Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
The reason that I'm keeping a blog is to encourage others by what God is doing in me during this dark time of chronic sickness. I know that what I'm about to say may not be popular, and I am not trying to change anyone's theology, nevertheless, this is one thing that the Lord has encouraged me with lately.
We don't often equate hardship with God's kindness. Job got an earful from his friends about what hidden sins must be in his life when he endured more hardship than we can imagine. Jesus' disciples were convinced that the blind man in John 9 must have sinned or was born to sinful parents to be born blind. It's not too different today. We hear of God's favor being equated with good things happening from an earthly perspective. Not too many people will tell you how sick they are, depressed they are, how they were laid off, cheated on, foreclosed on, etc and then follow up with, "Isn't it great that I have so much favor from God on my life?! He must really love me to be allowing this." When my husband left for work this morning and my kids came into my room, my achy, feverish body was not saying, "Thank you, Lord for your goodness." I was crying out for help and relief.
But, here it is, "Endure hardship as discipline..." Proverbs 20:30, "Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being." Another favorite: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 1:2-3. Some verses are not so fun to relate to. But beloved of God, I want to remind you that when you are facing unrelenting hardship, you can rest assured that God is working in you and for you; that unrelenting hardship can serve as evidence that God loves you, has adopted you and is refining you.
I often think about David. While he was young, the priest of God anointed David King of Israel, he went on to slay Goliath, the enemy of Israel that everyone else was too scared to face. He was then brought to live in the palace and play music for King Saul. Things went downhill from there. He ran for his life for several years. I'm fairly certain this is not what he imagined for his life. Reading his Psalms tell us that He often cried out, "God, where are you?!"
My friend, I don't know what your hardship is. But, I know how hard it is to face another day knowing that you do not have the strength to do what needs to be done. I have often cried out in this time of chronic illness, "God where are you, why aren't you helping me?" If you are wondering where the evidence of God's love is, I don't judge or criticize you, I am often right there with you. It takes great faith to believe that God is showing us His love by allowing hardship. It is a dark time when you are facing the same illness, pain, depression, loneliness or whatever your hardship is, day after day with no end in sight
We cannot see what God is doing in the darkness. But, we have His promise that He is working in us and for us. We see a precedent of God doing a relentless, refining work in those whom He has great things in store for: Job was richer after his time of great suffering than before, David was king of Israel after years of running, Joseph saved nations by his God-given wisdom and leadership. What does God have in store for us?
To be clear, there is plenty of scripture that tells us that God wants to give us good gifts: James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." But, if you are in a season of hardship, you can consider yourself blessed and well favored.
1 A Contemplation of David. A Prayer when he was in the cave. I cry out to the Lord with my voice; With my voice to the Lord I make my supplication. 2 I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble. 3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk They have secretly set a snare for me. 4 Look on my right hand and see, For there is no one who acknowledges me; Refuge has failed me; No one cares for my soul. 5 I cried out to You, O Lord: I said, "You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living. 6 Attend to my cry, For I am brought very low; Deliver me from my persecutors, For they are stronger than I. 7 Bring my soul out of prison, That I may praise Your name; The righteous shall surround me, For You shall deal bountifully with me."
As always, He is with us, dear friend.