The Hard Place

January 5, 2017

Lamentations 3:17-25

I cannot find peace or remember happiness. 18I tell myself, “I am finished! I can’t count on the LORD 

to do anything for me.” 19Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. 

20That’s all I ever think about, and I am depressed. 21Then I remember something that fills me with hope. 22The LORD’s kindness never fails! If he had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. 23The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning. 24Deep in my heart I say, “The LORD is all I need; I can depend on him!” 25The LORD is kind to everyone who trusts and obeys him. 26It is good for the LORD to save us. 

The Hard Place

As I was waiting upon the Lord for what to write this morning, He brought this song to my mind.  “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  His mercies never come to an end.  He is new every morning, new every morning.  Great is your faithfulness oh Lord, great is your faithfulness.”  This led me to this scripture in Lamentations, where the prophet Jeremiah is being sorely afflicted.  He feels cast down, abandoned and like the Lord Himself has even turned against him.  In the midst of his discouragement, he does like David; He sets his mind on the goodness of God and His faithfulness.  He remembers that though the Lord may allow affliction and hard times to come upon us, He will never forsake us or leave us.  His mercies are new every morning.  

There are those of us that are standing in the furnace of afflictions today.  There are those of us that will be there tomorrow and there are those of us that have recently come out of that place.  It is a difficult place and a hard place.  It is a place that tries and stretches our faith and questions the goodness and the love of God.  Isn’t it wonderful that as we look back through God’s word we see so many examples of God’s people who were in this place?  They felt the same things you have.  They cried out to God, and many times it may have seemed liked the Lord had become deaf to their cries.  Yet, there was something down in their spirit that wouldn’t let go, they just couldn’t curse and forsake the Lord.  Even Jesus came into the midst of those that mocked Him, cursed Him, spit upon Him, beat, wounded and bruised Him.  Ultimately they crucified Him.  As He hung on the cross, He cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”  Have we ever felt that, like you were all alone and God had turned His back on you?  

Paul tells us in Colossians 1:21-24, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”  In this place of affliction I believe God is tempering the steel of your godly character and faithfulness.  In this place God’s purpose is not to destroy you, but only your flesh which hinders you.  In this place you truly grasp the meaning of what it is to be crucified with Christ, yet nevertheless you live, yet not you, but Christ in you.  It forces you to reach down for something greater than yourself and to find a strength that is not your own.  This is when you begin to lay hold of the resurrection life of Christ that is more powerful than the death and pain that surrounds you.  This is the place where you are pressed into Him and a dimension of life you could have never discovered when everything was going well.  It is in that place of death that you find life and faith that sustains you and keeps you in the midst of the fiery furnace.  That is where you look over and find that other person standing with you in the furnace of affliction, like unto the Son of man, that won’t allow the fire to singe your faithfulness, but only consume from you the natural ropes that had bound you.  It is in this hard place that God is raising you up into a life not your own.  What the enemy had determined for evil, God will use for good.  What the enemy thought would discourage and separate from the Lord has only caused you to enter in and experience a greater dimension of His life and grace.  

If you are in this place, don’t be discouraged and don’t give up.  God loves you and He hasn’t forsaken you.  He is simply perfecting in you the pure gold of His nature and character.  You are precious in His sight and whom the Lord loves He chastens and purifies.  Remember, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and His mercies are new every morning.

Blessings, 

#kent

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