Can there ever be genuine unrest with believers in God concerning their being “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6)? When there is, it’s solely attributed to the unlearned believer concerning the completeness of Jesus’ efficacy in His once-borne Cross, for Scripture makes it repeatedly clear that the saint in Christ has full title to “the answer of a good conscience toward God” (1Pe 3:21). The security of God’s “hand” (Jhn 10:29) will be insufficiently appropriated in the conscience until the “once for all time” (Heb 10:10 - NLT) Christ’s expiation for the believers sins is clearly and permanently settled in the mind. Only one distraction can interfere here, and that is trusting in “the arm of flesh” instead of “the arm of God!”
On which of these two are we dependent? There can be no admixture here in any degree of varying percentages, no, not even “a little leaven” of one. For there to be steadfastness of conscientious-assurance, it can only be all of the Spirit of God, for “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (Luk 13:21
1Co 5:6; Gal 5:9)! Without fail, we will continue to be taught that disappointment can always be attributed—somewhere along the line—to self-dependence, because God cannot disappoint; and it’s the seemingly smallest elements of self-sufficiency that are the most difficult to identify and put in check.
The Two Peaces
There are two states which must exist at one and the same time in order to ensure happy and steady walk. The one is peace with God (how I accept His satisfaction concerning me in Christ—NC); the other, the peace of God with me (my appropriation of His peace through this wilderness—NC). In the first, my heart so rests on God’s satisfaction in the work of His Son on the Cross, that it is His satisfaction which I share. I cannot reach up to or measure the satisfaction of God, or know fully how He was glorified in the way the Lord Jesus answered to all the holiness of the Father; but I am lost in the satisfaction of my Father, who can and does receive me according to His love in righteousness.
It is then that I have peace with God! There is not an element to disturb; He has freed me through His Son from every atom of the offending thing (old man—NC). He has done it according to His own nature, that He might receive me to Himself according to His love. His satisfaction is proved in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Heb 13:20), and I trust in it, and not in the satisfaction of my own conscience about my sins; and then and there I have peace with my Father. This is one state; and if this state be not preserved, there will be no surmounting the pressure of the flesh, or the general atmosphere around.
In this state you are like a cedar tree, with nature and purpose to rise in height above everything: its course is always upward, for in that direction is its growth. The Heart at peace with God always finds that its course is upward, and its retreat and home above, and to this end all its strength and energy tend; and unless you are strong and mature in peace with the Father, you will not be able to seek His peace in your circumstances, which is another state.
Now this additional state—God’s peace keeping my heart and mind through Christ Jesus—is not enjoyed unless I have learned confidence in my Father, and can open all my heart to Him, and let Him see in detail the good and the sorrowful in my heart. It requires much confidence to do this; to empty out all the furniture of the heart to the Father, praising Him for the good parts (there’s nothing good except what is from Himself), and calling His attention to the broken ones. It is then that the peace of God keeps the heart and mind through Christ Jesus. The greatest wonder is that one like you or me should be kept in the midst of the most vexing elements, in the same state as the blessed Father is on His throne, and it is the greatest favor that He could confer upon anyone on earth. Surely it “passeth all understanding” (Phl 4:7); and then it is you are not only a cedar tree, but everything you do or touch, every bit of furniture in your heart is made of cedar wood and bears its fragrance.
In peace with the Father, you soar to the heavens, and having made known all your requests to Him, you have His peace imparting its wondrous values to you in everything here. In the power of life the cedar tree rises to its true place; but it is through death that its wood is available for furniture, and for use it must be cut down and seasoned. Thus it must be with you, as to these two states. In the power of the Spirit of life you rise to your appointed home; you are always reaching upward; the door in thrown open, you have boldness to enter into the Holiest of All; nothing lower is your position.
