"What is God teaching you?" I was asked by two family members. "Pain, suffering, misery," I said melodramatically as if my life could not be any worse. The truth is I know I've been through worse situations to the point of seeking counseling to recover from them. What made this situation different?
The comparison game to other people is just as bad as the comparison game with your own situations. Just because you have been through a more difficult situation doesn't make the current situation any more, or less difficult. What is God teaching me? When is he not teaching me something? Sometimes I feel like life is a big game and no matter what I do there is going to be the same outcome. Some things are in my control and other things are not; and some things I took into my control and now it is uncontrollable. Human error is one of my biggest questions for God that is tied to free-will.
How much will God allow for my mistakes to take me off course? If he doesn't allow me to go off course, then he is the author of my suffering and why fight it or try. If he will allow me to go off course full throttle then I am the author of my own suffering and one of two things happens. I either dig my claws in deeper and I start to exert an unhealthy amount of control and stress over the situation, or I become apathetic and just go through the motions with no real care.
Maybe this is where faith comes into play. In any of the above scenarios, it would take faith for me to step back and ask God, "Why am I suffering right now?" Is it simply a test of my character, is it to understand others who suffer, is it to force me to reach out to others, or is it something that is yet to be revealed? I can't change how I got into this perceived mess, whether it was God's doing or my own doing, the fact of the matter is I'm here now. It would be the most advantageous to my own spiritual and emotional health to draw closer to God through it then to pull away.
Some people pull away out of a distrust of God and some people pull away out of a distrust of God. What I mean is that there are two types of distrust. One person pulls away because they believe God to no longer be good, no longer be for them, and no longer faithful to His promises to the point they question if He even exists. The other form of distrust is a person who knows and believes in God, but they no longer trust Him with their heart. They build a wall up as they do with any other person in their life that has hurt them. They start to treat God with their defense mechanism because they cannot bare the hurt, heartache and pain. They think pain God has allowed is the same as pain given to them by broken people and a broken world.
One person has rejected God's goodness and the other has simply closed themselves off to God's goodness. For the one who has rejected God I would say, "When did God go from good to evil in your eyes and is it true? Do you really believe God is not good, despite your past experiences with Him?" To the other person who has closed their heart I would say, "When has closing yourself off to God helped you? When have you felt the most loved, cared for, hopeful, and fulfilled? Was it with or without God?"
For the first person, they may have ulterior motives in that they want an excuse to reject God so that they can behave their own way. Rejecting God based on difficult circumstances is the fastest way to give one's self permission to live as the world lives and indulge in the gratification of the flesh. For the second person it truly is a matter of faith or misplaced faith. If God is good and your best moments in life include God, then why would excluding him during the worst time be a logical choice? Wouldn't it make more sense to include him in the worst times because that is the foundation of your positive experiences in life.
Don't leave the foundation to stand on your own unwavering feelings, thinking that if you moved location that the storm will disappear. Don't fall for the trap that self-isolation is a stronger fortress then God as your fortress. When I look at my life from this perspective, my isolation is me with a hoody, covering myself from the cold on a stranded island beach in the middle of a rainstorm. God as a fortress, I can't even imagine what this would look like if I could see it.
"The Lord is good,Nahum 1:7
A stronghold in the day of trouble,
and he knows those who take refuge in Him."
Think of any book that you have read, castle you have seen built by man, or strongholds projected onto the theater screen. How many of these buildings eventually crumble and fall either from battle or the hands of time? When the Bible speaks of our God as a fortress, it is immovable and imperishable. It is also deeply personal and purposeful
"God is our refuge and strength,Psalm 46:1b-3
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah."
Even if the physical landscape were to give way to an end of the world, extension level event; it will not move this place of refuge and safety. Who can harm me when I seek shelter within His walls? What can destroy me when I go to the inner sanctums of His courts? It is not protected by some sort of magic or outside force because the fortress is the very presence of God. He places himself around you and his protection is the Spirit. Jesus sacrificed his own body so that we could enter the Holy of Holies and stand before God in the most sacred place of the temple. Who is sitting on the thrown and who is at His right hand? The King of Kings and Lord of Lord's says we are under his protection, we belong to Him and His kingdom now and His kingdom to come.
He is a present help while we wait for a future glory. I am not alone; I do not need to pull away from God in apathy. I need to lean into him with hope and expectation. People say Christianity is just a crutch, but I would say it's the safest dwelling place I can run to in times of trouble. My faith is not a crutch it's a strong tower, an impenetrable gate, a heavily guarded fort, a fortress with walls that are unshakable.
What people without this faith do not understand is that we live in the land of the amputated, we have cut off our own legs with our mistakes and imperfection. You are leaning on something whether you know it or not. People can easily identify the Christian is leaning on their unseen faith and rarely see they have propped themselves up on something of their own making.
For the Christian, the missing appendage isn't a problem because we are carried into the dwelling place of God. We have no need to stand because we only need to fall to our knees before our almighty God, our sustainer, our maker, our savior, and our King. Amen!
"He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;Psalm 46:10-11
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress."
In Truth & Love,