Despair into Joy

Psalm 27:13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.”

I quick survey of the news can be disheartening. Covid variants seem to make the headlines daily, asteroids that make near misses, crimes in society are increasing, natural disasters happening with climate shift occurring throughout the globe and law and order seems to be on the decline. No matter how dim the outlook seems for our world, the prospects for hope never change.

A brief survey in history reveals the reality of trouble in every generation. Imagine living during the time of Noah:

Genesis 6:5-6 “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”

The reality of widespread evil upon the earth didn’t happen overnight,there was a steady decline that likely progressed over hundreds of years. Hopelessness would have been a resonating theme for those who trusted in God and as they watched their society continually progress into evil I’m sure the prospect of their future looked bleak. The decline in Noah’s day was such that when God looked upon the face of the earth the Lord was sorrowful for what had happened to His creation.

Not many years after the flood, families bore societies that picked up where they left off, in idolatry and every form of evil. Shem, Ham, and Japheth migrated to different regions and people groups began to grow and form into societies, which in turn formed cities and countries. The wickedness of mankind’s heart hadn’t changed, only the people had changed and the isolation of these people groups formed the construct for many of the ethnicities and cultures we see today. The Lord had to break up the unifying spirit of rebellion in man in order for society to become what it is today.

Genesis 11:1-4 “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

Do you hear it in the response of these people? “let us make a name for ourselves”. This independent spirit that forsakes God, focuses on mankind and has been an ever present evil from the beginning.

Leave people to themselves long enough and sin and rebellion take over.

When we look at society today, what do we expect? Impending calamity has been evident throughout history, from floods to pestilence, from war to natural disasters, there has been danger and trouble from the beginning.

Why should we think any less about our generation?

A Sustaining Force

Psalm 31:19 “How great is Your goodness which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have bestowed before the sons of men on those who take refuge in You!”

No matter what time, era, or generation you live in, the prospect of hopelessness is measured against a timeless hope. In a world throughout history that seemingly attempts to implode upon itself, there has always been a people that have risen above it.

What is it that distinguishes a people who look in the face of disaster with a calm that is projected through their countenance and doesn’t succumb to their fears? It is those who rise above fear, look it square in the face and pronounce that “I have nothing to fear, it has no grip on me!”.

The sustaining force that takes fear and reduces it to ashes is none other than the Lord, strong and mighty to save. For those who place their hope in Him, there remains a quiet confidence that He is in control.

How do they know He is in control?

He has repeatedly proven it in small ways over and over again, until there is no more room for doubt. This is the benefit of a sustaining walk with Christ, it grows stronger and stronger the longer you go, by the ways you continue to trust, and the deeper your faith is established in Him.

Listen to the testimonies of those who have gone before us.

The Faithful

“Our faith is not meant to get us out of a hard place or change our painful condition. Rather, it is meant to reveal God’s faithfulness to us in the midst of our dire situation.”

David Wilkerson

“The glory of God’s faithfulness is that no sin of ours has ever made Him unfaithful.”

Charles Spurgeon

“Trials should not surprise us, or cause us to doubt God’s faithfulness. Rather, we should actually be glad for them. God sends trials to strengthen our trust in him so that our faith will not fail. Our trials keep us trusting; they burn away our self confidence and drive us to our Savior.”

Edmund Clowney

“In God’s faithfulness lies eternal security.”

Corrie Ten Boom

I could list myriads of people, throughout the ages that have experienced the abiding peace that comes with knowing and walking with God. Each person has a story, each era reveals those who came through it in strength and honor, there wasn’t one of them that placed their hope in the Savior’s hands that were left disappointed.

Each of the men and women of faith who have since passed on are now residing in glory, awaiting the final call of God to His people. We who are alive today, who have known and experienced the strength that comes with walking in Christ, have work left to do. God’s people are called to administer the gospel, to live faithfully, and unwavering in their conviction until the day the Lord also calls them home.

Were these people who lived valiantly in the faith born with these traits?

Of course not. Each of them wrestled with fear, each of them had to learn how to trust, and they all had to overcome doubt and loss in their lives as a result of the position they held.

“All God’s giants have been weak men and women who have gotten hold of God’s faithfulness.”

Hudson Taylor

Psalm 117 “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!
For His merciful kindness is great toward us,
And the truth of the Lord endures forever.”

Praise the Lord!

An enduring tribute towards God is His consistent, abiding, faithfulness.

Our Testimony

Each of our lives gives forth a testimony.

One of my favorite things to ask someone new is if they would be willing to share with me their story. When people do so, it gives me insight into the events that have occurred in their lives that has led them to where they are now. The more often I ask these questions, the more often I see similarities in people regardless of where they grew up or what culture they were influenced by.

Our testimonies are a revelation of the decisions we have made in life and the consequences to those decisions.

Some for shame:

Hosea 5:5 “Israel’s arrogance testifies against them; Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; even Judah stumbles with them.”

Some for honor:

Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Those who glory in their shame will inherit the bitter fruit of condemnation that leads to everlasting judgement. To those who recognize their weaknesses and have made the Lord their strength, their glory is in the Savior….the One in whom they trust.

“Every demonstration of God’s faithfulness to us is an opportunity for us to testify of Him to others.”

Max Anders

The testimony of God’s people proclaims His goodness and brings Him the glory He alone deserves. The testimony of the faithless only attempts to bring glory upon themselves.

One day, we will see the results of our lives and be rewarded accordingly. The Judge of the Earth will determine whether our faith was genuine or it was contrived. Faithful and true is the moniker of the Redeemer, He alone holds our peace in His hands.

So if your going to suffer, let the suffering be done with an eye toward the finish line. Don’t let sin rule in your life and suffer from the consequences of that sin, the Lord will sustain you if you trust Him through the trial, He always has and always will.

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