But as to your circumstances here, the more dead you are, the better will be the wood for use, and the more you will be a vessel fit for the Master’s use. It is death in this scene, and life in Christ outside it. The Lord grant that each of us may know more of these two states; and if the Lord detains you here for another year in the wilderness, may you be deeply and largely acquainted with this double blessing.
—J B Stoney (1814-97)
April 8: TRIUMPH IN TRIAL
“If there is a great trial in your life today, do not own it as a defeat, but continue, by faith, to claim the victory through Him who is able to make you more than conqueror, and a glorious triumph will soon be apparent. Let us learn that in all the hard places our Father brings us into, He is making opportunities for us to exercise such faith in Him as will bring about blessed results and greatly glorify His Name.”
- Miles J Stanford
I apologize if this isn't the right place to post something like this - and please tell me if it isn't! I have written about 100 pages that I believe would ultimately make up between a quarter and a third of a complete fantasy novel. It's been very slow going and I'm hoping that if I start sharing it and getting feedback (constructive and/or encouraging) I'll be motivated to keep going. Anyway, this is a little less than half of the first chapter, titled "The Bahtu". If you decide check it out, thanks, and let me know what you think!
Autumn had arrived in Windle. After more than two years of drought there were few signs to mark the change in seasons — few leaves to change color and fall, and no harvest to speak of for the handful of farmers still trying to make a living in the shallow rocky soil of the eastern region. The sun hung a little lower in the sky, though, and the awful heat of summer was giving way to cooler temperatures, which Horsley was enjoying immensely as he sat on the covered balcony in front of his home having dinner with his daughter, Saira. They sat at a small, ornately carved square table that had been a wedding gift of sorts for him and his wife, Alensa. Horsley had actually made the table himself at the very end of his apprenticeship with Alensa’s father. He told Horsley that it had been ordered by a very important customer, so it had to be truly exceptional, and it would serve as a final test to complete his apprenticeship. When the table was finished, it was as beautiful as anything Alensa’s father had made himself (or at least he told Horsley that it was), and Horsley and Alensa, who were engaged at the time, turned out to be the very important customers. It was a very fine gift, somehow even more so because Horsley had made it himself, and Alensa loved it dearly. Shortly after she died, Horsley moved the table out onto the balcony, knowing that it would always cause him to think of her. It was about that same time that Saira began asking to have dinner on the balcony almost every night.
Tomorrow would mark the one-year anniversary of Alensa’s death, and as Horsley looked at Saira now, he was struck by how much she looked like her mother. She was growing into her ears, which had always been narrower and less furry than Horsley’s but had still seemed comically large when she was younger. “Every puggin has big ears when they’re little,” Alensa had assured him, and of course she was right, but Horsley had always been a little self-conscious about his own big ears, and he feared what inheriting the trait might do for the prospects of an otherwise lovely daughter. Now Saira, who had just turned twelve, looked far too much like the beautiful piksin Horsley remembered meeting in Pagston so many years ago. He remembered how he had felt about Alensa then, and found himself wishing that Saira’s funny ears had not been so quick to recede.
“What are you thinking about, Daddy?” Saira asked as she poked at the dried tomato that served as the highlight of the evening’s meal. “You look kind of sad.”
Horsley took a long breath and gazed out toward the hills that lay just east of town, taking a moment to think before answering. He had decided not to treat the anniversary as a special day, but he was having second thoughts about it. After all this time it seemed like he and Saira were just coming out of the worst of the grief, and he was reluctant to invite it back. On the other hand, what would Saira think if she remembered and he said nothing about it?
He settled on a simple, half-true response. “I was just thinking about how much you look like your Mom,” he said.
Saira smiled an embarrassed smile that lit up her whole face. It was one of Horsley’s favorite of her many smiles, making it one of his favorite things in all the world. Then Saira shifted a little nervously in her chair, looking up at the ceiling like she wanted to say something more but was having a hard time finding the words. Horsley didn’t press, enjoying the quiet evening and the light cool breeze. Alensa had always wanted to know every thought in Saira’s head, but Horsley didn’t have that kind of courage.
