Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Lessons From the Night
By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Daily Life Producer
When all else fails read the directions. That’s my husband’s motto.
Whether he is putting together my latest “assembly-required” purchase, or setting up his new DVD player, the directions are the first thing to be tossed aside when he opens the box. Only when his attempts fail will he pull out the directions to see where he went wrong.
I, on the other hand, consider the literature that comes with products to be a must-read. I want to know all there is to know about my new gadget, including any problems that could come up and how to troubleshoot them. I want to be well prepared.
Perhaps if I approached Scripture that way, life would be much easier.
God has given us His Word to provide instructions for every situation we face, but sometimes I fail to use it. Like my husband’s approach to assembling new gadgets, I often turn to my own way of doing things before checking out what God has to say about it. It’s only after I fail miserably that I decide to read God’s Instruction Manual.
That’s what happened a year and a half ago.
I’ve been reflecting recently on how God brought me out of a dark night of the soul experience around this time last year. (Read about it here.) As I reflect back on those dark days, I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness. He pulled me from despair when I was helpless to get myself back on track.
I had been caught off guard by the sudden storm that hit my life. I wasn’t prepared for it.
Looking back at the experience there are several things the Lord taught me from it. They are lessons I wish I would have learned and put into practice well ahead of the storm. Perhaps then my reaction would have been much different.
Had I been following His Instruction Manual more closely, and hiding His promises in my heart, I believe I would have been better equipped to ride out the storm.
Here are the directives that I hope to remember the next time the dark clouds start to gather. Perhaps they may help you too.
In this world you will have trouble.
Jesus said it (John 16:33). I’d read it. But for some reason I didn’t get it.
For years I’ve made the mistake of assuming that if I followed God, I would escape trouble and tragedies. I knew I would experience the occasional cold or flu, and loved ones would die, perhaps of old age, but somehow I thought the really bad things of life would not happen to me or my family. I’ve since learned that God never made such a promise.
What He did promise was to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Life, death, and all the ups and downs in between are things that we will all experience. However, He has written our beginnings and our endings. And if we are Christians, He has promised to use the stuff in the middle for His glory. Because we know that He loves us, we can trust Him to be in control of every moment of our lives.
I’m sure when the apostle Paul wrote this (1 Thessalonians 5:17), he meant it as an encouragement to always be in an attitude of prayer. I agree with that. But I also now see it as an admonishment to never stop praying, whatever the circumstances. Don’t stop talking to God! Even if the only words you can muster are questions of doubt or cries of despair, He can handle it. He already knows exactly how you feel anyway.
Read through the psalms and you will find desperate pleas to God. But you will also notice that once the psalmists take those cares to God, they often end their prayers with an affirmation of trust in the Lord. They seem to be more hopeful.
Why the change of heart? Because that’s what God does for us. He comforts us. He renews us. He restores our souls. But first we must spend time in His presence allowing Him access to those deep places in our hearts.
Don't give the devil a foothold.
Don't hold onto resentment. Release any anger to God. Ask Him to help you forgive anyone who has wronged you. If we allow anger, bitterness, or unforgiveness to take root in our lives, it gives the devil opportunities to pour fuel on the fire (Ephesians 4:26-27).
Satan often attacks us when we are at our weakest. Don’t believe his lies. Refute them with the Word of God. Study God's Word to stand on His promises. Tape them to your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Print them out on index cards and carry them everywhere you go, if you need to. Constantly remind yourself that God is in control, and you can trust Him because He loves you.
Give thanks in all circumstances.
I've struggled with this instruction that Paul gave to the early church. Is it even possible? How do we praise God when our lives seem to be falling apart?
The answer lies in the fact that we praise God for who He is; therefore, our praise is not dependent on our circumstances.
Read Scriptures about God's love, faithfulness, and how He never changes to remind you who He is and why He is worthy of praise.
Fill your home, car, or office with praise music. The Bible says that God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3).
Pray for one another.
Scripture tells us to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and to pray for each other (James 5:16) for good reason. We all need the support of fellow believers.
The Bible says, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much"(James 5:16). Don't be shy about asking others to pray for you.
Ultimately, it was the prayers of God’s people that brought me through my dark night of the soul. The experience taught me how important it is that we pray for each other.
As Christians living in a fallen world, where the devil roams around looking for someone to devour, we can not escape problems and suffering. But if we hold firmly to God's promises, we will find that He is the Rock that we can cling to when life is spinning out of control.
We can be assured of our ultimate victory over our trials because we’ve read the Instruction Book, and we know how the story ends. We can look forward to the day when our sufferings will cease, and He will wipe every tear from our eyes.
Until then, we can take heart in the words of Christ.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. -- John 16:33
Find hope and peace in Him until the clouds break and your dark night turns to dawn.
Missed part one of this article? Read it here.
Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Meet Him today.
Comments? Email me
More articles by Belinda on CBN.com
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