~ Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
and character, hope. ~
Romans 5:3 (1)
I was having a casual conversation with a coworker sometime late 2012. We were talking about the various stressors in our lives, the timing, and the severity of such. I was telling her about my ‘horrible, terrible, no-good’ year.
Pa’s death marked the beginning of the most spiritually challenging year I’d ever experienced. Three and a half months later, Meir joined Pa. I was not prepared for her passing, but she was. Three months later, my stepfather passed, also with very little warning. At the end of just that one year, I had lost seven of my closest family members.
Still it wasn’t the end. My sister finally fell completely apart, and left Mama to clean up her mess. I felt responsible for them both.
We also took three direct hits during hurricane season, fought frequently within the courts for the eventual adoption of our son, and threw in a deployment or two for giggles and grins.
“God never puts more on you than you can handle…” I beg to differ. I DID appear to handle my business. Outwardly, I was in complete control. My spirit was a mess. I knew I needed help, so when a sweet patient and her husband invited me to their church I went. I’m not much of a talker in groups, and no one there pressured me to speak.
I sat and listened to my new friends, three times each week, speak of their own circumstances. I was actually embarrassed that my complaints didn’t even hold a candle to theirs. It became increasingly apparent to me that Christians shouldn’t expect immunity from hardship. Christians are more vulnerable to hardship, as we are the golden goose that satan is chasing.
We soon moved again, and I never found another church that fed my spirit. Soon after moving I got sick. When I thought back over my life choices, I had plenty of opportunities to fortify my faith. I just never capitalized on any of them.
I felt guilty for feeling so angry at God- for piling so much on me all at once. I wondered if He was standing back, letting satan have his fun with me. I was very angry, for a very long time. And whatever was behind the war for my soul would not give up.
So, then, in my three am conversation with my coworker in 2012… I mentioned a theory- Christians are being overtly attacked and purposely undermined more so now than at any other time in history. It was the first time I’d spoken of spiritual warfare with anyone other than Mama. I was prepared to support my views, but, blessedly, I didn’t need to. My coworker had the same theory- for pretty much the same reasons.
The longer we talked, the more people joined in our conversation. Everyone said the same types of hardships have grown increasingly powerful within their families, communities, and churches. The “hardships” are attacks, and the attacks are overtly spiritual. They may manifest themselves as physical, emotional, or financial destruction- but there’s no doubt satan is recruiting, and recruiting effectively.
The one unbeliever in our group eventually asked what most unbelievers ask:
“But why do bad things happen to good people?”
‘Good people’ are not simply good people, but God’s people. How do they win? How do they, always the underdogs, compete for themselves, their families, their communities, and our country without quitting?
In Jeremiah, chapter 12, Jeremiah pleads his case to God, pointing out the many ways in which the wicked always seem to prosper, and the righteous are tested again and again.
First, God addressed Jeremiah’s perception of unfairness. The only route to endurance and perseverance is by successfully navigating obstacles (trials).
~ If you have raced with men on foot, and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? ~ Jeremiah 12:5 (2)
Then, God assured Jeremiah the wicked are well known to Him, and they will not escape His justice.
~They will sow wheat but reap thorns; they will wear themselves out but gain nothing. ~ Jeremiah 12:13 (3)
There are many passages that address the spiritual fortitude needed to successfully counter satan’s relentless attempts to stack the deck in his favor. Without true spiritual fortitude, Christians are weak, easy prey. Satan is laying it on thick and heavy nowadays.
American Christians are comfortably complacent. We are inundated by liberal media, humanism, lawlessness, and lewdness. We are hardened by secularism. And, sadly, the silent majority continues to accept it all, in the name of societal expectation.
While we’ve become apathetic and complacent, satan has been hard at work. We love nice things, so satan has made them obtainable. The sick want to be healed, so satan delivers to them false hope by immoral means. Folks blame God when satan’s solutions goes awry, dividing us, as satan intended.
The devil plants his field with seeds of doubt. He emotionally and spiritually hijacks weak Christians.
Consider the rate at which Christians trade their faith for comfort or pleasure, along with the extent Americans have allowed political agendas to overshadow our fundamental Biblical foundation. American Christianity is in a mess. We are not pleasing God, here. And we all know it.
Biblical Christianity is essential.
Picture the ‘good’ people you know- the ones in your life that give you no pause or reason to doubt their absolute devotion to God. Then think of the compounding trials and hardships they endure.
Do they give up on God? Or does their faith shine, drawing others to faith by simply walking as they’ve been asked to walk?
They never give up, do they? They take every single pitch satan delivers, and they knock the cover off the ball. Every. Single. Time. That’s biblical Christianity.
God tells us how the game will turn out. Worldwide persecution will continue. Humanism will only get worse. Un-faith will harden hearts, and satan will take credit for it all.
Please do not, my friends, allow temporary pleasure to steal your eternal joy. Bear up the weight of your cross. Seek out and hold only to truth; cast out all else. Play as you were intended to play- shine without shame. Welcome opportunities to be sharpened and tuned for perseverance.
A time is coming when we will be forced to bat for either God or His nemesis. Be ready to knock the cover off the ball.
Be blessed, Y’all.
~ He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. ~
Isaiah 40:29-31 (4)