Are you being pressed right now?
Times exist in our lives, in which the pressures and struggles of life seem to come crashing down on us all at once. While a lot of times we can navigate life with a few issues cropping up, here or there, we will periodically come across the avalanche of “all at once.”
These times are perfect for us to truly test our strength, and see where our real convictions sit. Most of us believe that we carry the foundational truths well enough to react the way Christ wants us to, but until we are immersed in real life, we can definitely believe the illusion that we are responding the way we are supposed to.
Right now, I'm learning a lot about faith, promises, prayer and the Lord. I'm not going to get into details about my life, but needless to say, a lot is happening. I'm feeling the press of life in a lot of different areas, and certain areas are impossible to overcome...in the world's eyes.
For the past few weeks, my wife and I have been hit by one thing after another. Vehicles, major life changes, house repairs, medical issues, work problems, scheduling conflicts and all the rest. Work problems have mounted up against me and have slowed my progress on different projects rather drastically. Some people have become disgruntled against me for reasons beyond my understanding, and of course the ridicule and attacks from our organizations detractors has picked up quite a bit.
Plenty of people point to the old Christian adage that when spiritual attack increases, it means you're on the right path and having an effect for the kingdom.
This can placate someone for a little bit, but when you're in the thick of it, telling yourself that it's spiritual attack doesn't necessarily remove the pain and struggle. Unfortunately, people don't know what to say or how to console, and so they resort to platitudes with a hail mary pass attempt, in hopes that they can some how help you out.
It's not their fault, though they're following in the same foot steps as the friends of Job.
In case you don't know the story of Job, let me fill you in.
Job was a righteous dude. The most righteous. In fact, he was so blameless, God let Satan attack Job, to prove Satan wrong. You see, Satan thought that Job was only righteous because God was so kind and good to him. Take away the family and the wealth, and Job would turn on God.
God said, “Go ahead, try him.”
So Satan attacked Job and made a mess of his life. All his kids died. All his livestock died. He lost his wealth and reputation. His health got attacked. Even his own wife told him, “Curse God and die.”
But Job never cursed God. Instead, he cried out a lot, basically asking, “Why, God?” Job's friends in turn tried to tell Job that he must have done something wrong, and that he was unrighteous. God would only do this if Job were a bad person.
Bad theology aside (God makes it rain on the just and unjust alike), the friends did something that not even God Himself did.
The friends tried to answer the question “why.” God came in, and gave a big ol' slap to Job with his response. Instead of saying, “This is why I did this...” He said, “Where were you when I...”
What kind of answer is that?
God answers Job by saying how Job wasn't there when God did all these great things, and Job couldn't possibly do God's job? Seems a little arrogant. Just answer the question for the guy. He's in pain.
But when we stop for a moment, we see that God was in fact striking down Job's desire to ask the question “why?” Job was intent on getting an answer that he could understand, and God was telling Him, “You couldn't possibly understand why I do what I do. Stop asking and just focus on my greatness.”
This question of “why?” can sink us before we ever get a chance to float. When the world comes crashing down on us, we revert back to our most basic functions. Most of us want to know the answer to “why”, as though this will somehow aid us in dealing with the stress and struggle at hand. But it's a false answer, because having that answer so rarely does anything meaningful for us. Instead, it just gives us something to ruminate on, clogging our focus and attention on the one thing that matters: God.
Going through everything the past few weeks has been illuminating. It has not been easy, and I've hit a couple moments where I felt I truly was pushed to my brink. But the entire time, I'm thankful to say, that my heart fought to keep focused on faith in God, His promises, my faith in the fact that He'll answer my prayers, and gratefulness for His hand in my life.
My heart position in the past has been grumbling, frustration, anger, bitterness, and plenty of “Why God? I don't understand!” These fits of heart chaos only created in me confusion and separation from God. They provided me with no tangible progress, instead leading me to feel guilty and ashamed when the situation resolved itself.
I would look back in the aftermath and realize that I had reacted in a truly immature manner, and felt ashamed that I could act like that towards the Lord.
This time around, I've pushed myself to go deeper in having faith that the Lord will provide, and that the deep chaos I'm being surround by will not take me down. My prayers have been prayers of promise and speaking to exactly what I need. Once those prayers are prayed, I hold faith that God will answer them and provide exactly what I need. I refuse to allow myself to doubt that He would give what was needed to solve the issues happening. I continue to move forward, and am thankful in the midst of the struggle. I thank Him for what He is about to do. I rejoice in the fact that my Father is there for me.
Have all of my problems been solved? Not by a long shot. But He has truly come through in some cool ways that are truly testimonies to Him.
I don't want to divulge the testimonies of what He's doing for my family, but let me be clear: things have happened that cannot be explained away, except by recognizing that God has His hand intimately in my affairs. I'm so unbelievably grateful that I get to see how He's working through all of this, and He's bringing glory to Himself, as well as turning what is dead into something with life. I know that when we come out of this situation, we'll be better for it.
And the ending is just as important as the events. In the story of Job, God doesn't just leave him sitting by the side of the road. After checking Job's wrong mindset, God goes and gives back to Job everything he lost...in double. Twice as many kids, twice as many livestock, his reputation was rebuilt and his whole life was restored.
Our faith in the Lord's goodness means we keep ourselves available to receive the blessings He's prepared for us, if only we'd continue in faith with Him and see everything through.
I've learned quite a bit through this season, and I get to watch God move in real-time. There's no bigger blessing than getting to see Him actively move on your behalf, and to be reminded that the God of all Heaven and Earth is on your side and moving for your favor. His heart is for His children, and despite what the enemy tells us: God doesn't want us to be miserable. He may know that problems and deep times of struggle are coming, but those times can be beautiful when we move in faith in Him, rely on what we know of His character, and continue to pray with spiritual authority.
So the question to you is: is it time for you to shed off the old ways of doubt, struggle, complaining and “why”?