Each of us will look back and remember times of encouragement and times of turmoil. We all know those ‘mountaintop experiences’ but we also are well acquainted with the valley experiences. How do we get through those times where life just feels like a hard slog?
The last few weeks have been a pretty hard slog for me. I recently took my first funeral, which is hard enough by itself, but the person was a close friend and a guy I was discipling weekly for two years. On top of that I’ve had three assignments for seminary, two sermons and the normal work of an assistant pastor to carry on with. It’s been an absolute battle, but here are the truths that have brought me through:
God is great (Isaiah 40)
Every time I think that everything is just too much and too hard, I turn to Isaiah 40. In that mind boggling chapter we get a glimpse of the almighty power of God. We see illustrations of his might, that he can measure the waters of the world in His hand and weigh the mountains on scales. This wonderful chapter of Isaiah gives us an insight into our amazing God who is so great and powerful, yet also so close.
So when it all seems too much, turn to Isaiah 40 and be reminded that nothing is greater than our God and nothing can stand against Him.
God is near (Romans 8)
Romans 8 is an amazing passage that proclaims some phenomenal truths! That we are free from condemnation, if we are in Christ. That as Christians we have the Holy Spirit. That we have been adopted into the family of God and that we can call Him father. That there is a glorious future that awaits us and that we can know for sure that it is coming. But one of the truths that blows me away is in v38-39
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Even if we struggle and life is a slog, nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from God in Christ. It is such an encouragement to know that despite everything we face in this life, despite all of the struggles, we come to an all-powerful and ever-present God who cares for and loves us. God is near.
God knows your pain (Matthew 11:28-29)
Lastly, God knows how hard things can be and he promises rest. After these few verses Jesus goes on to teach about the Sabbath and how Sabbath rest is a picture or shadow of the eternal rest that is to come for the Christian. But Jesus doesn’t say “man up until you get to heaven” he says “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” God knows our bodies and our needs better than we do, he knows our struggles and our pain and he doesn’t offer glib self-help strategies to get you through. Jesus really knows your pain and he offers you the think you need, rest now and rest eternally in his presence.
Ice and Fire by Mike Mellor
This book describes what I’ve been speaking about, it speaks about the reality that life can be a struggle and have times of discouragement and times of encouragement. Mellor takes ice and fire and puts a spin on them to help the reader think through the reality of what it means to follow Christ.
Mellor uses ice to describe the discouragement that come in live as Christian seek to live godly lives for the glory of Christ. He uses fire to describe the encouragements that God gives His people to spur them on and the truths that get them through.
This book is real, honest and a blow to any notion that being a Christian is going to be easy. In this book you will find wonderful truths that will help you in your discouragements, you’ll find real life examples of people who’ve suffered but lived to glorify God and you’ll be stirred to praise God more and more.