Every Christian has known mountaintop peaks and deep, dark valleys in their walk with Jesus. In my experience, it’s the valleys—the low places, trials and difficult times—that teach us how to be people of prayer, hope and courageous service.
“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12, NKJV). In this verse, Paul tells the Christians in Philippi not to worry about all the things they’d heard had befallen him. All those “things” he refers to included great afflictions and infirmities.
Many Christians experience a turn in their lives they never see coming. When it arrives, it causes an ongoing trial they couldn’t imagine in their worst nightmares. Their life was on a blessed course, maybe one of ambition and achievement, desire and fulfillment, pursuing the things they feel God made them for. Life itself seemed like a straight line forward with a promising outlook and every good thing ahead. Then their lot in life took a crooked turn.
God’s goodness simply can’t be nailed down. It transcends our understanding, yet it blesses us in every moment of our lives. His goodness can’t be defined, yet we know its truth through scripture and the Spirit’s witness. How can any human being ever get their head around the awesome goodness of God?
Psalm 107 has been called “the Old Testament love feast.” It is one of the most encouraging passages in all of God’s Word, and it is meant especially for those needing forgiveness, deliverance or restoration. The final verse promises the reader an understanding of who God truly is. “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord” (Psalm 107:43, NKJV).
This season has been one of pandemic, protests, riots, political upheaval and economic uncertainty. The immediate fear may have subsided, but many now live with a troubling uncertainty. Some struggle with isolation, others with health, others with loss of work and keeping their families afloat. Amid all of this, they still don’t know what next week will bring or what their long-term future will be.
Using the Strength that God’s Spirit Has Given You
The apostle Paul exhorts us, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12, NKJV). Paul lived the kind of fight he describes. Near the end of his ministry, he could boast, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
What happens to our soul when we experience deep, personal grief? What role does grief have in our walk with Jesus? In one brief passage, Peter explains it all. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7, ESV).