“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
Words of encouragement, but how difficult to live by at times! When life and our circumstances seem unbearable, it can take tremendous effort to praise God not for the trial, but in the midst of the pain.
God is preparing me to go through a firestorm and probably the most frightening healing experience of my life, but He recently gave me a gentle reminder of why it’s necessary to lean into this process.
I have walked and jogged through a nearby park so many times over the past year, but this day as I ran by the stream I was startled by what I saw and came to a complete stop as God drew me a spiritual picture to illustrate where He was taking me.
At the bridge where I stood, there was murky, stagnant water below. No movement. No clarity. Just standing water, unlovely to the eye. The calmness ended abruptly, however, as it became a rushing stream. This is where all the action was! Clear water racing down, crashing gently up against the rocks, just to reach the next calm. The beauty of the water finding its way around the rocks that stood in the path to its destination of stillness mesmerized me.
I was struck by how true this is of our Christian journey. God gives us times of rest and peace and a chance to enjoy the still waters, but He loves us too much to leave us there to become stagnant and murky. His desire for us to become more like Christ requires us to experience the rushing streams, fighting against the rocks, flowing at a pace that sometimes seems out of control to get us to the next place where we can enjoy the still waters again. Like that rushing stream, sometimes it seems all we can do is go along for the ride and pray that God will hold us together as we crash into rocks and obstacles in our paths.
Rarely do we choose to become that rushing stream. It’s the suddenness of leaving still waters that startles us as we leave the comfort of calm for the pain that can accompany maneuvering around the jagged edges of the rocks in our way. But this is where the action is. This is where we really see God at work and the miraculous changes He seeks to bring about in us. No rushing streams would mean no growth or change and our Heavenly Father desires that we become mature in our faith. So often that comes through our trials and difficulties.
He promises to lead us beside still waters, so the calm will come again. But in the midst of the rushing streams of life, grab His hand and let God’s faithfulness be your buffer as you work your way around those rocks and jagged edges and God brings you, again, to a place of rest.