Thursday, October 10, 2019

In Troubles and Hard Times

It's no surprise that when Israel comes under attack from a rampaging Babylon, her first inclination is to run. Fight or flight, and she doesn't think she has the fight in her. Siege ramps are going in, food supplies are being cut off, famine and defeat are right on the horizon, so she starts weighing her options. And in terms of options, "anywhere but here" is looking pretty good right now. There's even talk of fleeing back to Egypt. (Oh, silly Israel. Can't ever seem to shake that Egypt complex you have, can you?) 

It's basic human instinct, and we're very familiar with it. The truth is, most of us run, too. When times get hard, when things are tough, when we don't want to deal with whatever it is that life has thrown at us, our first inclination is to run away. Go somewhere where the problems aren't. Take shelter under someone, or something, stronger than us. It's how we get most of our addictions...and miss so many of our opportunities. 

Yet, we know that God doesn't work like that. Neither does life. And He tells us as much, straight up, just as He told the people of Israel when they started to pack for their trip. 

God says, if you stay faithfully in the war and persevere faithfully through the famine, God Himself will protect and bless you. But if you try to run and shield yourself, you will die (Jeremiah 42). 

In other words, if God has put a trial or a trouble in front of you, the best thing to do is to faithfully stand in it. For then, you will see His power and love played out in your life. It doesn't get much plainer than that. 

Man, it's hard, though. Let's not pretend that it's not hard. It's a lot easier to just run away to a place where those trials and troubles aren't, to a world where they aren't in your face all the time. It's why, after a tough diagnosis, we throw ourselves into our work. Or after we get fired from a job, we throw ourselves into our family. Or after our family breaks up, we drown our sorrows in alcohol. "Anywhere but here" is looking pretty good right now. 

But no good ever comes from running from a hardship. What's the saying? No matter where you go, there you are. Your diagnosis, your unemployment, your divorce, your whatever...these things follow you. You can't just go to Egypt and get away from them. Try as you might, it's just not possible. 

Equally true, however, is what God says, and what He's said all along. That if you'll stand faithfully and persevere, you will see His protection and blessing poured out all over your life. 

I don't know anyone who has regretted fighting a cancer, who has regretted getting a new job, who has regretted working on a broken marriage. I don't know anyone who has fought through some of the hardest darknesses this world has to offer and said, "You know what? It wasn't worth it." Not one. 

I don't know anyone even who has ended up in Babylon anyway, taken by force to a place where they didn't want to be, forced to fight and to serve in ways they never imagined, who, in the end, said, "You know what? Egypt would have been better." Not one. 

And more than that, I don't know anyone who has fought through these troubles and hard times and come out on the other side to say, "I knew it all along; God is not good." Or real. Or loving. Or whatever. Again, not one. 

I've spent a lifetime in hard and broken places, met a lot of persons along the path, and without exception, those who have faithfully endured have come to know exactly what God promised they would - His goodness. Every. single. time. 

So what are you facing right now? What trouble has come against you? Where are the siege ramps in your life being built? What is it that's got you thinking, "anywhere but here?" Because you have it from the Word of God is where it's at. Because it's where He's at. 

Stand tough, even though it's hard, and you'll see Him. Protection and blessing and love poured out on you. 

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