We had the honor of hearing an amazing testimony of perseverance and redemption this past Sunday. It was a message that we needed to hear right now. How amazing is our God! We were feeling disappointment and despair over opposition. The speaker spoke about a season of great opposition and his feelings of failure and despair as a result. Peace came when he was able to turn all of his pain over to the Lord; relinquishing his attempts to mitigate it on his own. That’s a very short summary of an incredibly moving and encouraging story of God’s redemption. D and I were in tears.
When I face adversity, I immediately go into analysis mode and try to make sense of why it’s happening. I’m baffled by the opposition we’ve faced; it just doesn’t make any sense to me. And when I can’t make sense of it, I get angry or flounder in despair. I’ve asked God, “why is it so illogical and unfair?” I begin to doubt that God has heard any of our prayers or that he acknowledges the longing of our hearts. I start to think maybe we need to give up and change course. But the more I think about it and talk it out with D; that doesn’t seem like the answer. How then do we respond to this opposition? The answer, for me, came in another meaningful message we heard in this song with lyrics straight from Psalm 13 (written by a friend and sung during the offering on Sunday).
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Wow! There’s the answer — I will trust in his unfailing love and I will praise him because he has been good to me! David didn’t give up when it looked like his enemy had won.
I come back to this passage from James whenever I face “trials of many kinds”.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
I’ve sensed all along that God’s will is not the easy way in this journey and that we need to trust him more and more. It’s a path of increased faith for us. I know from past experience that when I’m at a place where I have to fully rely on God, it molds me more into his likeness — however incrementally that change happens. I surrender more because I see so clearly my need for him.
A couple other things that stood out in the message we heard yesterday was humility and the purposeful pursuit of truth. In the face of opposition, a fact finding mission was undertaken to verify their position, acknowledge mistakes and discover things that needed improvement or change. I’ve regularly asked God to reveal truth to us, to humble us and illuminate our blind spots. I have to believe, that even where we are unknowingly resistant, God is answering this request. All along the way, I’ve been prepared to let go of the dream or adjust the ways to attain it.
I’m amazed at how God uses his people to encourage one another and how his word comes alive. I praise the Lord when I hear harmonious messages from different directions that speak directly to my circumstances.