After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples were instructed by Jesus to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon them and then they would be fully equipped and released to build the kingdom. “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49.
In times of uncertainty, discomfort and fear of the unknown how does one rest in the one who is Faithful?
Jesus, the anointed and highly favored Son of God had to go through fasting and testing for 40 days and while Satan threw accusations at His purpose and identity. He never took focus off the great calling over His life through gratifying the flesh in the form of turning stones into bread to feed Himself, and proving to people that He is the Messiah by performing signs and wonders before His time. If He had done so, He would have failed the test and the ministry that started right after His 40 days of testing would cease to exist. His ultimate fate to die on the cross for our sins would have been aborted and unaccomplished. In those difficult times, to name a few, Job, Joseph, Moses, Jesus all came to the conclusion that through it all.. God is just and He is good. We are secure in His promises.
“And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering. In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.” 2 Thessalonians 1:5-6
In Ecclesiastes 3:11, depending on the version, it says “He makes all things beautiful in His time.” And another version being, “He makes all things beautiful in its time.” The first one is more focused on the future, whereas, the second one is in present. Not only can God make sense of everything in hindsight when we are in the future but also in the present situation. He redeems every hardship we experience in life depending on our faithfulness on how we use the time we have currently. Nothing we go through in life is in vain if we surrender to God’s will and purposes.
The wilderness equipped Jesus to have the grace and divine capacity to endure all the heartache, pain, rejection, and the weight of sin unto his death on the cross, whereas, He otherwise could not have if He did not demonstrate patience and self control in the desert. What does that say about God’s perspective when it comes to time redeemed? The one who holds the world in the palm of His hand, who is the Alpha and the Omega does not consider time passed as an issue and will not falter in the promises over your life. “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” Isaiah 46:10. A constant remind is to be still, and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10) and that the battle is not ours but the Lord’s (2 Chronicles 20:15).
Like Jesus, you may have temptation to retaliate when people speak about you behind your back or even to your face. It might even be the devil himself telling you that you must defend yourself to prove your worth to others. But He says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” He will make them (meaning the dark forces since the battle is not against flesh and blood) pay for every disappointment and every tear shed. “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Psalm 56:8
Like Jesus, Satan might have tried to the tempt you to push ahead in your own strength for fear of missing out rather than to trust that the Lord will be the one to lift you up in His time. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9. Entrust the Father with your hurt, fears, dreams and failures and may He be the one to resurrect them at the proper time. We live in a society where people in the workplace and ministry burn out due to the pressures not just put on by others but by themselves. What may have initially been well intended built on the wrong foundation can become an idol and a hindrance to the way God wants to accomplish things. “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” Zechariah 4:6. Out with the old and in with the new.
“And no one puts new wine into old wine skins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wine skins so that both are preserved.”Matthew 9:17
Certain things must be put to death and surrendered to God’s will. Although there were prophesies about Christ’s resurrection, people still had unbelief and were blindsided when He became the fulfillment of the Word. In the same way, we must not lose hope and trust that God will raise us back to life in His way and time but not a moment too soon or a moment too late to let our selves die to our old nature. “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.” Hosea 6:2. Where there was strife comes entering into His rest. The old covenant replaced with the new. Jesus didn’t become a mediator for our restored relationship with the Father just so that we could offer our own well intended but misguided sacrifices that Jesus became 2000 years ago. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6
The tendency of some parents’ can be to put high and most times unrealistic expectations on their children to be successful. This dynamic creates an insecure mindset that the children will never be good enough and they will perform in order to get acceptance. It doesn’t help when you are born in a country where individualistic attitudes thrive and along with that self ambition, pride, and comparison. Culturally, we are conditioned to rush the process of acquiring the “American Dream” at the expense of our health and relationships thus neglecting our children’s needs and those we love. Life becomes a rat race and the quality of it becomes devalued in pursuit of the very thing we hope to gain.
Looking at the life of Joseph, there was obvious favoritism from his father, Jacob over his brothers and when Joseph dreamt about having the favour of God on His life, “..his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.” Genesis 37:11
The dreams he had from God which he told in haste eventually became the catalyst that propelled Joseph into his destiny and calling. Therefore, redeeming the painful past Joseph had endured. So regardless of your past failures, God is able to accomplish even more through your surrendered weaknesses. Despite circumstances, He is able to resurrect the past and create life from presumably dead places. Joseph’s unjust imprisonment of 15 long suffering years refined him to lay down his desire for revenge so that the Lord could trust Him with the position of 2nd in command to Pharaoh over all of Egypt. When he met his brothers, instead of taking justice into his own hands, he entrusted it to the hands of God and in return he found favor with man and was reconciled to his family.
“When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” Genesis 50:15-21
If it wasn’t for finding that love & acceptance first from the One who mattered most and who was always there for Him, Joseph would never welcomed his brothers with open arms full of grace and forgiveness. He would have missed the opportunity if he held onto his pride and bitterness by sentencing them to a life of slavery or even death. In those times of rejection and betrayal like what Joseph experienced, seek after the Lord who was also betrayed by his close friend who understands. Ultimately, all our sin was what put Christ on the cross so freely we receive the gift of grace so that freely you can give. You cannot give what you do not have.
“..but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Our nature is to complain in these times of testings. Rather than seeing it as God’s love to shield us from further harming ourselves without the the refining process we see it as his inflicted punishment upon us.
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
The wilderness and times of suffering create humility and our dependency upon God, no amount of teaching or knowledge can prepare an experiential dying of the self in order to truly surrender to the will of the Father. It is in sweet surrender where our dreams will be restored and visions refreshed. It will not be from looking through rose coloured lenses distorted by brokenness but from being set apart and sanctified for His purposes with a fresh godly perspective. We must trade in the old man for our new life and freedom in Christ. Not resurrecting the so-called “zombies” of our old nature. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3-4
In a world where “Time is money”, meaning that the more time spent equals the more rewards lost.. the longer the time it takes to refine a saint’s character equals greater the purpose and more value in rewards to come. The ministry the Lord has for you cannot reach it’s fullest potential until that inner work has taken place. Like a fine wine it takes time to refine. The wilderness unravels all that we are and everything that we are not but we have a decision to allow Christ to show us that He is everything we hope to be and everything we have ever needed.
Even though we live in a fallen world, we can be confident in battle when the war is already won.. Jesus made sure of that. But until then let’s remind ourselves that we can be more than conquerors in the process with the sureness of the victory that lies ahead. “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12