Adversity. I finally figured out what to call what I have been going through for years. In his great mercy, God finally opened my eyes to see and granted me some comforting perspective. I have been getting little bits and pieces as I have been studying the Bible throughout those years, but not the full picture.
Last week has been quite the week for me. I hope yours was been better than mine! External forces created quite the havoc in our home and interestingly enough it was the week I was trying to finish up listening to Chip Ingram’s series on adversity called Keep Pressing Ahead which studies the book of Nehemiah. I was also continuing deeper in the Not Consumed: Reclaiming Your Life From The Grip Of Circumstances study by Kim Sorgius from Not Consumed ministries. Both of them are so, so good and God has used them mightily in my life.
One scripture in my Not Consumed devotional was from Proverbs:
for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you,
But I wondered what brought about those amazing things. So, looking back into the chapter, I read this:
My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
So the reality is this. If you want wisdom, knowledge, discretion and understanding then you must
- receive God’s words
- treasure up his commands
- be attentive with your ears
- incline your heart to understanding
- call out for insight
- seek the fear of the Lord as silver
- search for the fear of the Lord as if it were hidden treasures
Wow. Thats quite a promise and that’s one that only the Lord can initiate for it is Him who opens our eyes and makes our heart to long for Him and seek Him. I am praising God that He doesn’t leave us in our sin or in our own way but pursues His children. He has sure pursued me in the past couple weeks. I’d like to tell you the story.
Two days ago I finished the 6 part series on Adversity from Chip Ingram. Each one was relevant in some way. I identified with the spiritual battle aspect of adversity and the gaining perspective aspect. Both of those seemed true. And then I listened to the final sermon which was on personal failure. And God used that one the most. He showed me the sin of my anger and not trusting him among other things. And he showed me that the correct response was not to wallow in sorrow and condemnation but to rejoice in His mercy. This is the response of the Israelites when Nehemiah read the scriptures to them and they realized how much they had messed up. Amazingly and interestingly enough, God allowed their eyes to be opened during a celebratory feast time when they had to be celebrating! God sure covers all the bases and has prefect timing.
So the next morning, I read the day’s devotions from the Not Consumed study and came face to face with this verse from Isaiah.
“Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.
Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
This you shall have from My hand:
You shall lie down in torment.
It couldn’t have been any more blunt! Conviction! The words just jumped right off the page confirming what God led me to the day before. I have been kindling my own fire trying to solve the issues with Big Bro. That equals not trusting God. Yeah, I was in torment… exhausted, angry, reaping no benefit for me struggle, even bruised.
The next day this promise appeared and it was the very same one he gave me when we began homeschooling.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The adversity lesson I learned was this. I am in the middle of a spiritual battle because I am obeying the Lord’s call to blog here and launch #LiftingAmericaUpInPrayer. The spiritual battle is also because I am fighting to raise my boys to be men of faith and the devil knows their personalities will be a force to be reckoned with if they are walking with God. But most importantly, He brought my sin into the light through this adversity and I was able to get right with Him. I was led to confess my sin of anger and not trusting God.
In action, that means I need to stop striving to fix everything, especially the issues with Big Bro. That means spending time in prayer praying the will of God which I find in scripture. Truthfully, the only will of God we can know for sure is what is found in scripture. Our prayers will go unanswered if they are not within the will of God. (Romans 8:25-27) This means that we need to be in the word so that we know the truth and consequently will know how to pray and then we can trust that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us to the Lord.
Even more amazing is what I read to the boys during Bible time from Exodus. In chapter 14, we read the story of the exodus and of the people being pursued by the Egyptians. This is what Moses tells the people:
And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
God is so good. He has been dripping that message to me for a little while but it has completely sunk in now. Stop, pray, and watch.
I stand amazed before him and so thankful for His guidance and love. I pray that you will be encouraged and inspired to seek the Lord in your own life if you are going through adversity. Seek to figure out its source and what God may be doing in your life. It may not be because of sin, it may be because He is about to do an amazing thing through you. But we can be sure that His hand is upon us if we are struggling and walking through a rough spot in life.
Understanding won’t necessarily make the struggle disappear, but it will provide the balm of perspective which in turn will give you strength to persevere through the trial. It will also provide peace. If you are struggling today, friend, take comfort in the face that He will not let you go!