Living Beyond - Part 2
Christmas is touted as 'the most wonderful time of the year' and with good reason. In Jamaica, everyone seems to soften as families get together, our weather is pleasant, the food is festive, and acts of kindness increase. We often wish that Christmas would last throughout the year.
However, as we discussed last week, Christmas does not always bring joyful events. Some of us have lost loved ones during the season like the family and friends of the late veteran journalist Ian Boyne. We commiserate with them on Jamaica's loss.
Accidents and incidents may pile on the pressure. But Jesus Christ came to bring joy and peace to all those who choose Him. Therefore, no matter what hardships face us in life, our hope in Him does not fail. So how does he teach us to respond to hardships?
DON'T PANIC ... ASK GOD FOR HELP
The book of Hebrews encourages us: "Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16 NIV.
Since the answer and the power for our relief is in God, our persistent prayer should be for God to intervene. We have to let our focus remain on God and not on the magnitude of our problems.
We have to do this even when we feel like God is not there. David felt isolated from God when he was running from King Saul, who tried to kill him. In Psalm 13:1 NIV, David writes: 'How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?' David never knew it at the time but God was forming kingly character in him. The isolation had a purpose.
When we are in the middle of our great despair in life, we must realise that God can use our troubles to sharpen us. So do not succumb to panic attacks and pity parties! The Lord invites us in 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV) to "Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you."
WAIT ON GOD'S TIMING ... IT IS PERFECT
Sometimes it seems that when we go to God with an emergency prayer for help, His help is agonisingly slow in getting to us. But God's ways are not our ways, and His timing is always perfect.
Jesus' close friend, Lazarus, got sick and Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha, summoned Jesus to heal him, but before Jesus got there, Lazarus died. Mary and Martha thought that Jesus had waited too long, but Jesus came at the perfect time so that His Name would be glorified.
God's timing is often different from ours, and so is His focus. He wants what is best for us eternally, and we want what is best for us instantly.
In James 1, we are told to consider it pure joy when we have troubles of many kinds because it builds perseverance. Our suffering is uncomfortable, but God knows that it is for our own good.
Imagine that you lose all of your precious children; you lose your wealth; you are struck down with a severe illness; and you have a spouse who is telling you to just die and get it over with. What would you really do?
What did Job do? He fell to the ground and worshipped God. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him," Job 13:15a. He held on to his faith even in the wake of great calamity and despair.
When we go through the tough times in our lives, we must also be faithful and keep our trust in God. "Without faith, it is impossible to please God." Hebrews11:6 NIV. To have faith in Jesus means to trust Him simply, exclusively, and without reservation. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved," Acts 4:12 NIV.
During the stress of our storms, you can rely on what Jesus told us in Matthew 11:28, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and, burdened, and I will give you rest."