As some of you may know, the last 12 months have been the most trying, overwhelming, difficult months of my life. I went from having a stable and comfortable job of which I was passionate about to being jobless for 8 months. I went from having a reliable car to having issue after issue, leading to thousands spent in repairs and ultimately being car-less for 2 months. I could go on, but that’s not the point of this post.
I struggled through so much in trying to reconcile just why God would put me through such trials; I mean, I was being faithful, wasn’t I? [note: I do not believe (intellectually) that my works provide God any sort of incentive or necessity to bless me or give me a comfortable life; I do not control God nor does he owe me anything, but if I’m being honest, this is what I often felt (functionally).] I struggled as everything around me was shaking. Everything was being “tried by fire” so to speak, and I was really wrestling with what God meant to do with all of this. My job, my car, my savings, all of it was being pressed–and hard.
As this season continued I had to press into the scripture. I needed to hear from the living God. Throughout this season I was able to hold on to a couple promises to provide hope and joy in the midst of it. Hebrews 12:26-28, one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible, speaks of the removal of “shakeable” things, that the unshakeable foundation of Christ will remain–needless to say, this rang truer to me in this time than in most others I had felt. Another portion of scripture which rang particularly true to me in this time were the Psalms. These were raw accounts–frustration, heartache, confusion, pain, turmoil, temptation, anger–of prayer to God, and the turning to trust and hope in Him, knowing He is faithful, worthy, steadfast, and ALWAYS true to His word.
Today I came across another verse which I feel gives peace to a lot of my frustrations, questions, confusion, and doubt amidst these circumstances.
John 12:24 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
I would often plead to God, “Why is this happening to me? How could this be your will? What lesson are you trying to teach me?” and I am honestly starting to feel that John 12:24 is exactly it. Jesus Himself compares his true followers to a grain of wheat, which must die and be put into the ground in order to bear fruit. Just the same, I see this to mean that we are stretched, we are tested, we struggle, and this serves to reveal to us where our devotion truly lies. I like to say “You only know what a person believes in by what they suffer for–not what they say.” Paul says that we die to sin and in turn are Alive in Christ (Romans 6:1-14); he continually uses the terminology of a “new self” in comparison to the “old self” which has been ‘put away’ or died (crucified).
So put bluntly: I believe God was allowing my (false) foundations and securities to be shaken. He was removing the idol of my job, the idol of comfort, the idol of security, the idol of thinking that I can do well enough on my own, and continually revealing to me that HE Himself is the only one that will never leave me or forsake me (Joshua 1:5, 2 Corinthians 4:9), that will never change (Hebrews 13:8), and will be with us [me!] always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20b). This ‘death’ was that I may ‘bear [more] fruit.’
The purpose of me writing this is to provide hope. Maybe you’re going through an exceptionally rough time in your life; maybe God seems distant to you or inactive in your life; maybe all the things you thought were secure and comfortable in your life are being ripped away, altered, and shaken.
I write this to breathe life into the situation. God is not absent, far from you, or uncaring. He is working out something so unimaginable in ever single thing that He does. God knows what He’s up to, His promises are sure; and He can be trusted [always]!
In closing, here are a few more verses which have ministered to me over the past 12 months, and I pray that the Holy Spirit will ignite your spirit with these truths:
Isaiah 48:10 – “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.”
(our affliction is refining us, not destroying us)
Daniel 11:35 – “..and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time.”
(we may stumble, but there is a purpose and a promise within it)
James 1:2-4 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
(these trials are for our joy, steadfastness, and sanctification)
Romans 5:3-5 – “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
(this suffering, this season, these tensions yield more endurance, character, hope, and confirmation of the Holy Spirit than could ever be accomplished without it; God is working something amazing out. Keep your eyes open!)