When we go through hard times, it can feel like trouble is all we have known our entire lives. It may even feel like it will never end. I remember when my late wife was diagnosed with cancer. The shock and horror that befell us as a family was inconceivable and unimaginable. She was sick for a period of twenty months, before the Lord called her home. Those twenty months felt like an eternity. Even within those 'never-ending' months, there were moments of joy and delight with some precious memories. I remember, shortly before she died, she said to me that something had to turn soon. She told me that either the Lord would heal her shortly, or He would come and fetch her soon. Moments after her passing, as I stood around her bed with my daughters, my one daughter spoke up and said: 'Dad, its over! The battle with cancer is finished!' I looked up into her eyes and realised that it was. In one moment, what felt like an eternal battle, ended. It did not end in the way we had hoped, but it had ended and a new season had begun. In that new season we would find new joy, new hope, and new faith.
Psalm 50:15 'Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honour Me.'
Every hardship, every trial, every battle, has its own expiry date.
THE JOURNEY THROUGH HARD TIMES
One of the things that many good people hope for is what I would like to call 'instant relief'. After all, the Bible tells us to call on the Lord and He will deliver us. I have discovered that moving from the valley to the mountain top, is not instantaneous, but it is a journey. We must not camp, or set up house, in the valley of hard times, but we must move through it.
Isaiah 43:2 'When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.'
Look at the words in this verse: 'go through deep waters', 'go through rivers of difficulty', and 'walk through the fire'. I suppose we would all like an escape route. A quick exit and a short cut, but the value lies in the journey. As a young man I did a bit of hiking. I enjoyed these moments with some good friends. One day we hiked the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. It was a gruelling five-day hike through some very tough terrain. Once you were dropped off at the start, and had descended into the canyon, there was no way back. At the start of day two there was one escape route. It was a monumental task to make your way out that way, but it could be done and then you would find yourself in the middle of a desert, but you could walk the 80km's back on the isolated road. But the purpose of the hike was not to escape, but to make the journey. As we walked, we faced huge boulders, fine sand, extreme heat, cold nights, little water, and blisters. I asked myself over and over again why I was doing this voluntarily. But at the end of day five, we arrived back, triumphant, happy and with lots to talk about and many stories to tell our friends and family. The hard time had been a journey, by somehow, we were better off for it!
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