Thursday, September 07, 2006

I Can't Take It Anymore!!!

Did you ever feel like you just can’t take it anymore? Sometimes it seems like the world is crashing in all around us. Everything seems to crumble in our hands: finances, family, relationships, health, and our future...and we wonder what’s next!
These are turning points in our lives. You are not alone! If you are at the end of your rope today, hang on, for there is Hope...and God has a plan!
Can you imagine the roller-coaster of emotions the families of the Virginia mine disaster experienced? First they learned of the disaster, that their husbands and fathers were trapped in the mine. Then after hours of despair, suddenly someone tossed a rope of hope saying that all but one had survived! The church bells rang! Families praised God...and then the bottom dropped out as they learned of the mistake… Only one had survived and all the rest were dead. Swings of emotions can be devastating. Pregnant moms who are rejoicing in the new life within them often experience this same swing when they suddenly learn of the death of the pre-born child. Sometimes it is the breadwinner of the family, who has spent a lifetime working hard at a job he thought was secure, only to learn that his job has been shipped overseas...the pension gone, with retirement just around the corner. Sometimes it is the stay at home mom, who faces dealing with toddlers, diapers, toys, sickness, meals, laundry, financial stress, only to learn her husband has been unfaithful. Or perhaps it is the pastor, overloaded with the pressures of ministry, spiritually drained and burned out, straining at being spiritually fresh while continually giving and giving to others.
It is not difficult in today’s world to find yourself stressed and wanting a way to escape the pressures that surround on every side. Whether you live in the city or in the country, pressures exist. Families have troubles, people get sick, jobs and finances stress believers and unbelievers to the maximum. Yet through the years, God has provided a steady source of hope and help to those who really want to “Get away from it all.” And the advice we are given goes contrary to what we would normally tend to do. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2,3 Joy? Does it really mean JOY? How can anyone be happy when they face trials and testing? God uses the ordinary experiences of life to make us more like Himself. We tend to look at the moment...right now. God looks at the whole picture… past, present and future. He sees what we are, and what He wants us to become. Then He allows things into our lives to bring us to the end of trusting in ourselves. We are forced by the circumstances to either trust God, or not trust Him—and end up doing it all by ourselves. We soon learn that our way never works out. So we by trial and error, learn to trust God. When we do, we learn to look at the trouble that comes two ways. We ask ourselves: “What Does God Want Me to Learn From This?” Is this difficulty God’s opportunity?
What Does God Want Me to Learn?
Some of are slow learners. Others learn by doing. Some learn by watching, and still others learn by listening. There are many ways to learn. Life is one long lesson in learning. Job, the Old Testament patriarch learned that God allowed difficulties into his life to show him and his friends, that God is God, regardless of the circumstance. He is a God who knows us inside and out, our deepest thoughts, and our unspoken longings. He also knows our weaknesses. He knows where we need to be made strong. Sometimes He uses us to teach others valuable lessons. He wants us to be like Job in many ways who said…”Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;” Job13:13
Job persevered! “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4 That is Job’s story… mature, complete and without lack. God blessed him twice as much after the test. Job was not happy while he went though it all, but he learned that God had a bigger picture than Job did. He saw the end from the beginning. By faith, God is asking us to be happy, joyful, knowing that as we trust God, He will bring good from whatever difficulty we go through. Real joy is like a river of life that flows from the throne of God, not polluted with bitterness or resentment or anger, but trusting that God is working even in impossible circumstances for our eternal good.
God’s Opportunity?
Our distress is God’s opportunity. I used to wonder why God allowed my mother to die when I was just 7 years old. But then as life progressed, I saw the hand of God in my life whenever I trusted Him and needed Him. He caused me to be totally dependent on God instead of on my parents. He kept me focused on eternal values. He brought people into my life to influence me that never would have been there otherwise. Sometimes we look at the problems we are facing and that is all we see. God looks at the whole picture. He has an eternal time clock. One day, as we stand before God, we will be amazed at how God had it all under control. We just could not see it. It’s like we are looking at the backside of a needle point picture. We see crisscrossed threads of all colors, dangling strings, and a mess. But God sees the front side….a beautiful picture He is creating of our lives, one stitch at a time. He creates it with careful purpose, knowing that each stitch is painful, but fruitful. Trusting God with the end result is His ultimate goal. There is a reward waiting those who are willing to persevere to the end. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 When Jesus gave the beatitudes to the disciples and followers, I am sure some must have turned away. He told them you are to be happy (blessed) if you are humble, sad, meek, hungry, merciful, holy and persecuted. It was a new way of thinking. We think happiness comes from having more things, more leisure time, more power or more laughter. But, the Bible teaches us differently. Psalm 126:5-6 tells us "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." It is part of the law of sowing and reaping. God designed it for man. Tears are sometimes necessary. They brings us from a place of frivolous carelessness down to a place of serious reality. Sometimes we do not face the real issues in life until we are sad. Then we can let God deal with the problem and watch Him work a miracle! It brings us to the place where we draw closer to Him than ever before. Then He turns things around for our good. James 4:8-10 says, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." It is a process. It does not happen overnight. It begins when we choose to come closer to God—then He responds to our choice—drawing closer to us. The closer we get to Him, the more we realize how unholy we are, needing repentance. When God completes the work in our hearts and lives, joy comes. It is not a superficial joy, but one that lasts, for it is a work done deeply in our hearts. That is where we can be happy even though we are going through poverty, pain, persecution, humility or any other test. I sometimes wonder what it will be like to view life on earth from Heaven’s perspective. I am certain we will rejoice over choices made with eternity in view. But perhaps we will have some regrets as we see what we could have had when we made carnal choices with our momentary pain in view. The Message Bible puts it this way “So, my very dear friends, don't get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.” James 1:16-18 So keep your focus! Don’t give up! Look up! He’s there…! He cares! Perhaps you are feeling blessed right now with all your needs met. Then thank Him! Instead, pray for others who are going through tests and trials of their own. But, if you are in the middle of the test, remember that His nail scarred hand rests on your shoulder as you go through it. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He knows your name. He knows your pain. Put your hand in His nail scarred hand! J. Johnson

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