Wednesday, April 13, 2016

We Are Not Alone In Our Trials

Abraham and Sarah were great-grandparent age when they had Isaac. A hope and a promise made to them in God's perfected timing. Don't you just love when His will is uncovered for us? When we finally get to see His promises come to fruition is as much a relief as a joy. But we don't always want to wait with patience. Too often, just like Sarah, we want to take things in our own hands and manipulate circumstances to get what we want when we want it. 

God had already promised Sarah and Abraham a son, but Sarah didn't want to wait. It had already been so very long. Her hope was diminishing. If we could only wait on God. It's about that time when all hope seems lost that God once again reveals Himself to us in miraculous ways. 

As soon as Isaac is born Sarah no longer wants Hagar there. She wants Hagar and Ishmael to leave. She seems heartless and uncaring. She just wants them gone. She now has what she wanted all along. At first she thought she could manipulate life and use Hagar to bring her a son, but then it happens and Sarah isn't as happy as she thought. She's jealous and envies the relationship Hagar has with Ishmael. She knows how much Abraham loves his son, but she still tells Abraham to make them go. 

Can you imagine the heartache of Abraham? But an angel of the Lord comes to Abraham and tells him to listen to Sarah and do as she asks. What? So many questions of why scream in my heart. I want to stand up for Hagar. I want God to put Sarah in her place. Oh, but what my eyes have not seen, God opens them to more today. He allowed Hagar to go. It's in the desert that she finds that He is her everything. He is going to provide for her and Ishmael in ways that no other person could provide. Where Sarah made her feel unwanted and unloved, God fills her heart. It is with Him she finds a love in the middle of the desert that she didn't find in the riches of Sarah's home. {Genesis 21:1-21}

A journey of trial for Hagar and for Abraham. Abraham's trials are not finished. Friends, it's often found that the closer we are to God the more trials our lives will contain. It is through those trials we find the presence of God. We call upon Him and He answers. Those trials bring us closer to God and closer to becoming the people He has created us to be. God will only ask us to do what He will enable us to do. 

Abraham will now be asked to give up and sacrifice his only son. This brings us to the crucifixion of our Savior. So many parallels here for us to see. {Genesis 22:1-19 and Galatians 4} I cannot imagine the burden upon Abraham's heart. The tears and prayers that must have poured out from him. How could he sacrifice his own son? Abraham had seen God provide. He has witnessed God move in his life and I truly believe that Abraham was not only walking in faith, but in hope, in belief in knowing that He would provide once again. It was through obedience that Abraham's faith has grown. It's through obedience that he has witnessed God moving on his behalf. He would not only show Himself, but He would provide a ram in the thicket, just as He provided for us so long ago when He gave His only begotten Son, with thorns upon his head. Praise Jesus!! 

What would our lives be like without trial? Oh, I'm just like you. I would rather trial never touch my life, but without it would we truly see God move? Would we appreciate the good in life? Satan tempts people to bring out the worst in them. God tests us to only bring out the best in us. Just as going through the fire refines and beautifies, God too wants His children to come to know Him more and more. We are to walk an intimate relationship with Him. One of obedience. From that faith blossoms and love grows. How we are forever awed by our God and all He does for us. His mercies are new every day. His grace builds a bridge and closes in the gap. 

Can we profit from God's trials? You betcha we can. God never sends us on a journey without first going there Himself and He forever provides us with all we need no matter how long the road ahead of us. He will never leave or forsake His children. {Deut. 31:6}

"My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4

Let us remember that the trials that God allows to strengthen the believer are different from the consequences of sin in a believer's life. Ever look at one's circumstances and wonder, "Boy, what did they do for that to happen to them?" May we be very cautious in judging the circumstances of others. God is always working to bring His children closer to Him and to perfect their journey to completeness. 

Trials are a part of what God is doing to prepare His people. Have you ever gone through something to only walk a different journey facing a totally different trail later, but now you have learned something to help you in this journey that you would have in no way learned if God had not allowed you to travel the trials that tested your faith? We have an amazing God who knows our journey. He knows where we came from and where we are going. There isn't anything He doesn't know about His children. We should take comfort in that. Trusting Him all the more. 

Those who remain faithful will receive the crown of life. How can we not be excited about that? We can endure because our Savior endured. We can overcome because He first overcame. We gain our strength and wisdom from Him. Seeking Him and walking in a relationship with Him brings us to only appreciate life all the more. 

"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12

"In this you greatly rejoice, through now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, through it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Through now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith-the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:6-9

We often ask, "Why did this happen to me?" How much more should we ask, "Why not me?" Is it okay if it happens to another person? Does that make it easier for us? It's often harder to watch others go through such difficult trial. I am learning that no trial comes that God has not in some way prepared me for. I am learning to ask, "Okay, God, where to now? What is it that you wish for me to learn here? What am I to do?" Now, I said, learning. That doesn't mean those words come easily for me. I cannot imagine going though trial and not having Jesus walk the journey with me. 

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:1-5

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:28-31

I do not know the trial you are facing today, but our Lord knows. Friend, turn to Him today in the midst of your heartache. Seek Him and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Just as Abraham walked in faith through his trials we too can walk this journey ahead of us without fear, but with a growing faith in the One who is leading the way. 

"But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand." Isaiah 64:8

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