I've heard the old saying that "life is not a bed of roses" for as long as I can remember. I understand what it's trying to convey, but I've also thought that it would not really be all that great to lie down on a bed of sharp thorns. Nevertheless, it's safe to say our journey will have its ups and downs and, unfortunately, most of us will experience our share of hard times.
Whether it's a financial worry, a medical situation, family problems, a concern for the world or just being discouraged from the relentless grind of our job, life can be tough. However, in the midst of all that is going on, we can always turn to God, who is filled with an endless source of strength, hope and love. We can choose to embrace the encouraging truth that God cares about our problems and how he has the power and the solutions to give us the victory no matter the size of our mountain or how dark the night. "And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" (II Corinthians 9:8).
Yes, there are bumps in the road that can help us learn about faith and patience, but whatever the crisis, it was not God's intention for us to dwell in a state of defeat. In spite of being surrounded by negative forces, we have been given the opportunity through Christ to abide in his presence, where there is an abundance of joy, security and peace.
In John 10:10-11, we find the words of Christ, "The thief comes not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: but I (Jesus) have come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep." Whatever the situation, he has promised that he wants to save you and bring you through your trials stronger and more confident than ever.
The concept of God supplying our needs is a wonderful and true spiritual reality, but there is also a very important component to receiving his abundant blessings, and that is our responsibility to believe. If we do not have faith, it's not only impossible to please him but highly unlikely that his miracles can be activated into our life. In Jeremiah 29:11, we see that we are always on his mind and he has planned very good things for us to enjoy. But continuing in the context, the next two verses, 12-13, mention for us to take the initiative to call upon him, pray and seek his presence with all of our heart, which of course includes the element of trust and assurance.
I recall a story about a small farming community that had been experiencing a terrible drought. The crops were dying in the fields, and everyone was very worried because this is how they made their living. The pastor of the local church called a special prayer service for all the people of the town to gather in front of the church and spend some time agreeing in faith that God would send some rain. Many people arrived and you could sense the seriousness among the crowd.
As the pastor was getting ready to begin the meeting, he noticed a young girl standing quietly in the front. Her face was beaming with excitement, and then he saw beside her, open and ready for use, a large, colorful umbrella. As he stared at the umbrella, he was a little ashamed that he did not bring one but also felt a sudden surge of hope and confidence. The little girl's childlike innocence warmed his heart as he realized how much faith she possessed. Though the town had come together to pray for rain, it seemed no one else had thought that maybe they should bring an umbrella to keep from getting wet.
A life without a positive expectation and a hopeful anticipation of goodness is an example of the miserable pessimist who abides in the shadows of fear and sadness. The world and even our own human nature is constantly telling us it's impossible, it's risky, it's hopeless, but we will believe that nothing is too difficult for God and all things are possible with him.
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