Tough Times

Published on Nov 6th, 2013 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0
Tough Times

Tough Times

At this moment there are a number of people at our church, or associated with our church, who are going through some very difficult times.  Some are struggling with health issues or broken bones, others are struggling financially, others are bearing the daily burdens of family lives that are less than perfect, others are being used at work, others are…well, you name it and people are struggling with it.  Don’t you wish that we could say that this is only a weird season and soon everyone will be fine again?  The truth is that we are always surround by suffering and difficult times; and, at times, we are the ones who are going through difficult times.  It is how life is.

One of the first things we need to realize is that suffering is not some random occurrence that has no purpose.  Think of the despair that would bring. Your only goal would be to escape and avoid the difficulties.  The Word of God teaches us that God is in control of all things, that all things are according to his plan, and that he has a reason and purpose for all things.  These truths give our suffering meaning and purpose.  They allow us the choice to count them as joy.  Without God we would desire to avoid and escape all suffering.  With God, our hearts can be made willing to persevere in our suffering because we know that God is using it to produce good in our lives.

Psalm 34 is a great Psalm for those who are going through difficult times.  Verses 1-3 are a great reminder to us that we have a choice as to what our attitude will be:

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.  My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble (afflicted) hear and be glad.  Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!”

This was written by David during some very difficult times in his life.  He needed to make a choice as to what his attitude would be.  He chose to bless the Lord at all times.  He chose to encourage the humble, or the afflicted, (interesting how both ideas are present in this word) to join him in praising the Lord.  This praise was coming from the depths of his soul.  He was not allowing the external, difficult times to change what he knew to be true in his soul.  He was one of God’s and God is worthy to be praised.

I love verse 8.  “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”. I remember reading that verse when my nine year old nephew passed away.  I didn’t think I could swallow big chunks of truths about God at that time.  I could, though, nibble on some truths, try to take refuge in him and see what happened.  God did not disappoint.  Soon I was longing for the peace and comfort that only he could bring.  I heard and saw him everywhere.  His beauty overwhelmed the darkness of death.  Maybe you can’t swallow huge truths of God’s plan or purpose today but you can choose to take a nibble of truth about God.  You can choose to seek refuge in him.  Soon you will find that his glory will swallow your concerns and pains of today.

Let me leave you with this truth, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit”  Psalm 34: 17,18.  Let me encourage you today to not simply cry.  I am sure that the pain and suffering that you are experiencing is worthy of a good cry; but, today, cry out for help.  Ask God for deliverance but also ask him to fill your heart with the knowledge of him.  Meditate on that knowledge so that he will  overwhelm your heart and fill it with joy.  Look for him, not just for deliverance, but for the beauty of who he is.  Know that your suffering is purposeful and for his glory and your good.  Bless the Lord at all times.  Be such a light in the times of your difficulty that those who do not know him are drawn to him by your choice of joy.  Listen for him.  C.S. Lewis said this, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to our conscience, but shouts in our pain.”  He wants you to hear him.  He wants you to realize that he has not forgotten you in your pain but is refining you in the fire, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 1:6,7

 

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