I received a text today. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:28-29). I was encouraged and grateful to be reminded that the Lord works tirelessly to give me strength.
I was weary this morning. Tired of fighting the same battle. Weary of meeting the same resistance. So I did what I am learning to do first. Instead of phoning a friend to complain or rehearse the wounds with a counsellor, only to realize through all the talking, not a lot has changed. I choose to go first to the one who himself is not bound by time or season or circumstance. I go to Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith. He is the one who so completely understands my heart, my desires, my dreams and my motivations.
He created me with the passion that is inside me and knows each and every obstacle that I will face. He sees the things that trip me up before I do. And He doesn’t stand back and shake his head in disappointment when I walk right into a pit. He just waits for me to go running back to him.
Another couple verses jumped out at me today as I have been running back to Jesus. They are, also, from Isaiah. “You restored me to health and let me live. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back. For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness” Isaiah 38: 16-18.
“Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish”…really? There is benefit in anguish? I remember when I was first married, my husband and I tried to do devotions together before work. We memorized some passages in scripture and one of them was Philippians 3:10, I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. There it is again…fellowship in sharing in his sufferings.
I wonder if it is a spirit of pride that boast, yes, I will suffer for Jesus. And then when the trials come and the hurt and betrayal occur, we wonder why this is happening. And yet, we declare we desire to become Christlike. We are tested, we are refined, we are moulded and shaped through our circumstances, through our decisions, through our relationships.
Jesus never promised that following Him wouldn’t come with a cost. He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us. And the cross we bear is one that comes with power to stand under temptation and to defeat the enemy. So in those times, when the mountain seems daunting, or my heart does not feel like it can bear the weight of hurt, I have to look for Jesus. He says He is there with me. I, honestly, just close my eyes and ask… “Jesus, are you here? Jesus, are you here with me…in this mess. I’m sinking. Please don’t let me go down into the pit.” But here’s the catch…and in fact the harder conversation. I have to ask Him what to do. “Jesus, how do I get out of the pit? What do I need to do? Is this sin? Is this the enemy? What do I have to lay at your cross?” And then, I have to have ears to hear.
He does speak. Sometimes, I feel, it is not that he is “not” speaking, it is because we are not hearing. I wrote this status update recently: God doesn’t care what you have, He cares about what has you! I was really reflecting on whose voice speaks the loudest in our ears. Is it Jesus? Or someone else or something else that has taken the place of authority in our lives.
Even good things can become idols when we allow them to be the loudest voice we hear or the focus of our attention, time and effort. I am asking myself this today: who am I listening to? What has my attention? Am I fully engaged with what he has called me to do today, or am I distracted, pulled away through the influence of another, louder voice. In the battle, Jesus will be my strength, but He can only do that if I am hearing, if I am listening for Him to speak. If I am not hearing his encouragement, His exhortation, His direction, His plan, I am going to stay in this pit. I don’t know about you, but being in the pit, sucks!!
Jesus, are you here? Can we chat for a bit??