The Lord has been teaching me more about walking with Him lately. I shared earlier this month what He showed me about my striving, and on two recent Sundays in a row, He challenged me one step farther.
One Sunday, we were singing a song– one we and thousands of other churches around the world have sung hundreds of times. He challenged me over the last words:
“Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.” …
He asked me if I really believe that. Even when I’m facing things that are difficult and painful.
Paul said, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:8) …
What about me?
When I’m in a time of trial, or when I’m hurting over something someone has done to me and I find myself crying bitter tears or inwardly screaming in anger because I’m not being treated “right”… do I believe, in those moments, that what God has for me is still worth more than having that person treat me right? Do I believe that it outweighs the difficult things?
If there was a balance scale in front of me, with God’s promises and grace and strength and “the fulness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23) on one side of it, could I ever pile enough mess and trouble and pain and frustration on the other side to outweigh the greatness of all He has given me?
You see, I’ve found myself falling into thinking lately, “I can’t handle much more of this. If this doesn’t quit…” And there the Lord catches me. If this doesn’t quit… what? He reminds me that there’s nothing strange about the fact that I can’t handle it. That’s the whole reason He sent a Savior.
He asks me whether I think His grace and strength has limits that circumstances are about to hit.
That’s when I realize how foolish I’m being and how very little I’m trusting in Him. I realize that circumstances only seem overwhelming because I’m not relying on Him and resting in Him.
Of course life is going to throw more at me than I can handle. But there never will be more than He can handle. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble. But fear not, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) I’m never, ever going to get to see just how much He can handle for me and how much He has overcome unless He lets circumstances pass my own abilities and unless He teaches me to “cease striving.” He says we will, “Know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)
Just this weekend while we were on vacation, I had the opportunity to listen to a wonderful message at the church we were visiting. I loved the passage in Jeremiah 17 that the message was based on, because it was further confirmation of what the Lord was impressing on me.
7 “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
The one who trust in the Lord will have deep roots in Him. And when those difficult times come… when the heat comes and nothing else in life is nourishing and encouraging us… when others say, “I don’t know how much more of this I can handle,” …we will not fear for our welfare.
But not only will we not fear, do you see what this passage dares to say we will do? We won’t hunker down and hold tight to what we have and who we are so we’ll make it through. We won’t have to conserve resources.
We will never fail to bear fruit! Even in the heat and drought!
I am challenged to stand in circumstances that overwhelm me, and to remind myself of these promises. I am challenged to believe them in difficult times. To believe that He is more than enough to sustain me. To believe that He is so sufficient that I can bear fruit even then. To cease striving and to know that He is more than enough.
He showed me the reality of this, too, for when He spoke these things to me, and I realized the truth of them, His peace overwhelmed me instead of circumstances overwhelming me. Nothing changed (immediately, at least) in the circumstances… the change was inside me, as He strength overcame my weakness, and His peace overwhelmed my frustration.
We need to quit listening to those lies that “I can’t handle much more,” and instead rest in His promises. Then we will experience the marvelous miracles of provision and sufficiency that these verses promise. We’ll have all that He is surround us, and we’ll watch His promised faithfulness overwhelm the circumstances that are overwhelming us.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)
If you’re reading this, and these promises seem sooo far out of reach, know that all you’ve got to do is reach for Him. And keep reaching. And surrender. Sometimes surrender is so hard… but when we finally know that nothing is working without Him taking control, then it becomes easy. Just reach for Him, and keep reaching, and keep waiting as He works on your heart in His own beautiful timing until He can start revealing Himself in glorious ways beyond your comprehension.