Friday, January 3, 2014

From Discouragement To Joy

As a father I understand the importance of hands-on lessons. Verbal instructions are important but they are not as effective as practical learning. It is for this reason that I allow my children to face situations that seem impossible for them. Of course it seems impossible because they have yet to learn what they are capable of doing. They are capable but they have yet to learn it. I would never allow them to be in any danger or allow anything to harm them but I have been known to let them fail at a task.

Am I a mean father? Some may think so but I hope that my children can see my love in all that I do. It is always my plan to encourage them in their failure, to try again, and I stand with them to lend them the strength and encouragement they need. Sounds ideal, if my humanity didn't get in the way. Often times frustration comes in when a child fails from lack of effort or simply because they didn't want to. This is the reason why our Heavenly Father is the perfect Father, because our failures do not frustrate him, no matter the cause.

However, we do discover many examples in the Word where God teaches practical lessons through our living, and sometimes he uses our failures as the greatest lessons. In the beginning this can be hard for us to understand and accept but the longer we know him the better we understand to trust him. If we have lived and served him long enough to have grey hair and yet still panic in places where we should trust, there is a problem with our spiritual maturity level.

The longer we spend with God the clearer certain lessons should be for us. For instance, we should easily understand that God is for us, not against us. We should also know that we can do everything through Jesus because he gives us the strength to do all things. And one question that should be answered early on in our infancy with God is this one thing:

Is anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14, NKJV)

In fact, the passage where this is taken from is a great example. Sarah and Abraham were old but God had promised them a child. Sarah's reaction to God's promise was a mocking laughter. It was an internal laughter, something we all do, but God knows our heart and he heard the mocking. It is funny how the God of the impossible can turn our doubt, fear, anxiety into joy. A few chapters later, as Sarah has given birth, she testifies:

And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.” (Genesis 21:6, NKJV)

A much different laughter. From mockery to joy. From sorrow to joy. From anxiety to joy. From fear to joy. Is anything too hard for the Lord? That is the question you have to answer for yourself. As a father, I just want to assure you that God has purpose in everything that you face. The enemy is not in charge and has no say over you. It is our God who is sovereign and who knows all your days before you have lived them. It is our Father who has plans to build us up and not tear us down. And it is Jesus who said to us:

 “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me." (John 14:1, CEB)

 Let 2014 be a year of trust and spiritual growth as our Father turns all things to joy in you.

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