In Adversity, He Teaches Us about the Depths of His Love
In Isaiah 29, the prophet Isaiah stood tearfully before God’s people in Jerusalem as he delivered a fearful message. He said that a great and humbling test of faith loomed before them. They all would wake up one day, look out over the city walls and behold a vicious enemy surrounding them: the Assyrian army.
The city of God would be besieged. The Assyrians would raise up mounds outside the city gates to breach the walls. Their infantry would pound the city with battering rams day and night.
During this time, God’s people would be brought to a place of moaning and groaning as if in a fiery furnace. They would wonder if their plight would ever end. Isaiah said the trial would become so heavy that God’s people would be utterly broken by the battle; they would be left with no physical strength except to whisper. “You shall be brought down, you shall speak out of the ground; your speech shall be low, out of the dust; your voice shall be like a medium’s, out of the ground; and your speech shall whisper out of the dust” (Isaiah 29:4, NKJV).
This prophetic warning sounds very familiar to me. It describes what the New Testament says many Christians will face. We are warned that in the last days, God’s children will go through great spiritual trials.
I don’t believe there ever has been a time like the present with so many devoted Christians worldwide being so incredibly tested. God is allowing his children to be tried by fire, and many are going through the test of their lives.
Isaiah’s difficult prophesy included that God would miraculously and faithfully deliver his people right on time.
Isaiah ended his prophecy by giving the people great promises of victory and deliverance. Indeed, the proclamations of woe are followed by proclamations of promise.
“Moreover the multitude of your foes shall be like fine dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones like chaff that passes away; yes, it shall be in an instant, suddenly. You will be punished by the Lord of hosts with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with storm and tempest and the flame of devouring fire. The multitude of all the nations who fight against Ariel, even all who fight against her and her fortress, and distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision. It shall even be as when a hungry man dreams, and look—he eats; but he awakes, and his soul is still empty; or as when a thirsty man dreams, and look—he drinks; but he awakes, and indeed he is faint, and his soul still craves: so the multitude of all the nations shall be, who fight against Mount Zion” (Isaiah 29:5-8).
What a forceful vision of God intervening for his people. Isaiah is saying, “When you think it’s hopeless and you can’t go another step, suddenly the Lord will come in like a raging storm and surprise your enemies. He will visit their camp and dissolve their plans into nothingness. God is going to lift you out of the pit of despair and bring you into his full blessing.”
These are incredible promises. Like the people of Jerusalem, we also have been warned of fiery trials and an enemy who will wage war against us. We will be persecuted and slandered, facing hardship and suffering for the sake of Christ. Indeed, true worshipers will suffer more than anyone else. The closer you walk to Jesus and more you hunger for him, the more you will be tried and tempted. Satan is determined to ruin all that is holy and righteous, so he has unleashed a huge attack to smear, discourage and hurt all who represent the pure light of Christ.
We are not to be surprised by enemy attacks. No matter how difficult our situation or how boisterous the storm, God promises he has a set time to move in and bring total deliverance. You see, the purpose of suffering and trials is that God may bring us to a place of sweetness and rest, producing in us the nature of Christ, the beauty of Jesus.
Many Christians write to us saying, “My trial is endless. When will it ever stop?”
Don’t think your trial, however long, is something unusual. The apostle Peter writes, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Jesus tells a parable in which a persistent woman cried night and day for justice. Finally, the judge avenged her for the simple reason that she bothered him persistently. Jesus uses this illustration to show us what he will do for us if we trust him. “And shall God not avenge his own elect who cry out day and night to him, though he bears long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8). Jesus is assuring us, “Make sure you understand that the Lord will fight your battles. He will do it all for you. Therefore, hold onto your faith.”
Christ himself was the fulfillment of the promises given to the prophets. They foresaw a day when a deliverer, the Messiah, would come down from glory to save God’s people from every possible enemy. “He spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us…to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life” (Luke 1:70-71, 74-75).
The Lord says to us, “No matter who it is that comes against you, I will deliver you from every one of them. You can live all your days in peace and rest in me.”
God’s provision isn’t enough for many Christians because they want to see his work happen on their schedule.
God has given us his Holy Spirit as our comforter, teacher and guide. He has given us great and precious promises whereby we are made partakers of his divine nature. Yet even with these incredible promises, we would rather see immediate results by our own hand.
I believe the most difficult thing for a child of God to do is nothing! It’s extremely hard to stand still and wait on the Lord to act, to watch as things get worse, to see your enemies go unjudged and to not retaliate. It takes everything within us to quiet the urge to do something.
Isaiah told the people, “Therefore the Lord will wait, that he may be gracious to you; and therefore he will be exalted, that he may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18).
This verse says it all. It is impossible to exalt God fully before humankind except by showing full confidence in him. Even though the Lord desires to move in with mercy and deliverance, he will wait to answer.
God is saying to us, in essence, “So you think you don’t need me right now because you’re so busy doing everything yourself. I have a plan to show my grace to you, but right now I am testing you to see if you’ll turn and rest in me. I’ll wait until you’ve exhausted all your human effort and self-reliance.”
I ask you, to whom do you unburden your soul? Who gets an earful of all your troubles? God says, “I will wait for you to return to me. I’ll wait until you understand and believe that I will be gracious to you. Cry out to me, and
I will keep my word.” In scripture, the psalmist says, “You shall weep no more.
He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you” (Isaiah 30:19).
What a wonderful promise the Lord adds next; even though we may be in adversity, we will be lovingly taught by him. “And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:20-21).
The Spirit of Jesus will guide us. He will teach us precious lessons, and we will know why we have been tested. There will be no more darkness or deception. He will provide us with clear guidance.
Dear saint, God’s plan is for you to be blessed and to prosper in the Spirit of Christ, to his own glory. He is going to scatter all your enemies, and by his hand, you will enjoy the bread of increase. Hallelujah!