“Daddy?” Saira said at last.
“You know tomorrow is the day that Momma died, right?”
Well that answered that. Horsley gave a long sigh. “Yeah. I was thinking about that too. I wasn’t sure if I should say anything. Sorry, I probably should have.”
Saira brushed the apology aside. “No, I understand. I was just thinking…” She looked up toward the ceiling again.
“What is it? Is there something special you’d like to do tomorrow? Maybe we could light a candle for her during the Ceremonies, or say a prayer?” Horsley instantly regretted this last bit, having avoided praying out loud at the Ceremonies his entire adult life.
“Actually...” and now Saira seemed really nervous. “I was thinking… maybe we could miss the Ceremonies tomorrow?” She pulled her knees up to her face, barely peeking above them as she waited for Horsley’s response.
He was startled by the outsized rush of anger that he felt at this request, and he did his best to check it. He knew that he shouldn’t be angry, at least not with Saira, and she was obviously already worried about how he would react.
“Why would you want to skip the Ceremonies?” he asked, forcing a smile and trying to sound only curious. “I think we even have a Singer visiting tomorrow, so it should be pretty good.”
Saira peeked out a little from behind her knees. “Well, you know, Momma didn’t always go to the Ceremonies. Sometimes she liked to go up into the hills and just spend time by herself singing and praying. I feel like that was really important to her.” Saira was looking directly at Horsley now, and he could see tears beginning to well up in her pretty brown eyes. “She only took me with her a few times, but I have really good memories of it.”
Horsley wasn’t prepared for this at all. He was flooded with the emotions he had felt at those same times - fear, anger, and suspicion of betrayal. He thought he’d gotten past it all, but it seemed that he had just learned to stop thinking about it. Now Saira was asking to mark the anniversary of Alensa’s death in a way that would be sure to dredge it all back up.
Horsley was struggling to answer when he noticed Malti Dibbins stepping out from her small house just across the narrow cobblestone street from theirs. She seemed very upset, and it occurred to Horsley that he hadn’t noticed her son, Geldon, return home from the mines yet. It wasn’t all that uncommon for him to get back as late as this, or even later, but the evenings were growing shorter, and Malti was quick to worry anyway.
“Daddy,” Saira asked tentatively, “what do you think?”
“Just a minute,” Horsley said, glad to be able to dodge the question for the moment. “It looks like Malti’s upset. Hi Malti,” he shouted, trying for her sake to sound more cheerful than he felt just then. “Is everything all right?”
“Oh, hi Horsley, Saira,” she said, glancing in their direction before looking anxiously back down the street toward the hills. “I was expecting Geldon by now. It’s going to be dark soon…” Geldon was Malti’s only child, and though he was twenty-five years old, they still lived together in the home where he had been born. Geldon was past the age when most puggins married, but fathers were reluctant to give their daughters to a miner these days, preferring arrangements that provided opportunities outside of Windle.
“I don’t think it’ll be dark for another hour at least,” Horsley said. “I’m sure he’ll be back any minute. Do you want to come join us up here, and we can wait for him together?”
Malti continued to peer down the street, not answering right away. She was only about ten years older than Horsley, but he had always thought of her as older than she was. She was an “old married piksin” with a four-year-old son when Horsley left to apprentice in Pagston at the age of fourteen. When Horsley’s mother died, not long after a sudden illness brought him back to Windle with his new family to care for her, Malti became like a mother to Horsley and Alensa, and like a grandmother to Saira. She also had a habit of worrying, made worse when her husband died in a mining accident ten years ago, that had added years to her face.
“Thank you, Horsley,” she answered at last. “That would be nice. I’ll just get some tea for us and be right over.” A year ago, before the drought had made flour as precious as gold, it would have been tea and cookies. Now even the tea was a luxury.
