This has been a hard week for me amidst the times of great joy, good surprises, and laughter. I listened to the song “Have Your Way” by Britt Nicole the other day and when the lyrics came back to mind, I thought it would be great inspiration for what to teach this week. On my drive to work, I heard a reminder of how God never leaves us and a verse from Psalm 34 which ties in perfectly. Here is the inspiration for the week before I go any farther.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9_caMq_iYc]
My favorite lyrics in the song are these:
Feels like I’ve been here forever
Why can’t You just intervene?
Do You see the tears keep falling?
And I’m falling apart at the seams
But You never said the road would be easy
But You said that You would never leave
And You never promised that this life wasn’t hard
But You promised You’d take care of me
So I’ll stop searching for the answers
I’ll stop praying for an escape
And I’ll trust You God with where I am
And believe that You will have Your way
Just have Your way, just have Your way
This perfectly describes how I’ve felt lately. “God, it’s been this same situation for so long. Can’t You just fix it already?” is my constant question. Contrary to popular opinion it isn’t wrong to question God. It isn’t wrong to wonder how He’s going to work things out that you logically can’t see. He isn’t angry when I ask these questions and remind Him of my human nature, my finite understanding, and my inability to see what He is doing. He doesn’t mind when I don’t understand, but He wants me to continue to trust Him regardless. Many times He uses these hard times to remind me to spend time with Him and maintain a close relationship that I often push to the back burner when my life is going great. He also uses these times to grow in me the character He desires for me to have. I love Psalm 34 and the reminder of who God is and how I need to respond during these times of difficulty. Read it below. Note that when it was originally written, the writer put a great deal of time and effort into making this an acrostic poem which meant that each part started with each letter of the alphabet in order (shown by the number in bold).
1 I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
2 I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.
3 Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
6 In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
7 For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
9 Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, and listen to me,
and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
12 Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?
13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
his ears are open to their cries for help.
16 But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.
17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
not one of them is broken!
21 Calamity will surely destroy the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
Even when we go through hard times, we must remember that the same God who was with us through the last trial, the same comforter that helped us continue on in spite of brokenness, grief, sin, or pain, the same Jesus who loved us enough to die on the cross for us and forgive us of our sins is the same One who is still good and still with us even when we can’t see the way through.
Hebrews 13:5-6 is another really encouraging passage for us to be reminded that He is always with us:
5 Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,
“I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.”
6 So we can say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper,
so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me?”
When I went to find this verse, I thought maybe I had remembered the reference wrong because I only knew the second part of verse five. It’s funny to go back and see that the part about money is actually in there prior to being reminded that He won’t fail or abandon us. I find that interesting because so many of our problems come back to money. Shelter, safety, food, clothing, a job, transportation . . . all of those things require money or they are for money. Especially when you are going through financial problems and the numbers don’t add up, it’s easy to wonder how you can continue to trust God because clearly “numbers don’t lie”. But at the same time, it’s important for us to realize that the amount of a bill, the size of a paycheck, or the estimated monthly budget doesn’t tell anything about who God is, what He can do, or what He is going to do in that situation.
Even when I don’t see a way through and it feels like nothing is ever going to change, it is crucial for me to take the time to be reminded of who God is and that He is a good God. More than anything, it’s not even really about the situation. It’s about me. Or in your situation, you. It doesn’t so much matter what happens, but it matters what my response is.
While I don’t see a quick resolution to my current woes, I know that I have to continue to trust the Lord and believe that He is going to continue to work everything out. With this belief, I have to promises that I can stand on. The first is Romans 8:28 which almost seems cliché to put here because it has been so overused, but the truth of it is still the same no matter how many times I’ve heard it:
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
The second promise is from John 16:33 and totally not what you would think I’d put here:
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Did you catch the promise? The promise is that “you will have many trials and sorrows”! Yet, when they happen I’m always like:
James 1:2-5 (NKJV) reminds us bluntly that we are going to have trials (notice when, not if) and that these are opportunities for us to trust God and have the blessing through that. Moreover, if I don’t have the wisdom to know what my next step is or to be able to react rightly to the situation, I can ask God for wisdom and He promises to give it.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
While you will face trials and hardships, I encourage you to know that it won’t last forever and that God is still with you. I once heard “Never question in the darkness what you knew in the light” and I find this to be very true as this is the temptation when I face these times. I pray that You will continue to get closer to God when things are rough and you wonder if He’s there rather than getting farther away from Him when you need Him most. God bless you this week.