Life doesn't always give you a whole lot to smile or laugh about, does it? It would be great if we felt like the woman in the picture every day, right? But we don't. There are seasons of tears or heartbreak. There are days where sadness and discouragement come to choke out your faith. But if you can just remember that this will pass and God is setting you up for greater, you can laugh and smile through it.
Stay focused and stay faithful. A reward is coming. Just hold on.
I woke up this morning feeling better than I have in a full week’s time. I was coughing some this morning, but I don’t feel achy and my throat is not sore anymore. Thank God! As I mentioned in Thursday’s blog, after returning home from ministering at a prayer conference in North Carolina last weekend, the flu bug that has accosted so many family members, friends, and colleagues, attacked my body. I was not ready.
It was pretty brutal, but I made it through the worst of it. I am up and about today, doing my best to get back on track. Thanks for all the prayers and check-ins.
Avoidance of sickness and struggles of every kind would be ideal. We all enjoy ease, comfort and opposition-free living. But that isn’t a realistic picture. Each of us has to deal with the stuff of life in all its unpleasantness, no matter how closely we walk with God, or how faithfully we serve Him.
Sometimes, setbacks are minor. At other times, they are major. At all times, they are inconvenient. And yet, we must not let the unavoidable ups and downs of human existence intimidate or discourage us. After all, God is with us.
Take Hezekiah for instance. When he became Judah’s king in the Bible, he was 25 years old and was committed to righteous living. According to 1 Chronicles 29, in the first year of his reign, he reinstated worship, got rid of unclean things, and led the nation in righteous reform. But these God-honoring acts did not exempt Hezekiah from trouble.
It’s worth noting that trouble is not always an indicator of wrongdoing just as absence of it is not always a signifier of right living. Whoever you are and wherever you’re from, you will go through something as long as you are breathing. Notwithstanding, there is a key difference: when you walk with God, you benefit from the kind of divine strength, protection, and supernatural favor that is not available to those who live apart from God. God’s favor is tied to His purpose.
So then, there are rewards for faithfulness to the Lord. You won’t be able to escape trouble, but God will see to it that the trouble turns into triumph, and that all things will always, without fail, work out for your good.
That’s a pretty amazing benefit of faithfulness, I’d say. Wouldn’t you?
In Hezekiah’s case, the Assyrians, a formidable army, came after him and the Israelites (2 Chronicles 32), but God delivered the enemy into Hezekiah’s hands. Sickness also came knocking at this righteous king’s door. It got so bad, Hezekiah was at the point of death. But we see in Isaiah 38 that God healed him in response to his anguished prayers.
Clearly, Hezekiah was attacked just as you and I are, but God honored Hezekiah’s faithfulness by shifting his circumstances. The Lord will honor your faithfulness and shift your circumstances, too.
Friend, let me reiterate this, because I feel led to stress this point you today: loving God and devoting yourself to serving Him does not preclude you from trouble. The enemy will attack you anyway. Disturbing things will happen. Disappointment, pain and hardship will find you. But don’t let that worry you.
I have mentioned to you before that Hezekiah’s name means "Yah is my strength" or "Jehovah is my strength." And the same God that strengthened Hezekiah is strengthening you right now because you are connected to Him (John 15). His favor is yours. His provision belongs to you. His blessings are stored up for you. His good plan for your life is in full motion. Lift up your head. Be courageous. Be encouraged. God will honor your faithfulness.
Right now, things may look bad. If so, I know where you are. Situations may appear hopeless, but they are not. Jehovah, your strength, stands ready, willing and able to empower you and lift you up out of this low place.
To remind you that you’ve got blessings on the way directly tied to your loyalty to God, I’m stirring the first part of 1 Samuel 26:23 NIV into your cup of inspiration, which says, “The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness.”
As you drink down the contents of your cup, know that your faithfulness and steadfastness is not in vain. Good things are on the way for you. This storm won’t last. It’s passing over and a new day is dawning. A new season is on the horizon.
Expect better and greater things. They’re coming.
Now let’s pray.
God, I know that my troubles won’t last always. And yet, enduring hardship is difficult. So I thank You for reminding me that You see me and You will reward me for my diligence, perseverance and faithfulness. Please give me strength to press on and wait, while remaining full of expectancy. I know my breakthrough is coming and I praise You for it in advance! In Jesus’ name, Amen.