I don’t know your story or what life has thrown at you this past year. I don’t know how many times you wanted to give up or even how many times you had to fight to keep going. But I know that due to living in a fallen world, we all go through hard moments, days, and years. This year for my family has not been the easiest. We’ve had a couple medical emergencies, one that landed us in the PICU with our baby the week before Christmas. There seems to have been a lot of spiritual warfare and things that should have been simple have been hard. We’re tired but hopeful that a new year is coming. Maybe you feel the same way. I wanted to write a letter to you today to just encourage you. I don’t know exactly what is weighing you down at the moment, but I do know what the Bible says and I know how it has impacted me. So I pray it also impacts you.
Please know that God does not cause evil or bad things.
I’ve wrestled with this, if I’m completely honest. Well, I guess I know that God doesn’t cause the bad things that happen to people, but I wonder why He doesn’t prevent them. Couldn’t He stop that baby from dying or heal that chronic illness? The answer is, yes. But we all know that He doesn’t always. So why not? I will touch on one reason in the next point, but another reason is that God is using us to fix and redeem this broken world. Our pain and suffering can lead us to action to be the hands and feet of Jesus. He doesn’t cause the evil, but yes, He allows it. And oftentimes, He uses trials and hard seasons to prune us and make us more like Christ.
Phylicia Masonheimer wrote all about evil and suffering and where God is in the midst of them in her Advent series this year. It was amazing and so timely. Here is a blog post that kind of summarizes the series that I think will really encourage you. Please read it; she can fit more details about this point in her blog post than I can in this more general one.
God wants to be your Father in the tough times.
“Why does everything have to be so hard?” I don’t know how many times I have uttered those words this year, mostly to my husband. I’ll admit, it was normally over trivial circumstances, but those small things add up. The other day, my husband read an excerpt to me from a John Eldredge book about that very question. John realized that God was wanting to be a Father to Him in those hard moments. He wasn’t absent or far – He wanted to be near, to comfort and hold him.
And friend, that is the same thing God wants for you. He wants to be your Father and to comfort you when you are struggling. He wants your relationship to become even more intimate and close than it already is, and a lot of times it takes suffering to do that. One day this world will be made new and it won’t take suffering to draw closer, but for now, let’s lean into God as our Father even in our pain.
When your heart is overwhelmed, run to the Rock that is higher than You.
I get overwhelmed very easily. Just ask my husband. So Psalm 61:2 is a verse that I often have to quote to myself, to remind myself to run to God instead of giving into the overwhelm. I pray that you will run to Jesus when it all feels too much and the last thing you want to do is keep going. He is faithful and will take that overwhelm if you let Him.
God is so near in the wilderness.
I’ve been doing Phylicia Masonheimer’s Revelation study over the past year or so (I’m hoping to finish soon haha). A couple of months ago, I was in chapter 12 of Revelation where it talks about how the woman who gave birth (Israel, or some say Israel and the Church collectively) goes to the wilderness to flee the dragon (Satan). The study goes into a discussion about other people in the Bible who fled to the wilderness. Some examples are Israel escaping Egypt and Elijah escaping Jezebel.
In all of these instances, God meets them there and provides for their needs. He also prepares them for the next part of their story.
I think it is so beautiful that God meets us in the wilderness. When everything feels barren and silent, He shows up and provides Himself, as well as our needs. He doesn’t leave us alone to figure it out, but He remains close.
Are we allowing Him to draw close to our hearts, provide for us, and prepare us for the next thing that He has for us? Or are we grumbling and complaining, as the Israelites did that made them have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years?
He uses the wilderness to sanctify us and draw us closer to Himself, which is honestly a gift when we choose to see it that way.
He will give you rest.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus promises to give us rest from our burdens, but why don’t we take Him up on that promise? Maybe we don’t know how? That’s probably the excuse I would give. I encourage you to pray and ask God what it looks like to take His yoke upon you and find rest for your soul. But I also want to say this: so many times the burdens that we carry aren’t even things that we should be carrying. Jesus commands us not to be anxious (Philippians 4:6-7), so if we are carrying anxiety around, then that is a self-inflicted burden that is not a part of Jesus’ yoke. As David Guzik says, “The yoke of Jesus has nothing to do with worries that are forbidden to us.” and “The yoke of Jesus does not include the burdens we choose to add to it.”
Taking His yoke upon us is essentially following His commands and doing things His way. Jesus wants to carry our burdens with us. We can’t rebel against His commands or doubt what His Word says. We follow Him and allow Him to help us carry the burdens that are weighing heavy on our hearts or bodies.
When you’re struggling, take Jesus’ yoke upon you. It is easy and light. Do things His way and rest in Him. Read the Gospels and learn from Jesus’ life. It’s okay to hurt or grieve, but let it lead you to Jesus and action for Him.
I pray this letter or post was an encouragement to you. It honestly encouraged me to write it. Let me know in the comments how I can pray for you. And I hope you have a blessed New Year and allow Jesus to carry you through.
In this with you,