We all have pain in our lives; pain we feel each day, pain that causes us to fall asleep on tear-drenched pillows. The peace is in the fact that the pain won’t last. Jesus hates it when we hurt so He reaches down a hand to hold. Jesus knows the good that will come from our suffering but He will not allow us to suffer to alone; He is always with us. A little while back I had fallen from a rock wall and had landed on my face. Not wanting to go through my day with the big cut down my lip showing I proceeded to cover it with make up, guess what? It almost completely disappeared; on the surface everything seemed to be fine so no one knew the pain behind the makeup. All people use cover-up throughout their lives so that on the outside all looks fine and no body knows what’s going on on the inside, no body but Jesus. Does anyone remember the song ‘don’t cry out loud’? For how many people is this song their life motto? “I’ll be fine, I can stand strong, this is my problem not anyone else’s.” Sound familiar? This life has a way of knocking us back, but Jesus is there so we don’t hit the ground. We fall into His strong arms and like the best friend HE is, who always has our backs, Jesus straightens us up and faces our giants with us. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that we as people don’t feel comfortable sharing our pain with others, but we must never forget that Jesus is sharing our pain with us. He feels it too and understands. He cried alone in the garden so that we will NEVER have to cry alone. As you work at moving through your pain please remember, most of the people around you have pain they are moving through too and that they need you to be gentle with them, just as you need others to be gentle with you.
When you light a candle and sit basking in its glow you will always find that the closer you are to it the warmer you are, but the further you get from it the colder you get. It’s common knowledge. God is like that candle. At first we are lit on fire by the Holy Spirit; we seek and long for God, we search out ways to draw closer to Him and our hope grows and our Faith grows and we feel powerful because of Him! But as time goes on most people start to find that they don’t have the time to put into seeking God, or they just don’t feel like seeking God anymore. He’s always there right? Why should I seek after Him it’s not like He’s going anywhere! And these people find themselves growing farther away from God, farther away from the warmth and are now out in the cold. Has God left them out in the cold? Has He abandoned us in these times? NO! Our frigid existence is our own doing. God gave us free will and we want to be able to make our own choices, so why do we blame God when those choices draw us away from Him and we find Him hard to find? If you blow out the flame the warmth leaves with it.
What do you do when God seems hard to find? I heard a Church planter once say “God always hides in obvious places.” God is in your devotional reading, your worship time, your prayer time, your Bible reading, your Church attendance. God is always easy to find if you look for Him because He wants to be found. The more you seek Him the closer to the flame you get and the warmer you feel until all chill of the outside world washes away. All fear, sorrow, doubt is gone and you have the peace of Jesus and the comfort of the Hold Spirit and the always guiding hand of God, now you are safe and warm.
It happens often in movies and in novels, where the hero is backed against an impossible wall and there is no way to escape. Suddenly the hero cries out for help and out of nowhere appears an all powerful friend who turns the entire situation around, and now the hero and her/his pal are beating back the enemy until they are victorious! That’s us with Jesus. So often we find ourselves backed against a wall and realize there is no way we can save ourselves so we cry out to Jesus, “Help Me Lord! I am trapped! Deliver me!” and like the friend in all the movies Jesus comes to us and changes our whole situation until we can see a new horizon and an escape from our enemy. Unlike the fictional movie friend, Jesus is already there waiting for us to call on Him. He’s not far away and has to come running, it’s not that He’s just showed up at the right time, it’s that He is with us already, we just needed to come to Him for help. Now notice also how in the movies the friend and the “hero” have to still battle their way out? that can also be the case for us. Jesus comes to our aid but we still have to fight through our problems with constant prayer. We will be delivered it just sometimes takes time; the defeating blow to our enemy is that we are no longer fighting alone, the minuet Jesus is fighting with us the tables turn and we have the winning hand. Another thing I want to point out, have you ever noticed how the “hero’s” friend is often the true hero of the story? For example: Sam from Lord of the Rings, Toto from Wizard of Oz, Little Creek from Spirit, and so many others, always remember that we are not the hero of our story, Jesus is. He’s that friend who drives out the darkness and brings us hope. Our friend is there to help us because He loves us, and heroes always come to save those in need. Isn’t it nice that we have a real and alive hero who came to save us and is there to help us? A hero who goes by the name Jehovah.
