Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stand on Your Knees! The Sun WILL Rise after the Night

I have been observing that there seems to be a sudden surge of utter despair overcoming people.  This life is full of ups and downs.  Living this life carries with it the promise that not only will we face joys but that we will also face great sorrows.  It seems to me too many people are being tempted to give up in total hopelessness rather than endure and push through with perseverance.  It truly breaks my heart.  As all these things happen, I am reminded of something I wrote a long time ago and eventually posted on this site in the post God is Hope.

I am currently 44 years old.  I have faced my share of joys and sorrows.  I’ve had my share of trials and sufferings—as a child, as a youth, as a young adult, and as a full grown adult.  I have faced the death of loved ones.  I have faced the heartache of being forsaken and abandoned by those who had previously claimed to love me.  I have felt the bitter sting of hatred from those I love deeply.  Some of the trials have certainly felt like much more than I wanted to endure or felt like I could endure.  Some of the trials lasted a short time (days or months) while others went on for years, which felt to me like an eternity.  During some of those trials, I was tempted to give up all hope and despair completely.  My spiritual enemy and adversary of God, the devil, lied to me and tried to convince me to give up hope and to give up my faith in God.  There were times when the spiritual enemy even tried to convince me that death was better than life. 

Who brings utter despair knocking on the door of our soul?

Oh, that devil, the father of lies, is really good at whispering convincing lies to us.  Deceptions and lies is part of what the devil does best. 

“…the Adversary…He was a mankiller from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, for truth is not in him.  Whenever he may be speaking a lie, he is speaking of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it.”  (John 8:44, CLNT)

This week I was journaling and thinking about all the current circumstances and trials.  I was pondering the encouragement I received from reading and taking to heart Ephesians 6:

“…for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places…”  (Ephesians 6:12, NAS)

Those words inspire me and help me to love unconditionally, even when I am deeply hurt by the actions of others.  That verse makes me realize that conditional love is a byproduct of the devil’s craftiness and deceit.  He causes us to focus on the flesh and the wrongdoings of another person(s) so we will lose sight of the actuality that he’s working out his schemes and deceptions against us.  If he can keep our focus on people and on blaming them, cursing them, or hating them, he can also promote and accomplish a greater disruption and chaos in our lives.  As we focus on earthly things and people (flesh and blood) instead of what Ephesians 6:12 says (spiritual forces of darkness and wickedness), we lose sight of the reality that the devil, the adversary of God, is the source of the blame, the lies, the hating.  He’s the promoter of it all—the one stuffing it down our ears and into our minds in order to create strife and division between us and to keep us from love and unity.

After pondering those aspects of the devil, I was led to read something in the Dabhar literal Bible translation.  It defined the name Devil (Diabolos in the Greek language) as this:

“Diabolos is derived from “dia” meaning “through” and “bole” meaning “cast” and is translated “through-caster”.  It is one of the designations of Satan by which his character of causing disorder, confusion, and chaos is shown up.  It also points out the method of distorting the truth by twisting and exchanging, e.g. by confusing cause and effect, by advancing divine aims, or by recommending them without a way or with a wrong way.  Through-casting also means to use words of the Writ but to give them a wrong meaning, i.e. to interpret them with a falsified content or to put them into a wrong context.” (Concept explanations, pg. 949, in Dabhar translation, Vol. 2)

What does that “through-caster”, the devil and adversary of God, do best?  He distorts the truth by twisting it and changing it up for a lie.  He did this when he lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden.  He told her some truth, added a bit of lies, and planted seeds of enough doubt which convinced Eve what he spoke was the truth.  The devil creates confusion and falsifies in such a conniving way that makes him quite convincing.  He uses some truth and adds just enough deception for it to poison our souls, our minds, our lives, our faith, our relationships, and the love in those relationships.  He is good at being sneaky so as to not make us suspicious this is what he is doing.  He repeatedly whispers here and there and is persistent over a long period of time.  How hard he works at convincing people, especially the youth, that they should simply despair of life altogether and that it is better to be dead than to live and discover a victory past the current struggles or trials.  The adversary of God wants their impact upon this world removed.  He is a man killer, a liar, and a destroyer.  And he will go to great lengths trying to accomplish his goals.

I speak of the devil and his ways not because I care to give him too much importance (for God is greater!).  However, I desire to make people aware of his schemes.  This is how he consistently works against us.  If we can understand that we truly do not struggle against flesh and blood (the earthly) but against the darkness and wickedness of the spiritual realm, we will be able to face our trials and tribulations viewing them in a totally different light and with greater strength.

