Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pressed But Not Crushed

I spent much of this last week feeling completely and utterly defeated. I felt like a failure as a mom, a wife and as a believer. I was discouraged at every turn and I was quickly sinking into despair. I cried out to the Lord. I told Him exactly how I felt. I even told Him that I didn't want to feel this way. Still it persisted... Now I am free once again and the Lord showed me what had happened. Just in case you want to learn this lesson with me...

The enemy cannot read our minds but he has spent thousands of years studying the human race and a life time spying on me. He knows my fears better than I do and he does everything within his power to convince me that my worst fears are becoming a reality. Everything that happens to me must first pass through the Lord's hands, however, He wants me to grow in knowledge and strength so He allows certain tests to come my way so that I can overcome them. "When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing... God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:2-4, 12)

So how do we pass the testing of our faith? How do we patiently endure without falling into despair? Beth Moore, in "Believing God", suggests that our shield of faith has five points. When we are tested, which key of faith is being tried?

  1. God IS who He says He is!
  2. God CAN DO what He says He can do!
  3. I AM who God says that I am!
  4. I can do ALL things through Christ!
  5. God's Word is alive and active in me!

I seem to believe statements 1 and 2 readily, however, I struggle with statements 3 and 4. Somehow, I seem to buy into the lie that I am the exception to God's rules. I am the project that is too big for God. The devil whispers lies to me and instead of instantly rejecting them, I let them rule my feelings. Once my emotions are involved, the battle is harder BUT I CAN STILL BE VICTORIOUS!

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed." The Greek word translated as crushed can also be translated as to be cramped in distress or a narrow space. Now this caught my attention! You'll notice my theme verse for this blog is found in Psalm 18:19. The Lord brought me out into a spacious place and I am not willing to surrender that!

2 Corinthians 4 continues to say that we experience constant opportunities to die to our self nature so that we can experience Christ's resurrection power. My feelings were telling me that I was being wronged. Robbed of something I deserved. Who am I to tell the God of the Universe that I know better than He does what I need? It's hard to set aside pride - to acknowledge that He knows best when what's best is learning a lesson. Verses such as Psalm 84:11, Matthew 7:11 and Luke 11:13 tell us that God loves to give us what's best! If He's withholding something good from me, I must be supposed to learn something better in the midst of it.

2 Corinthians 4:13 says, "I have believed and therefore have I spoken. We too believe, and therefore we speak." For reasons that I don't understand, spoken words have power. I was speaking the content of my emotions rather than what I believed as my rights as a child of God. I was telling myself, others and even God how I felt rather than putting my feelings aside and telling myself the Truth of God's Word - outloud!! Put the key verses on cue cards! Read them out loud. Ask friends to pray these verses for you. Pray them for yourself! Lift that shield of faith up high! The devil recognizes the authority of God's Word and he must flee! If Christ responded to him by quoting scripture, how much more should we!

"For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18)

"For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance." (2 Corinthians 5:7)

So, instead of being rash and complaining against the Lord my God as the people of Israel did in the book of Habakkuk, I desire to face troubles, suffering and testing by proclaiming aloud the words of Habakkuk 3:18-19 "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation! The Lord is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds' feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!" And guess what! It works! "Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God!" (Romans 10:17) Once again, I'm free!

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