As Malti disappeared back inside, Horsley was left alone with Saira again. He looked at her and sighed. “Let me think about it,” he said at last. “I understand why you would ask. I really do. But the Ceremonies are important, especially here in Windle. Especially now.”
Saira frowned. “I know they’re important to you, but I want tomorrow to be about Momma.” She looked away from him, probably fighting back tears. “I don’t mean I never want to go to the Ceremonies again. Just not tomorrow.”
She made it sound so simple, but it wasn’t really simple at all. Maybe Windle was no longer the important city that it had been when Horsley was little, but it was the sacred birthplace of Sabahl, and the bahtu still roamed the nearby hills at night. The former continued to be a source of great pride for the residents of Windle, while the latter meant that they were never really free of the fear that was so central to the earliest worship of Sabahl. It might be possible to treat religion casually in Pagston, but not in Windle. Alensa could never seem to understand this, and her absences from the Ceremonies made her the frequent subject of gossip around the village, and among the first to be blamed whenever Sabahl allowed any misfortune to befall its residents. Horsley couldn’t bear to think of Saira being talked about that way.
“Please go with me to the Ceremonies tomorrow, Sai. We can leave the minute they’re over and do whatever you like to remember your Mom. We can even have a picnic out in the hills if you want to.”
“But Daddy, that’s not the same thing at all,” Saira protested, as Horsley noticed Malti reemerging from her home with a teapot.
“It looks like Malti’s heading over now,” he said, catching Saira mid-breath. “Could you please get the door for her and bring up three cups? We can talk more about this before bed.”
Saira clearly didn’t want to step away from the conversation, but with an exasperated huff and a dramatic eye roll she wiped a tear from her cheek and semi-stomped down the stairs.
Horsley shut his eyes and took a deep breath. “Sabahl, you know she’s a good kid,” he said quietly. “Please help me figure this out!”
If Malti noticed any tension between Horsley and Saira when she arrived, she gave no indication of it. She set the teapot on the table and took a seat that offered a clear view of the hills. Saira set down a cup and a spoon for each of them and placed a small dish of sugar in the middle of the table before also sitting down. After some initial pleasantries they sat together for several minutes in silence, except for the sound of hot tea being sipped. Both Malti and Saira could usually be counted on to carry a conversation, requiring little more of Horsley than to listen and occasionally express his agreement, surprise, or whatever other reaction was called for. Right now, however, Saira was probably plotting how she would win their argument when it resumed later that evening, and Malti was obviously preoccupied with her son, so it was up to Horsley to get the conversation started.
“Malti,” he began, “I wanted to thank you again for all of your help with Saira’s party last week. The decorations were great, and the cake was the most delicious thing I’ve tasted in a long time!” He looked at Saira but wasn't able to catch her eye. “Don’t you agree, Saira?” he said.
Saira looked up at Horsley, startled. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I guess I wasn’t listening.”
“I was just telling Malti how much we appreciated the party she gave for you last week.”
Saira looked at Malti, nodding. “Oh yeah. It was terrific! Way better than Daddy would’ve done.” Her face showed no trace of the frustration that had been there just minutes before. Horsley didn’t know how she did it, but Saira had always had a talent for whatever was the opposite of sulking. She wouldn’t forget about their argument, but she would probably be perfectly pleasant until they got back to it, especially while Malti was with them.
Malti pulled her gaze away from the hills, seeming to slowly process what Horsley and Saira had said. “Oh, that was my pleasure,” she said at last, smiling a little. “It’s been a long time since my son wanted a real birthday party, and I’ve missed it.” At the thought of Geldon her gaze was drawn back toward the hills, but she continued distractedly. “Speaking of your birthday, Sweetie, are you excited about the Spring Ceremonies this year? It would be such an honor if you were chosen to serve in the Temple!”
Because Malti was looking toward the hills, she didn’t see the look of disgust on Saira’s face, but Horsley did, and he spoke quickly before she could answer.
