God has written our stories. We may not know how this chapter ends and the next one begins, but we trust that God knows exactly what He is doing in every scene of our lives. People aren’t always who they ought to be. Places aren’t always what we want them to be. Plot twists aren’t always what they seem to be. But God is writing a beautiful story for those who trust Jesus! We don’t know what comes with each new turn of the page, and it won’t always make sense to us, but it doesn’t have to. Because our faith is in the One who does know the happily-ever-after ending to our story. After all, He’s the One who wrote it.
Others need us to point them to where they can go for help in hardships. Others need to believe us because they see us going there ourselves. The people in our lives need to see us suffer well, handling hardships with hope because we have Jesus in our lives. They need to see and hear our joy-filled, hope-filled, peace-filled confidence in this: He will get us through every test, trial and tribulation until He gets us home. As we walk through seasons of suffering, let us testify to the faithfulness of Jesus in walking with us so others can know, that because grace is available, they never have to walk alone either.
Our hope is not in who sits in the Oval Office, but in Who sits on the throne in heaven. Our hope is not in who governs us on earth, but in Who reigns and rules over the entire universe. Our hope is not in what laws are passed, but in the One Who has written His law of love on our hearts. While politics, parties, programs and policies do have an impact upon our lives and our country, and we should take these things seriously, the optimism we have for everyday and eternal well-being does not rise and fall on one of us, but on Jesus, Who is God with us. This is where we pin our hope: Jesus governs our lives.
We were not made to be self-reliant, self-sustaining or self-sovereigns. God created us to be dependent upon His gracious care and provision, turning to Him and trusting in Him, moment by moment for what we need. Our wisdom and willpower are inadequate for handling life, but His is infinite, and it is readily available to those who trust in Jesus. Don’t try to make it on your own. You were never meant to. When there is a mile-high mountain or a mountain of little stuff piled up a mile high that is too big for you to climb, perhaps God put it there as a gracious and loving reminder for you to depend on Him.
Since trusting in Jesus is the basis for our hope of eternal life, how can we know that we really trust Him? The short answer is: we look for evidences that the trust we have in Him is changing us. Genuine saving belief never leaves you the same. We gradually become less like the world and more like Jesus as we follow Him in faith. Trusting Him leads to ongoing and loving… Repentance, because we believe what He offers is better than sin. Obedience, because we believe His ways are always good and right. Confidence, because we believe what He has promised us will happen. We believe. We change. That’s how we know.
Do you know what your failure is for? It has a purpose, and that purpose is to help you succeed. Not just so you’ll try harder next time. Not just so you’ll be wiser next time. Not just so you’ll do better next time. But rather so you will rely more fully on Jesus next time. His strength. His guidance. His way. His plan. His timing. His help. The right response to failure is faith, for every person who turns to and trusts in Jesus will win in the end. Remember this when you find yourself coming up short: Futility and frustration are intended to move you away from self-reliance to Savior-reliance. And that move is always for the better.
There is often a tension between belief and doubt when things become difficult. It would be plausible to lose hope and lose heart when facing things that are too much for us to handle if we were forced to handle them alone. But Jesus has promised to never leave us alone, always supplying the grace we need for the needs we face. The more we trust in Him, the more we will rely on Him during the unexpected, uncertain and unpleasant difficulties of this broken world. He will work it out for good as we work out His purposes for us. With faith all things are not made easy. With faith all things are made possible.
Dying ready is not about trying hard to do more and be better so God will accept you into heaven when this life is over. Instead, it’s about trusting in Jesus and the work He has finished on your behalf and, in response, finishing the work that Jesus has entrusted to you. We don’t work for our salvation; we work out our salvation. We don’t pay Him back. We love Him back. With our hope in Him, we journey homeward in loving obedience (though imperfectly executed) knowing that the death we once feared is actually the doorway to full and lasting joy with Him. Death is not the end; it is just the beginning.
No matter who you are. No matter what you’ve done. No matter how big your need. There is grace for you! God’s grace is sufficient for every situation, every location, every imperfection, and every opposition. It. Will. Never. Run. Out. Even though there are moments when your sin, your struggles and your situation may get the best of you, if you are trusting in Jesus, it is simply impossible for you to out-sin, out-run, out-last, out-need, or out-hope God’s grace. It is always there and always enough! You will never find yourself in a place where God has not already plastered, “My grace is sufficient for you.”
Remember this as you follow Jesus in faith: it’s not what happens to us that is of greatest importance, but rather the end result of what happens. Things often won’t go as we plan, things often won’t work out like we hope, and things often won’t be as simple or easy or comfy as we would like. But in the hands and plans of God, our struggles are not setbacks. They are stepping stones to the good result He has in mind. So… Don’t stop believing. Don’t stop proceeding. Something good is coming even if you don’t yet see it. Take heart! Things would look much better if we could see them not as they are, but as they will be.
You can talk yourself into just about anything. Other people will try to talk you into something. Only God will talk to you truthfully about everything. There are many voices that speak into our lives such as family and friends, news and social media, advertising and entertainment, and especially ourselves … but the loudest (most influential) should be God. We are being shaped by influences all around us which is why it is essential that each day we read God-breathed words in the Bible and listen to God-sent voices who speak His truth to us. When we listen to Him… He won’t just tickle our ears; He will delight our souls.