test us even greater than ever before. I’m standing alone, amid the losses and I’m looking up to the only one who can rescue me.
My final tip is this:
Fall to your knees.
Now when your stuck in
muck, falling in your knees
becomes impossible. But the heart can still pray whenever or wherever. I find
myself praying when I wake up, when I swim, while I’m working or doing dishes.
I Pray always because this is conversation with the God of the universe. I pray
because this is what he wants but I pray because it’s what I need. Our focus is
realigned when we pray. The focus shifts from our struggles to the one who owns
the struggle. Praying doesn’t necessarily remove the obstacle but it gets us
out of the way so God can work. Georgia
If you find yourself in the middle of the struggle, hold on. Tie a knot in the rope of faith. God is all I’ve got and He is all I need. I’m wrestling with Him. I’m telling Him I won’t let go till he blesses me again. I’m speaking his words back to Him. I’m claiming all His promises to be true because I’ve served Him long enough to know He is not a liar. These words are the very essence of my faith in Him. He has to come through because He promises to do so! He makes roads in the wilderness. He parts the waters of our red seas. He calms the storms and makes the waves obey Him.
If you’ve let go of the rope, ask God to forgive your lack of faith and grab hold once again. I can’t go a day without God. I don’t need God because I need a crutch or that I am weak and need something to believe in. I serve Him because I need a Savior. I’m not big enough to “man handle”my life. I need someone who can speak to the winds and waves and command them to be still. I need God because He changes people and things and He still works miracles...sometimes small daily ones. Nonetheless, this is the God is still serve even when I’m up to my neck in
muck and he seems no where
near. He is still God and he’s still God of my struggles. Georgia
I’ve asked for the testimony in all my struggles to be that people see, and that I see, that God always comes through; that He keeps His word. My words challenge myself as I write this. My barns are empty, and the olive crop seems to have failed for the first time in 10 years. There’s no fruit on the vines and yet like Habakkuk, I say:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.”