Our lives are unbelievably blessed. Every day we awake to a new day with countless blessings that God bountifully gives us: air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, homes to live in, and clothes to wear. These things have become so necessary in our lives that we often forget how valuable and wonderful it is to have these luxuries. We have jobs which enable us to pay our bills, save for retirement and the occasional rainy day, and also pay our taxes. Every day we have time to spend with our family getting to enjoy their presence and impact in our lives. Our lives should never be described any other way than blessed.
Our lives can be unbelievably hard. Obstacles may arise in our lives that will try our patience with others and if not regulated can test our trust in God. When our family member is diagnosed with terminal cancer or possibly is lost unexpectedly. When we lose our jobs unexpectedly and the unknown begins to creep into the back of our minds. Our lives can be turned upside down during a night of storms, or when things just simply do not go as planned. Life is unfair and unexplainable. Life is hard!
How can both of these paragraphs be true at the same time? How can a Christian’s life be described as both hard and blessed? Why do bad things happen to good people? So many brothers/sisters in Christ struggle to maintain faithfulness to God because of the harshness of reality that surrounds us. We live in a fallen creation, where pain and suffering is never too far away from anyone of us. What can we do to overcome these moments of desperation? Who can we turn to in the midst of the battle?
The Israelites had made their way out of Egyptian bondage, but they were now trapped at the Red Sea. They cried out in desperation – “…For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:10-12). We are quick to judge Israel’s unbelief, but can we be guilty of a similar unbelief in the midst of our trials? Israel was surrounded and the way of escape seemed impossible. Moses heard Israel’s cry, but he was not dismayed by their current situation. Moses said – “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever” (Exodus 12:13). What was Moses’ answer to Israel’s greatest fear – “Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord!”
Nebuchadnezzar was furious with the three companions of Daniel: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (Daniel 3:13-18). The decree had been delivered that everyone was to worship the golden image, but these three stood valiantly against the king’s edict. Nebuchadnezzar ordered for the fiery furnace to be heated seven times its normal heat, and gave the three a final opportunity to worship the image. Nebuchadnezzar asked them – “…what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” The pressure to bend and submit to the worship of the image must have been immense, but the three responded – “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king”. These three young men faced certain death, but they were not going to allow the trials of life to dictate their faithfulness to their God.
A cross is the symbol of the most inhumane and painful manner of corporal punishment ever devised by man. The cross also served as Jesus’ ultimate trial at the close of His ministry. Jesus did not go blindly to Jerusalem, but He went with the full knowledge of what awaited Him. The apostle John recorded Jesus who said – “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (12:27). In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was “very distressed and troubled” and prayed three times – “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; you not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:32-36). We cannot even begin to fathom the anguish endured by Jesus on the evening of His betrayal and eventual death. The cross confronted Jesus every step of His life, but this reality never stopped Him from fulfilling His Father’s will. On the cross, Jesus suffered, bled, and died, but this was not His final act.
The Red Sea was met with dismay and fear, but God parted the waters and brought Israel safely through on dry land. The fiery furnace was faced with courage, and God walked with the three in the midst of the flame. The cross was carried in pain and anguish, but on the third day death was vanquished by our Savior Jesus Christ. The trials of our lives may seem insurmountable, but with God the impossible has been made possible. We may suffer and endure hard times in this life, but with God every obstacle, every trial, every bad day, week, or month has been made possible. We must never stop pressing on and seeking the those things which are above. Life is hard, but for those who trust in God – Life is a blessing! May God draw us closer and keep us from the darkness that surrounds us.