“Well, actually, we’re both kind of hoping she isn’t chosen,” he said, cringing a little as he waited for Malti’s reaction.
Once a year, in the spring, all puggins are required to travel to Pagston for the Ceremonies. This used to take place in Windle, but it was moved to Pagston when Horsley was just nine years old. There are two times in the life of every puggin child when they must be presented to Sabahl during these Ceremonies. In the spring after their first birthday, a very small number of male puggins are chosen to be Sabahl’s future priests, and an even smaller number of piksins are chosen as Singers. These are lifelong commitments and are of course considered a very great honor for both the children and their parents. Then, after a puggin’s twelfth birthday, they are again presented to Sabahl, and about one child in twenty is chosen to serve for seven years in the Temple in Pagston. Males serve as caretakers, doing manual work around the Temple, while females work as nannies, taking care of the young future Priests and Singers until they are old enough for formal training. This is also considered a significant honor, but Saira had often said she couldn’t imagine spending seven years of her life wiping sacred noses and changing holy diapers, and Horsley couldn’t bear the thought of being apart from his daughter for so long.
Malti looked surprised, but her face showed none of the righteous horror that other residents of Windle often displayed at such mini-blasphemies. “Well, I guess I can understand that,” she said, turning to Saira. “Still, we’ll all be very proud if you are chosen.” Then she turned her attention eastward again. “It’s getting awfully dark now, isn’t it?”
Horsley had noticed several lamps shining through the windows of homes across the street and was starting to get a little nervous himself. “Yeah, I guess it’s a little later than I thought. Do you think he might have stopped at Pitt’s house for a drink or something before coming home?” Pitt was a good friend of Geldon’s, and his partner in the mines. About thirty years old, Pitt was divorced and lived by himself.
“I suppose so,” Malti said, “but he said he’d be home for dinner, which we’d have had by now.” She set down her tea and began to get up. “I think I’m going to go ask the night guard if he’s seen him come in. I’ll check in at Pitt’s on the way.”
Horsley stood up too. “Okay, but let me come with you. I feel like a stroll anyway.”
“Can I come too?” Saira asked. “I don’t want to just wait around here by myself.”
Horsley wanted to leave Saira at home. He didn’t want her to hear the worst-case scenarios that Malti would surely suggest if they didn’t find Geldon quickly, and he was afraid that Saira might bring up tomorrow’s Ceremonies - a topic he did not want to discuss with Malti or anyone else in earshot.
Before Horsley could figure out what to say though, Malti answered for him. “Of course you can come with, Dear. I always enjoy your company.”
Saira looked at Horsley who tried to give a look that said, “Okay, you can come, but don’t worry, I’m sure Geldon is fine. Please be careful what you say, though, and don’t bring up the Ceremonies. We can talk about that before bed.” The bemused look he got back from Saira told him that he hadn’t succeeded in getting much of this across.
“Yeah, sure,” he said at last, not feeling like he really had a choice. “Why not?”
It is a given that there is greater ease in exercising self-dependence than dependence in another, and such is the difference between the two dispensations; and is also why the prior is so often acquiesced to (in ignorance) and the latter so misunderstood in many of its operations. The prior Covenant arranged forgiveness according to the obedience and power of man, e.g. do this or that and receive forgiveness and blessings, as the obedience manifested faith in God’s method of forgiveness through His Covenant with man (Lev 4:20; Num 15:25, etc). The present Covenant is arranged so that forgiveness and blessings are received according to the Lord Jesus’ obedience, and man’s obedience still manifests faith and love in God, and not of his own power but through the power of His Spirit and His Eternal Covenant with His Son; and man is only the recipient of its eternal benefits.
Law, or Life?
