We all go through seasons in life. Some up and some down. Some good and some trying. God is always with us through all of them, no matter what. However, sometimes it really seems like He is much farther away than at other times. Sometimes it seems that He is completely silent when we need Him most. I have had many hard days in my life when I was very sure God was very far away. The circumstances of my life and the suffering I was enduring was a clear indicator that God no longer cared about me.
I think we all go through season in our lives where we believe God does not hear our cries. We look for evidence in our circumstances that God is listening. When we don’t see tangible proof of God moving, we feel abandoned and lose hope. For me, it has been very easy to lose hope. I have been in many hopeless circumstances, and have brought that hopelessness with me into many seasons of my life. What I didn’t know was that even in the most hopeless of circumstances, God is still moving.
I know for many people, they have given up on hope because they feel God is silent. They have been praying and praying and begging God to fix their circumstance or heal their pain, but nothing ever changes. If God is really moving, if God really does answer our prayers and hear our cries, then why do we not see any changes in our lives? Maybe it’s because we don’t know what we are supposed to be looking for.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18
Recently I went through a bought of severe affliction in my life. I am no stranger to suffering. I have seen my share of suffering, time and again. However I have taken great pains to go through deliverance and healing, and to give myself over to the Holy Spirit for renewal as often as He has asked. So why then, as a Christian who has been promised an abundant life, was I finding myself once again in the midst of suffering?
At first my affliction wasn’t so bad. As the days turned into weeks, my physical pain became greater. As the weeks turned into months, my physical pain turned into emotional anguish. My begging and pleading turned into anger and despair. I was certain God had given up on me once and for all. If He would not spare His servant, who has been so faithful to to Him, from this kind of suffering, then surely He was no longer listening to me. If God did not care for me, then I had no reason for hope at all.
Even in the midst of my despair I continued to seek healing from God. I have inner healing session weekly, and several times I addressed my affliction. I went into deep places of emotional trauma from past events that were directly related to my current suffering. Each time I was sure it was enough and waited for the healing to come. However, instead of healing I would only see temporary relief and then actually get worse.
I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.
How does a person go into that level of healing and not get better, but get worse!? I could not fathom it. It only drove me deeper into confusion and despair. As upset as I was, I was unwilling to completely give up on God. While part of me was dying inside, another part of me was willing that I should fight for the truth and God’s promises over my life. So I continued to seek God and answers to why my trials would not end.
Finally, when I could take it no longer, the dam burst open and heaven itself poured out over my heart. I had to be willing to look into the darkness in my soul and see things I never wanted to know, but Jesus met me there. It was in that dark place where I was willing to humble myself, that Jesus was able to open His arms wide and let His healing rivers of Living Waters flow. It was not that He could not before, it was that I had to keep fighting to get to the root of the problem. Without getting to the root, the wounds were continuing to fester and swell through out my life in unmanageable ways.
Many times Jesus has shown me where He was in the midst of my afflictions and trials. Even when my physical being could not detect Him, He was there. God is spirit, and He does not move in the ways of man. He moves in the ways that protect our spirit. Our spirit is eternal, and can either be dammed to hell or have everlasting life in heaven with the Father. If we forsake our spirit, then we will find the consequences unbearable. Jesus is not willing to see that happen, and so behind the scenes, He is working in unimaginable ways to protect and provide that for us.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
We have to understand that the enemy is going to do whatever it takes to convince us that God does not hear us, or has abandoned us. That is why we must live by faith and not by sight. Our emotions are going to deceive us because our hearts are wounded and betrayed by the world. If we continue to live by allowing our souls to lead, we are going to miss out on some of the best moments in the presence of God.
God is in the midst of every trial and tribulation in this life. Jesus never promised us an easy life, He promised an abundant life. What does an abundant life look like? A life led by the Spirit of God, and full of His presence, grace, compassion, mercy, hope and love. A life led with trust in our Father and intimacy through His Spirit. Abundant life means the abundance of His Spirit in our lives, filling it to overflowing with all these good things He provides without measure. Heaped on and poured out endlessly, if only we will open our hearts to receive Him.
I did come to a point of total healing in this particular trial. It taught me one very important lesson, one which I gleaned from the Book of Job. When Satan came into the throne room of God, He didn’t ask for God’s permission to test Job. God Himself pointed Job out to Satan. He said “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
Why would God point out Job to Satan, when He knew Satan would want to immediately target Job for destruction? The reason God wanted to bring attention to Job was because He was proud of Him. God knew that although Job had some issues with pride and self worth, He was indeed a true lover of the goodness of His Father God. He knew that through some refining in the fire, not only would Job learn to become humble, but that it would build His faith and relationship with God. He knew that even through the fire, Satan could not turn Job from God. It was simply impossible.
So a testing and refining from the trials and tribulations of life actually bring us closer to God, and further from ourselves, and the plans that enemy has to destroy us. What could possibly be a better outcome? By the end of my trial I was able to cry out, thank you Lord, that you have deemed me a blameless and upright woman of God, who turns away from evil. Thank you God, that you have brought me through the fire and refined what needed to be purified, so I could be closer to you. Thank you Lord that your love is stronger than any testing of the devil, and that in your strength, I will overcome.
Let this be your prayer and cry today. Your Father is standing with you right now. You need only to believe it.
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.