Monday, March 29, 2010

Bear it with Belief

“Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him” Psalm 105:19

Through many years of experience I have come to realize it is not only fruitless, but also detrimental to my spiritual growth, to cry out in self-pity for the removal of God’s chastening when confronted with trials. Usually such prayers are random bursts of confusion over God’s character or they are overt reaction to pain (like unto the physical jerk and verbal frustration when stubbing a toe)! Prayer within this context only reveals that I am not being “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” and therefore not “walking worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing” (Colossians 1:9-10).

My response to trials should be carefully evaluated. “A fool uttereth all his mind; but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards” (Proverbs 29:11) is a proverb we should apply to our prayer life. I am so grateful for the inspired Word that promises to give us doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). When we are faced with an overwhelming circumstance we must take the time to allow the Scriptures (not our own understanding) to instruct us on how to think and how to pray regarding our trouble. This will mean an immediate dying to self (and its need for pity, anxious fretting, depression, complaint) and it will mean taking the time to sit down with Christ and see what He would have us do!

What does God’s Word say about suffering in the life of a believer?

What does God’s Word say about this specific need?

Who in Scripture also faced this problem? What was their response? What was the result to their response?

Did David find reason to praise God in the midst of this same sorrow?

God has taught me more about His sovereignty (and the reason I can trust His sovereignty) by asking me to carry hard things! I don’t desire hard things, but I do desire to know my Savior…my godly response to hard things conforms me into His likeness! Being conscious of this reality gives me motivation to seek His will over my own and then shut my mouth before opening it up again to Him in prayer!

Joseph’s life is an excellent example of this principle. He was horribly mocked by his brethren, thrown into a pit, ignored, sold into slavery, and falsely accused…he experienced every human emotion and feeling that would accompany such affliction: “whose feet they HURT with fetters: he was laid in iron (an instrument, a bond—fig. harshness, strength, oppression).” Joseph underwent a lot of physical pain. But his life is characterized by submission to His God—a God he obviously believed to be in complete control of every abuse he received. His afflictions were ordained by the Lord—each rejection a part of His plan!

That is easy to believe for Joseph…but what about for yourself?

Do you ever think on that truth when you are faced with difficulty? Have you ever considered that your own pain may be the catalyst God will use to bring about His will in a situation still unknown to you? Or that the suffering you now know (that secret hidden hurt) is placed upon you so that God’s glory might be revealed in not only your life but also the lives of future generations?

Psalm 105 declares that it was “the word of the Lord” that tried Joseph (not his brothers and not Potiphar or Potiphar's wife) and that nothing would change regarding that trial until God’s appointed time for that change to occur. When we recognize this statement as truth, our response to trouble (either big or small) will begin to be less self-centered and more God-centered! We will not run to the Lord with anxious thoughts in a spirit of fear but rather run to Him in order to rest and seek refuge in His promises.

When trials arise, God is not only allowing the affliction…He is in full control of how long we will be under its mighty weight. He is working out His plan and purpose. His purpose is always our sanctification, but His plan may include unforeseen, future events (with Joseph it included the saving of a nation—a nation through which the Messiah would be born Psalm 105:8-45).

Dear reader, trust God to know what is good and right. “Direct [your] prayer” unto the Lord and “look up”—anticipate results (Psalm 5:3). But wait on God without a pushy, arrogant spirit—give Him time to what He will do.

We are told in Psalm 105 that God’s word alone brings relief to our trials—therefore, desire God’s will above your own. The prophet Jeremiah states “it is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:26). Good? Yes…very good! Nothing that God allows is in vain!

Joseph and Jeremiah both knew the pressure of burdens too heavy to hold on their own. Their lives show a determined obedience to do that which their God required!

Endurance—that is what God wills.

But how do we endure righteously?

When brought into a “dark place,” Jeremiah says we must quiet ourselves…sit alone and keep silent…put our mouth in the dust...and learn to give our cheek to those who smite us “for [our Creator] doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men” (Lamentations 3:26-33). We can eagerly submit to the One who pities our flesh, to the One Who does not inflict pain for any reason but for our greater good—Who “has compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.” He controls the calendar and the clock and every desire of man! Pain will naturally bring panic! And panic my friend, naturally puts our mouth into motion! Without the command to BE QUIET, I'm afraid we would never hear what our Savior has to say! Humbling ourselves before Him—dwelling within His presence—that is how we righteously endure!

Joseph’s full and free forgiveness to those who wronged him—“ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good”—declares that he also chose to believe and act upon the exact truth Jeremiah cited.

“This I call to mind, therefore have I hope. It is the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:21-23).

Joseph and Jeremiah both experienced the manifestation of such a Redeemer. They were subjected to cruelty, false accusations, and imprisonment, but they never lost their confidence in their God. They believed in His sovereignty and acted upon that belief! They called out to the Lord in their grief and He heard their cries. He drew near to them in the midst of their pain. They believed God was watching over their every move and that He was aware of their reproach! They believed that He would righteously judge their cause!

When God lays any trouble upon you, silent yourself before Him! Take time to search His word! Be determined to learn of Him—don't assume you know His will or His character without careful study of the Scriptures! He will teach you how to think—His thoughts are opposite your natural inclinations. And He will show you what to pray. Scripture is the perfect petition to take before His throne. He will give you all you need.

To panic, to despair, to seek for sorrow’s early release is to waste precious time in getting to know your Savior better and it will quench the Spirit’s ability to show you great and mighty things—things which you know not!

Rest, look up, trust in God’s perfect timing (and promised escape) instead—He knows what He is planning to do! Your trouble is a part of that plan! Rejoice in the Savior Who has entrusted to you this specific pain! Bear it well—bear it silently—bear it with belief!

“Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him” Psalm 105:19