“Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I suffered shipwreck. A night and a day I spent in the open sea. In my many journeys I have been in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the desert, dangers in the sea, dangers among false brothers, in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (2 Corinthians 11:25-27)
Life is a great journey, filled with ups and down, winding roads, and sometimes looping circles. We my become discouraged when we don’t succeed in what we set out to do and when we continually confront denials and letdowns. We may begin to question ourselves, even more, we may question God and His faithfulness toward us. It may be that we begin to ask the age-old question – “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the treacherous thrive?” (Jeremiah 12:1).
You or someone close to you may be experiencing some of these letdowns right now. You may be asking, “God, where are you and why are you not acting on my behalf?” This may not be to first time you’ve been in this situation; and it may not be the last. If you’ve experienced this before, you know the faithfulness of God because you have come out of it to be a witness. If this is your first time experiencing these trials, or if it seems you have been in this pattern for far too long, remember God’s promises to His children and keep in mind that “God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes his mind! Does He speak and then not do it, or promise and not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19). He continues to tell us to “Be still before Adonai and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret over one prospering in his way, over one carrying out wicked schemes” (Psalm 37:7).
Remember, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some consider slowness. Rather, He is being patient toward you” (2 Peter 3:9a). Hold fast to your faith and never take your eyes of the Lord. Testing will come as long as we are in this world but remember, “Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love Him” (James 1:2). Yes, this is much easier to say than to do but the one who tells us this is faithful to see us through. We too have a part to play in inheriting the promises of God. This is why it’s important that we examine ourselves each day and to rid ourselves of all that defiles us. As written in scripture, “Therefore, since we have these promises, loved ones, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of body and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
You may feel as though you are in a never ending bad situation but “God settles the lonely in a home. He leads prisoners out to prosperity” (Psalm 68:7). It may seem to you that you have nothing to offer, but remember, “A soul who blesses will prosper, and one who gives water will himself be satisfied” (Proverbs 11:25). If you are concerned with the prosperity of the wicked, remember, “Misfortune pursues sinners, but prosperity rewards the righteous” (Proverbs 13:21).
Regardless of your situation today, my prayer for you is that you will strengthen your faith in Messiah and that you will imitate Paul who, even through his litany of tribulations, could write, “I know what it is to live with humble means, and I know what it is to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment—both to be filled and to go hungry, to have abundance and to suffer need. I can do all thingsthrough Messiah who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).