In our lives we will undoubtedly come across mountains we have to climb; there’s no way past them but up. We stand there at the base of the mountain looking at the thick, prickly trees and the 80 degree uphill grade, the top of the mountain is so high it has it’s own, personal cloud and we think to ourselves, ‘there has to be another way.’ So we begin looking for an easier route.We walk for miles as far as we can go around the base of the mountain in one direction and then in the other. We then find ourselves standing in our original spot, 10 times more tired and 10 times more discouraged as we realize we just wasted all that time and energy looking for a way around a solid rock foundation and could have been at least a third of the way to the top by now if we had just hitched up our socks and started climbing. Does this sound familiar? Well I bet it did for Moses too, he waited 40 years in the desert 100% relying on God for EVERYTHING because his people didn’t want to go through the hardship that they would face in entering the promise land. In the end God showed them that the view from the top of the mountain is well worth the climb, but it took a while to get them up there. God gets it. He’s patient with us and waits as we weigh our options but in the end we have to climb. We may get dirty and bloody and sore climbing to the top but once we sit down on the summit and look at the rushing waterfall beneath us and the crisp, cloudy air around us cools and soothes our aching bones we realize that without the climb we would never have gotten to look down upon a rainbow. God pushes us for a reason. No matter what we go through He uses it to draw us into His presence and to show us His power. He is building us into who we were meant to be and even though other people might not understand the climb and might try to persuade you to stay in the valley you taking that first, second, third, final step is putting you in God’s will; what else could we possibly wish for?
Everyone has had to use it at sometime in their lives, the refresh button I mean. Whether it was the one on your phone, your computer, your video game console; the point is we have all probably had a point in our lives where it was necessary to hit that little button. There have probably been times when your device wouldn’t operate properly until you got out your paper clip, pulled out the end and gave the button a tap; Suddenly your device turns off, then back on and everything is as it should be.When God refreshes us it is much the same thing. I know that usually things aren’t completely they way they were but they FEEL better. My grandfather once preached on how a fair portion of our sufferings are caused by our minds, our situation or hurt might not be nearly so bad as our minds are making it out to be and when God refreshes us we can suddenly see the bright side. Our but God moment as my grandfather would say. That time when we were at the end of our strength, but God reached out His hand and pulled us through. God refreshes us and our souls have peace, we now feel we can take on our lives. Have you ever noticed how small the refresh button is? If you didn’t know it was there you probably wouldn’t even notice it. Sometimes that’s hope; so small that if you didn’t know that Jesus was there with you, loving you, you probably wouldn’t even notice it. The hope just needs a little focus to show us that we will be okay. If our eyes are on our frozen screen, we can’t see a solution around our problem so we panic and get frustrated; but if our eyes are on our refresh button (Jesus) we know that there is someone who can fix everything. We need to press into Him and feel Him take away all our fears and hurts and worries and refresh us. So try to remember that in our lives there will be problems, but we have a refresh button that can set everything right again, a refresh button that has overcome the world.
But if a man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name. -1Peter 4:16
Suffering, now that is something everyone knows a little about. The verse probably means to suffer for Christ, but when you think of it can also apply to suffering in general. When you suffer as a Christian you always have someone to turn to. When you suffer as a non-believer, you suffer alone. Suffering with God means you always have someone there, wiping your forehead, wrapping your bandage, helping you up the stairs, letting you cry on His shoulder, giving you a word of confidence and so much more. I have had suffering where I feel like I am completely alone; fear builds up and I feel like my tears are mine to bear in isolation, and then I feel Jesus. It can be something as little as opening my Bible app and the verse of the day is exactly what I am experiencing, or a song that comes on the radio that describes my situation. The one common thread in everything about suffering is God reaching out His hand and pulling the one in need through. The one bright light that makes all the trouble seem like it will come to an end is the mention of God. I almost said the simple mention of God, but there is nothing simple about Him, and bringing our eyes up to His level is AMAZING. Why would the Lord of all the earth allow us to be near Him? Why would He care? Because He loves us and always will! So if you are suffering; whether it is depression, illness, pain, fear, doubt, loss or anything else, turn your eyes to Jesus because He loves you! He is waiting for you to see that He is there to HELP, He never leaves us to suffer alone, our tears He always shares with us. So praise the Lord and trust him, through all your sufferings, and know that they are temporary, but Jesus is eternal.