You know, it’s real easy to smile when everything’s going well with us. It’s easy to lift our hands and praise our God, and sing and rejoice. It’s easy to give when we have full pockets, and when we’re in good health. It’s easy to say “I will” when we are asked to give our time and energies when we have lots of it. We walk with a confident stride because we’re alright with the world and the world is alright around us.
But…what persona do we have when we walk through the valley, and some of us walk through the valley of the shadow of death. So what then, what do we do in these times? Do we stop smiling, do we stop giving, do we go into our ‘closets’ or take a sabbatical from life itself? It’s a real tough question, but you see, it’s a necessary question to answer in our walk with God.
Do you know why God was so proud of Job – not because he blessed God when He had – but God knew his heart and knew he would bless God when he didn’t have (Job 1: 20-22). The Apostle Paul went through so much hardship that he despaired sometimes (and that’s ok) but he never forsook his faith in God (2 Corinthians 11: 23-28, Acts 14: 19-20).
And my favorite character of integrity in the Bible – Joseph – despised by his brothers, sold into slavery, imprisoned and forgotten (by men). He had every reason to curse God and die, and he had every reason to refuse to interpret the dreams of the prisoners. I am certain that Joseph had moments of complete despair; but Joseph kept his faith in God, and in a moment (when God’s timing was right) God took this ‘slave’ and made him a master over all second to the King alone (Genesis 37 to 41).
You see it’s more important to God that you have a right attitude when all the chips are down, when the valley seems long and never ending. It doesn’t impress God that you praise Him when He’s done something for you, it touches His heart when you really feel like crying and giving up – but you stand up and raise your hands heavenward and lift your voice and in spite of everything that is going wrong around you begin to bless His name, lift Him up and worship Him from deep within your spirit, regardless of the circumstances around you.
Is it easy to do? No. Does it take great effort? Yes – because our human nature loves to complain. Sometimes praising God in the situation is the only weapon you’ve got at your disposal and God wants you to use it, not just because it’s a weapon, but because He is the Alpha and Omega and He is the one that has your best interests at heart and He wants you to trust in Him no matter what is happening around you.
God will never leave us alone in our moments of trials, grief and difficulties – He’s not that kind of God. He will stand by our sides and see us through. We never walk alone, God always walks with us. Not because I say so, but because His Word does:
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
Today I pray that your very spirit be renewed and invigorated by the Living Spirit of God, Amen.