But we know from God's word that those are lies. Throughout the Old Testament, Israel walked away from God many, many times, but every time they repented they were forgiven. God's nature is unchangable. He's the same today as yesterday and will be tomorrow. And hard times? We're going to have them. But God doesn't cause the trouble. He's the one who helps us through it. Jesus said it well: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."- John 17:33 (emphasis mine)
So if trouble in this life is to be expected, how do we get through it? Today in church my Pastor gave us four ideas:
1. Don't walk away from God when things get tough. Persevere. Lean into him instead of away.
2. Don't put your securities into this life. Build up instead your treasure in heaven for where your treasure is, there is where your heart will be.
3. Respond to suffering in this life with praise and thanksgiving. WHAT?!
No matter what trial you're going through you can praise God for something. I praise him for forgiving me no matter how many times I fall. I praise him because no matter how much pain I have now, in heaven I'll be given a perfect body that will never experience pain again. I praise God for loving me though I don't deserve it. I praise God that he's promised that I'll have an eternal life that will be beyond imagination.
Kinda like that!
4. Recognize where your life is off kilter with God and repent of it, if that's the problem.
Peace comes from our relationship with God despite our circumstances. I've learned a lot about that lately; check out some of my past posts. Several times over the past year I've come very close to losing a friend that I love dearly, but I can say that out of these trials I know that I'm closer to God because of it. It's been an agonizing time for me, but God truly carried me through it. Perseverance has made me stronger.
If the trouble comes as a consequence of wrongdoing, just get up, dust yourself off, and tell him you're sorry. He created us; he knows we're not perfect and loves us anyway. Remember the story of the lost sheep? Jesus told it this way:
"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."- Luke 15:4-7
In our Christian walk it's important to examine our hearts and keep them right with God. It's so easy to go astray and wander off like a lost sheep. But how wonderful to know that he will put us around his shoulders, carry us home and rejoice! It's an honor to serve a faithful and loving Father.
May our lives be pleasing to him, may we keep the faith through the storms of this life, and rest in the arms of the one who holds the universe in his hands.
Wishing you blessings as always, and-
many thanks to my Pastor who was the inspiration for this post.
I hope you like the little fishes!