How do we endure the hardest of trials?

From where do we gain the strength to endure and persevere when we feel we can’t possibly muster another ounce of it ourselves?

"...we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us...that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope.  And He will yet deliver us..."  (2 Corinthians 1:8-10, NAS)

How do we go on when we feel like we can’t endure one more difficulty or walk one more step?

“…be invigorated in the Lord and in the might of His strength…”
(Ephesians 6:10)

I’ve said this to friends many times:  “I don’t know how I could possibly endure the hardest seasons of life without God.  I don’t know how people who do not have a faith and hope in God are able to endure.”

I still feel that way today.  Even having a faith and hope in God, days have come which have literally planted my face to the floor.  The pressure and intensity have shaken my faith and my hope to the core.  Days have come in which I have questioned God and questioned whether I should go on trusting or believing Him.  Days have come in which I have truly felt I was at my limit and could endure no more.  On some of those days, all I may have been able to muster in communication with God was a very desperate “help me”.  On others of those days, I wasn’t able to even do that much, being at a total loss for words.  And yet, I know that I do not have to come up with words for my Father God and my Lord Jesus Christ to hear my soul’s desperate pleas. 

“…the spirit (of God) also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the spirit is, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  (Romans 8:26-27, NAS)

Our ability to endure, persevere, and overcome comes out of God and through the Lord Jesus Christ. 

“For we have not a Chief Priest not able to sympathize with our infirmities, but One Who has been tried in all respects like us, apart from sin.  We may be coming, then, with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may be obtaining mercy and finding grace for opportune help…In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”  (Hebrews 4:15-16, CLNT and Hebrews 6:7-8, NAS)

Jesus Christ can sympathize with our infirmities, has been tried in all respects like us, though without committing any sin.  Therefore, we can boldly present ourselves to Him in the midst of our greatest, most urgent need and obtain mercy, grace, and help.  Jesus Christ can identify with your sorrow, your suffering, your temptations, and the feeling that you can’t possibly endure any longer.  He has faced it and felt it all.  What did He do as He faced such trials and tribulations in His earthly flesh?  He cried out to God.  And so should we.

In Matthew 4, we are given an account of some of the temptations Jesus faced on this earth.  The account begins by telling us this: “Thereupon Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the desolate region to be tempted by the Diabolos…”  (Matthew 4:1, Dabhar)  The spirit of God specifically led Jesus into the desert for the purpose of putting Him to the test.  Jesus was led to the desert to be tempted by the devil.  This temptation did not occur when Jesus was at his strongest or at his best.  No, the temptation ensued when Jesus was at his weakest point of the flesh.  “And fasting forty days and forty nights, He hungered hereafter.  And the tempter having come said to Him…”  (Matthew 4:2-3, Dabhar)  When the flesh was severely weakened by hunger and desperate to be satisfied, the adversary of God came to do his tempting.  The devil first tempted Jesus by suggesting he satisfy the desperate hungering need of his body with food.  When Jesus declined that invitation, the devil suggested Jesus put God to the test by throwing himself from a building to an impending death so God would rescue him.  When Jesus proclaimed He was not willing to test God, the devil appealed to the flesh’s greed for power.  He promised Jesus the kingdoms of the world, if Jesus would only bow down and worship him.  Again, Jesus declined his offer.  After facing, enduring, and persevering through all three temptations, the adversary of God left Jesus alone and angels from God came to take care of Him.

Jesus was not rescued out of the temptations. He was given the grace, strength, and wisdom to endure and persevere through them.  After the time of trial was over, He was ministered to by messengers of God.  And Jesus learned from the trial.  He learned obedience to the Father’s will and how to sympathize with mankind's weaknesses and temptations.

In Luke 22, we are given an account of Jesus facing the most miserable anguish and desperation as he anticipated the physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering which would ultimately lead to His death.  He pleaded to God, His Father, to rescue Him from the looming trial that felt like more than He can bear.  “Father, if You determine it so, then this cup is to be carried by away from Me, whereas, not My will, but let Yours become.”  (Luke 22:42, Dabhar)  Jesus pleaded with His Father to take the cup of suffering from Him while also declaring, “not my will, but yours be done.”  However, it was not God’s will for Jesus to be plucked out and rescued from the suffering.  Past the trial and suffering was a glory awaiting revelation.  Some of the worst trials or sufferings must take place before some of the most glorious and blessed future events can follow. 

