Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. Do you not remember what He said?
“In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world.”
We were told to expect this.
Our comforts have lulled us to sleep and made us forgetful. It is time to wake up and remember whom we worship and where our true country lies.
As Paul told the people of Athens, who were worshipping everything in search of finding the right thing, the God you seek is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. The God you seek gives life and breath and everything else.
And this God marks out our appointed times and the places of our dwelling. He has chosen us to be here, in this place and for this time. Why? Not so we will be comfortable and safe. Not so we will be rich and secure. Not so we will live our days in peace and prosperity.
“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27).
Any time a people begins to think their happiness lies in idols of gold or stone or wood—or health or political peace or nice homes or any “image made by human design and skill”—those people have lost their way.
Remember? Remember what he has promised?
The same God who gives us those things has promised to sustain us when they are taken away. The same God who leads us in green pastures also walks us through the valley of the shadow of death.
Because he wants us to seek him, and find him, and know that he alone is our sustenance. He alone is all we need. Standing at the mouth of the dark valley, full of fear, we may forget that. We may want to look back at the comforts we leave behind. But he’s asking us to reach out and take his hand. He is not far from us. In fact, he is right here. He has always been right here.
These times in which we find ourselves are still his times, still the times in which he is drawing us. And we were born for such a time as this. We get to decide how we will walk through it.
Courage. This is his time. This is our chance to help his beloved people reach out and find him. But you might have to go first. You might have to lead the way.
We are “strangers and exiles on the earth . . . seeking a homeland.” Like those before us, if we think only of the land from which we go out, we may have opportunity to return. But, like them, may we “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one,” so God will not “be ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:13-16).
Take heart. This world is full of trouble.
We walk with the One who has overcome.