Consistency if being true to a given standard. The constant taunt is that there is more consistency when a lower position is assumed than when a higher one is insisted on. It is said, for instance, and with some show of justice (i.e. truth—NC), that they who make the law their rule of life are more consistent than they who believe and assume that Christ is their Life in everything (of course the prior being no longer extant - Heb 7:11, 18, 19; 8:6-8; 10:9; Gal 3:23-25—NC). The force of the reproach is this, that they who do not profess such high ground are on the whole better men, and less erratic than they who do.
It must be remembered that the law address a man in the flesh; but the Lord Jesus is only known and maintained by His own Spirit (Rom 8:9; 1Pe 1:11). I do not disown and count dead the old man by the law; I cultivate and restrain him, and according as this is successful, I add to man’s self-respect and self-distinction. On the contrary, as the Lord Jesus is received and followed, man as he is in the flesh is counted dead; and the Spirit, who controls and uses his body and mind as belonging to Christ, is alone acknowledged and depended upon. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
Now there is a great difference between these two standards; and not only so, but the effect or demand which each has on me is vastly different. In the one case I am required to exalt man to the only true, proper elevation for a man; in the other I am required to be a dead man and accept Another and higher Life, and in the power of it to manifest Him who is the fountain and source of it to me. Surly the difference is immeasurable.
Hence, if I analyze the history of a disciple of each of these standards, I cannot fail to see that the one who is required to exalt himself to his highest moral point makes a better appearance, and walks apparently with more consistency (but to no avail, its method no longer existing—NC) than the one who is called to set aside the Adam-life at every point—which is the ground he has professed to take—to walk outside that which is of the flesh, in the Spirit of Christ, as a heavenly man.
No doubt that the latter surpasses the former when he is consistent with his standard, but this can only be in proportion as he is held by the power which transfers him from his old nature and into Christ. If his hold on, or faith in, the power relaxes he is (appears—NC) worse off than one who only seeks to conform himself to the moral standard of the law, because he has nothing to fall back upon, or to act on as to himself, his calling being to live outside himself in the risen Lord Jesus; whereas the other is called accordingly to live in himself.
It is plain that if I made myself my study with any true purpose, I cultivate myself to exhibit a certain commendable appearance. The law was to set up the first Adam-life in its best estate. But if through grace I seek to live outside the first Adam, and to live in the Lord Jesus who is my Life, I am infinitely worse off in appearance, when I fall back to myself, than one who had never abandoned the old man at all.
Another thing has to be taken into account. The one who cultivates self obtains commendation from others in a measure that the one who cultivates life in the Lord Jesus will never receive or elicit. The one cultivates what exalts man, and therefore what suits man; the other, cultivates that which ignores man and which rises above him. We must not forget, “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the site of God” (Luk 16:15 – “among men” intends the majority of mankind, as believers esteem God the highest—NC).
—J B Stoney (1814-97)
MJS excerpt for April 2:
“The Lord Jesus not only died for every sin in our life, but He lives for every second of our life. We cannot rest in Him until we realize that there is never an instant that He is not caring for us. It is as though each of His own were His only one.” –Miles J Stanford
“So many saints are disturbed, so many are restless, because they are not living in the knowledge that they are under the care of the Lord; and then there is no power to walk. Why have you so little power in walk or service? It is because you are not yet clear that the Lord is caring for you, that He is in all watchfulness over you, that He has let down the strong pinions of His protecting care till they sweep the ground around you, and, if you are wise, you will creep up close under His wings, into the very down.” -J.B.S.
Undoubtedly, we have all been there. Life's circumstances have completely consumed us and we feel like we just can't take anymore. Overwhelmed with our trials and the drudgery of day-to-day living, wondering when we will ever find relief, we despair of life itself. We never imagined that life would get so difficult or that our life's circumstances would be so unbearable, and we question how we can possibly go on.
If you have ever been in this place, then you know from personal experience that the statement "God never gives us more than we can handle" simply isn't true. This widely touted cliche is rooted in a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which states that "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability." This verse is speaking of temptations, not trials. In context of chapter 10, you plainly see that God is speaking of the Israelites "with [whom] most of them God was not pleased" (v. 5), and gives us the warning "that we might not desire evil as they did" (v. 6). Moreover, in speaking of the consequences for their sins, God says that "these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction...Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability" (vv. 11-13).
