It’s a fact, a sad fact, that all of us have times of scarcity and famine. But the flip side of these times speak of R-E-S-T-O-R-A-T-I-O-N! God says we can expect restoration, and that’s exciting. There’s one word that God has spoken over and over to me, and that is focus. Oh yes my friend, God brings both the bad and good. Going through the hard places in our lives accomplishes something only a hard place can accomplish. The hard places… they can be like a jackhammer breaking apart the rocks of resistance, and stripping away the junk we’re carrying. It may even remove the things and people we rely on for comfort. It can seem very cruel. God loves us too much to allow us to stay like we are.
A favorite mentor of mine is Joni Eareckson-Tada. She’s been a quadriplegic living out of a wheelchair for forty five years! Her writings helped cement my relationship with God. One thing she says, and I’ll never forget is… “Suffering is like a sheep-dog snapping at my heels, driving me down the road to Calvary, where otherwise I might not be inclined to go.” Oh Joni, how true. Nobody wants to walk the road to Calvary. It’s simply unnatural. Calvary speaks of death… we die to pride, arrogance, bad attitudes, impatience, etc. But for me this is for sure… Suffering makes me cling tighter to the cross because I know that I have no other place to go. I hope that’s what suffering does for you.
So let’s get back to focus. I need to write about this for myself as well as you… Peter was able to walk on the water with Jesus, but quickly started to sink when he focused on the wind and waves. What would have happened if the Israelites stopped dead in the middle of the Red Sea and fixed their eyes on the walls of water? I think you get the point of what I’m trying to say.
“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5: 19-20
Think about this. We are commanded to sing and to give thanks to God in everything. I once read that Paul was probably always crying (because of his suffering), but always rejoicing and singing! Something that you may find interesting is that the Bible talks about Jesus singing only once. It was in the Upper Room on the night He was betrayed. “After they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26: 30).” Just before He went to Gethsemane… really think about that. Of all places and times, it was recorded right before Jesus’ darkest time. He chose this time. This most certainly shows us how to follow our Lord in song when our hearts are heavy and when we face disappointment. We are to take up our cross and sing. Singing changes perspective. Worship and praise is a great exchange; our junk for God’s greatness!
There is a time when those hard places have accomplished their purpose and God begins to restore. I know that God wants each of us to know there is an appointed time when He will demonstrate His loving, gracious hand in our lives. Please know and hold onto this… He tenderly guides His children through the hard, dark places. Know that He is the restorer of that which the locusts have eaten. I love these verses, and I thank God for them…
“If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139: 11-12