A devotion by Cheryl Zelenka
“Through affliction, He teaches us precious lessons that otherwise we would never learn. By affliction, He shows us our emptiness and weakness, draws us to the throne of grace, purifies our affections, weans us from the world and makes us long for heaven.” ~J.C. Ryle
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12 (NIV)
When difficult times knock you down, roll over and look up at the stars. It’s okay if you don’t have the strength to stand up right away. Facing unexpected trials can knock over even the most mature Christians. Reasons for a fall will differ from believer to believer. However, I do guarantee that Satan knows the vulnerable spots in every believer’s armor and will not hesitate to aim fiery darts in his or her direction.
Trials are a part of life, and affliction usually accompanies them. Nobody can escape this. Joy and love, sorrow and hardships—these are what face us as we journey to our forever home after we die. We should try to accept that trials are part of our journeys in life and attempt to build up our spiritual muscles. We can do this by reading the Word of God.
In the first chapter of James, we are told to count trials as pure joy. How is this possible, and why is it a joyful thing to face difficulties? It is because the testing of your faith produces perseverance. When perseverance has finished its work, you will be mature in your faith, lacking nothing.
If you find yourself facedown in a puddle of mud and tears, you could drown! Roll over and gaze up at the heavens. Meditate on the constellations and imagine the one who designed it all. He is powerful. Better yet, He is powerful and loving. His compassions are new every morning. Tomorrow will be a fresh start. Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Faith requires that you accept the truth of this Scripture, even though you may not see the good in your circumstances right now. God has a plan for your life, and He has allowed or sent your difficulty for a good reason.
Oswald Chambers wrote, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” Corrie ten Boom spent the first fifty years of her life learning lessons of love and forgiveness so that she could teach the world how to be more like Christ. God sent hardships her way and permitted trials in her life that transformed her character and refined her spirit.
Endurance and perseverance belong to the same family. They are cousins and true allies. Throughout your trial, you must hold on to the biblical fact that God will never leave you or forsake you. Your desert journey, or the hurricane you are experiencing, is only for a season. You will not live a life of sorrows. Your weeping will eventually turn into dancing. A joyful song will once again rise issue from your lips. God loves to whisper words of hope and encouragement into the heart of a suffering and weary child. He walks with you through every one of your struggles.
So, while on your back, you will see the beauty of the night. Not all darkness is ugly and fearsome. Behold the lights God has provided in the darkest of times. A zillion pinpoints provide us with not only illumination, but also with the ability to navigate. It is true that in stormy weather it is harder to find your way, but storms do not last forever. If you are feeling lost, rest and wait for the weather to clear. Eventually, you will be able to navigate and continue on your journey. God will help you get back on your feet, but you have to will yourself to live and roll over.
Meditate on the three Bible verses below:
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:3–5 (NIV)
“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so.” Genesis 1:14–15 (NIV)
“O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit. O restore me to health and make me live.” Isaiah 38:16 (ESV)
*This Devotion Is the first one in my book, FACING TRIALS: THOUGHTS FOR MEDITATION
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