...Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:1-3, ESV).
Sometimes other people can make our lives hard. Sometimes we just want to run. Or hide. Growing up in a military family, we had the routine of moving on, every few years. It was hard to uproot and go…for some…but not for me. I thought each new place had the possibility of being better than the last! In fact, when times got hard at school, or with friends, I would just wish and wish that we were moving already, on to “the next place”.
This way of thinking became my escape plan. When people stepped on me, manipulated me, or intimidated me…I would think, I am done with them. In my mind, I would put them in the untrustworthy, or mean, or harsh category. In my mind, I would move on. I didn’t know how to face the pain.
Have you been rejected? Or maybe you’re hurt because you’ve been let down, or betrayed? A few years ago, I was co-leading a Bible study. When the two of us in leadership disagreed on how to choose the next book, Christian women began to look a lot like the world. As this process unfolded, I found myself under direct attack; and all that the rest of the group did was sit there and stare, eyes wide in astonishment at the spectacle. I was maligned and verbally browbeaten. I guess you could say I was bullied. At Church. It was excruciating and terribly lonely.
I would have run away, literally! I had learned how to do that “shaking the dust off my feet” thing really, really well (Luke 9:5). But as I prayed, the Lord seemed to be telling me to stay in the group and to accept this treatment in silence. At home, I grieved and cried and prayed to Him. And I felt the Lord telling me to stay there, more, in that hard place. I thought: Lord, You know I can’t do this…You know this hits me, right in my wounded heart…how could You ask me to stay in such a hard place? But He still did not release me. Emotionally, I curled up in the fetal position. But I went to class and sat in church with her, sometimes with tears streaming down my face. And I learned how to stay.
I have had other painful lessons like this…some with people closer to me, who have hurt me much more deeply. And I have learned how to stay. It has taught me how God stays. Emotionally difficult times are not comparable to physical torture, but they are painful and the lessons do stick.
The story of Shadrach, MeShech and Abednego, from Daniel 3 has always been special to me. These three young men found themselves in quite a bit of trouble because they would not bow their knee before an idol; they were sentenced to be burned alive.
- Just before they were cast into the furnace, the young men told the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Dan 3:17-18). Their obedience to God was unconditional and they didn’t flinch.
- They entered the fire on their own, but they did not endure it alone. Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers,“Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods” (Dan 3:24-25). Here is a promise for us ‘“ if God’s plan for us includes walking into the fire, we will not be alone.
- If we stand with Him, we will be protected. When they came out of the furnace, everyone was amazed. The fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them (Dan 3:27).
There is hope for all of us in this Truth: God has sought us out, to be in relationship with us. So when we find ourselves walking into the fire, it is good to remember that He is faithful, He stays. In faithfulness, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be with us, saying, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). God Himself is with us, so we can take comfort in His presence, and we can stay in hard places.
Are you in a hard place today? Please add a comment here, so I can pray for you. Or can you share in the comments about a time when you felt God’s presence during a hard time? It would be a great encouragement to hear about that!
Britta ~ I am justAgirl…just like you!