"...tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the holy spirit who was given to us [those who believe in Christ]..." (Romans 5:3-5)

Whether we want to accept it or not, trials and sufferings are great teachers.  It is through difficulty that we learn the most.  What I have learned as I endured and walked through the past trials gives me greater hope for today and the future.  As I grow older, the trials do not get easier.  As I grow older and endure and persevere through trials and sufferings, my wisdom grows, my patience grows, my trust and faith in God grows, my endurance grows, my compassion grows, my love grows, my grace grows, my perseverance grows, and my hope grows.  Without the trials and sufferings, there would be no growth to speak of.   Does that mean that in the midst of them my heart doesn’t break and that my patience, hope, and faith aren’t tested?  No. They are. Does it mean my spiritual enemy, the devil, doesn’t lie to me and tempt me to despair or to test God?  No.  He does.  My heart breaks, countless tears certainly fall, I may throw tantrums, and I may question God and face bitter disappointment.  But I have realized that if ultimately God is not my Hope for redemption, then truly I am lost to misery in all counts.  It is God Who gives value and meaning to me as a person, to my life, my trials, my victories, my joys, and my sorrows.  In His light and in His hands, everything is of value, nothing is unimportant, and all is part of a future only He can clearly see because He ordained it long ago.

“…be invigorated in the Lord and in the might of His strengthPut on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For your struggle is not against your parents or any other authority over you, it is against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Stand firm, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, having put on the breast plate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition  to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.  With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints…”  (Ephesians 6:10-18)

I titled this post “Stand on Your Knees!  The Sun Will Rise after the Night”.  While you may consider standing on your knees an oxymoron, I assure you it is not meant as such.  The reason I have been able to endure, persevere, and come through victorious on the other side of the most difficult trials is because I have cried out to God for help, strength, and grace to endure and make it through.  I don’t necessarily pray on my knees or with my eyes closed.  My conversations with God take place anytime, anywhere.  When I suggest you face your trials by “standing on your knees” I mean it metaphorically.  I mean to say that you can face your trials and endure by crying out to God and throwing yourself with abandon into His arms.  No, He may not quickly pluck you out of that trial.  In fact, the reality is that He probably won’t.  No, He may not do things the way you think they should be done.  No, He may not miraculously stop all the pain.  But He will be there.  You may become convinced He’s not hearing you.  You may feel like He’s not listening to anything you say.   The devil may try to assure you God has totally abandoned you and is not coming to your aid.  But the truth is that God is always with you.  He is hearing you. He is listening.  And He will never, ever abandon you.  Be persistent in your crying out to God, no matter the immediate results or lack thereof.  It is through that persistent seeking and calling out to Him while you are “standing on your knees” that strength and endurance will also come.

As we seek and call out to God for help, we should also seek the comfort and company of those who truly care for us.  The devil strives to isolate us and remove us from those who care about us so he can make us even more vulnerable and continue to feed us lies.  We should surround ourselves with people who not only sincerely love us but who will also honestly speak the truth to us.

If you remember nothing else after reading this post, I hope and pray that you will remember this:

The sun will rise again after the night!  The night may last for days or months or years, but the sun will rise again after a period difficulty or suffering.  I have experienced it in my life over and over and over again.  While I am in the midst of the trial it seems like it will never end, but hang on and don’t give up, because it will end and there will be joy and blessings afterwards.  Seasons of life’s circumstances come and go as the seasons of the earth.  I know it hurts really deep.   I hurt right now too.  As I write this I am enduring a trial that has lasted for years and breaks my heart in a million pieces.  I’m not offering clichés.  I am offering you Hope Himself.  Our Father God and Lord Jesus Christ are getting me through, day by day, minute by minute.  Talking to God, crying to Him, calling out to Him, trusting in His sovereignty, and believing in His redemption is what is getting me through.  I don’t know how much longer this trial will endure, but I know that one day it will all be redeemed by the Great Redeemer Himself.  I believe this for myself and for every other person on this earth.

"As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives..."  
(Job 19:25, NAS)

In closing, I’d like to share two songs that have literally carried me through this past week and encouraged me in the saddest and most painful moments.  Maybe they will encourage you too.

“Stand” by Britt Nicole

"The Sun is Rising" by Britt Nicole

Related posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for reading and for your comment. *All* spam will be promptly deleted, so do not waste your time or mine.