God has never said that He wouldn't give us more than we can handle. And He has never said that the trials we endure will be bearable. In fact, Scripture even attests to the fact that we can be burdened beyond our strength. Look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:8: "For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself." So if God does allow us to endure more than we can handle, then how are we to handle life's unbearable circumstances? This is the big question!
The answer is found in 2 Corinthians 1:9, the verse following Paul's confession that he and his fellow workers were burdened beyond their strength. Ponder closely what Paul says: "Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." Do you see it? Paul says that as a result of being unable to endure, to the point of feeling that he "had received the sentence of death," he no longer relied on himself but learned to rely on God.
This is exactly what we are called to do in our unbearable circumstances. No matter what we are going through, we can rely on God and trust in His strength and power to sustain us. Speaking of the thorn in his flesh, look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
When faced with the inevitable difficulties of life, Paul learned to rely on God's grace and strength and power to sustain and strengthen him. We can learn to do the same. With God as our all-sufficient source and supply of strength and power, we can endure all things. No matter what we are going through, the key to overcoming our burdensome circumstances is not trying to be strong in ourselves, but letting God's power and strength fill and empower us.
No matter what trials are overwhelming you, "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might" (Ep. 6:10). God is bigger and stronger and mightier than anything you are facing, and you can trust Him to comfort, strengthen, and sustain you each and every day!
In God's divine love,
This reading is taken from my blog Divine Companionship, a blog about human suffering and God's presence with us in the midst of suffering. If you would like to read more of my blog posts, go to https://divinecompanionship.com and provide your email in the "subscribe" box to receive regular post updates.
I was reading Romans 4 the other day and verse 18 jumped off the page at me. Ever have one of those moments? You know the Bible story or passage well - have read and studied it numerous times - and suddenly you see something you've never seen before. In telling of Abraham's faith regarding the promise of Isaac, Paul writes in Romans 4:18, "In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, 'So shall your offspring be.'" Did you see the magnificent statement "In hope he believed against hope"?
Another way to say this is that even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway. Look at the story in context of Romans 4:18-21:
18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when
he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. 20 No unbelief
made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
We can glean a lot of encouragement from this passage because all of us encounter seemingly hopeless situations. When Abraham considered his own body, which was as good as dead, and likewise Sarah's womb, his faith did not waver concerning God's promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. Notice that Abraham brought glory to God while he was waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. In spite of what seemed like a hopeless situation, Abraham was "fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised," and never wavered in believing God's promise. In fact, while he waited his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. In hoping and waiting and believing, Abraham gave glory to God.
No matter what trials or suffering we encounter in life, no matter how hopeless our situation may appear, God's promises are our confident hope. God is faithful. It is who He is. Whether it's a Bible verse that God gives us as a promise of hope for our situation, or a Scripture promise pertaining to our spiritual welfare, God will bring it to fulfillment. No promise of His has ever failed and cannot fail because of His honor and character. "God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?" (Num. 23:19). Whether God's promises are related to time or eternity, to our physical life or spiritual well-being, God will bring them to completion. Because of all God is in Himself, He cannot go back on His Word or promises.
No matter what you are going through, my friend, keep hoping and keep believing. Though the waiting is difficult, and often times very painful, don't give up! Lift up your heart to God, cry out to Him, and remain fully convinced that He is able to do what He has promised. Regardless of what is happening around you and what your circumstances tell you, hope against hope in our promise-keeping God!
In God's divine love,
This reading is taken from my blog Divine Companionship, a blog about human suffering and God's presence with us in the midst of suffering. If you would like to read more of my blog posts, go to https://divinecompanionship.com and provide your email in the "subscribe" box to receive regular post updates.