“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 ESV
I received a text this morning from a family member who felt down, depressed, and discouraged. My husband and I have been praying for this person for a while now and it is interesting to see them come to us for prayer because they know that “God” is part of our everyday lives and practices. They’ve spent enough time with our family to know that we pray before meals, that we seek the Lord for important decisions, that we regularly read the Bible, and more. And when they have real, important needs and wants and heartaches they come to us for encouragement and most importantly prayer.
This family member is new in their faith and they have a lot of circumstances stacked against them. And as I encouraged through simple text messages it became clear in my mind that we are ALL up against insurmountable odds–often. We ALL at some point or another need God to come in and move on our behalf in situations that we cannot fix or change ourselves. Peter calls this part the suffering part. He doesn’t say “if;” the reality is that ALL of us will suffer. Our lives down here on earth are filled with joy mixed with grief, happiness mixed with pain, fullness of life mixed with death and decay. And through all of this hardship that life can hand us, we have God who is working on our behalf to restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us.
I know that I can really get mired down in how I FEEL God is not seemingly working in a situation at this time. Our feelings can lead us way off of the small and narrow path. I think my family member reaching out and asking for prayer from a safe place was an awesome response to the circumstances that could really get them down and keep them from living fully and from trusting God with their future. I told them that somehow God had a purpose for this waiting period. That His plans for their life is ALWAYS, ONLY, EVER good. Because that’s God–He is ALWAYS, ONLY, EVER GOOD! It is good for us to ask one another for prayer when we need it. It is good to encourage someone who is in a tight spot.
Many nights at my home you will find me reading aloud to the boys from one book or another. Currently we are reading “Little Pilgrim’s Progress” by Helen L. Taylor adapted from the John Bunyan classic. It has been a surprisingly great read for all of us. So many conversations have started because of this book. There was a passage from it that was thought provoking for me all week. Little Christian (as the main character is called in this book) has fallen into the Slough of Despond before getting very far in his journey. He’s worried about what others thought of him before leaving the City of Destruction. He’s mired down, discouraged, and unable to help himself out of this marsh. The good King (who is our good God in this book) sends Help (aptly named) to help him out of the slough and encourage him on his way. Listen to Help’s words:
“Never mind what people say. If you are one of the King’s pilgrims you are quite safe. You may find the road long and hard, but if you keep on bravely you will come to the city at last, and then you will forget your trouble, because you will be so glad to see the King.” (pg. 21 ch. 5)
We all need Help to come along side us and help us out of our personal pits of despair. God will absolutely bring that help to us–through one another! Our job is to bravely keep going even if the road is long and hard. And to help those “pilgrims” around us who we see need a leg up. Peter also says that all of this suffering we do will actually seem little when held in contrast to what is coming. I don’t think he’s making light of what any of us go through–I think he has amazing perspective that can only be gained through time with God in the Word and prayer. In short Peter’s acknowledging that this life is really hard and painful sometimes, but when it is all said and done, it will be finished because Jesus said so.
What an amazing God we serve! He is the finisher and perfecter of our faith. He is our restorer. He confirms our faith and salvation. He strengthens us to bravely press on. And He will establish every step we take toward our end goal. Eventually all of the pain this life has to offer will fade away and we will fully see the eternity before us. What a day!
Lord Jesus, thank you for your perspective. We know that you say our lives are like grass, here today and gone tomorrow with all of the good we do the flowers among it all. Help us to bloom well right where we are. Help us to encourage one another and ask for help when needs arise. Thank you for weaving our lives together in You. Amen