We live by faith, not by sight. [2 Co 5:7]
When suffering comes to our lives in its many and varied forms, we naturally respond by resisting it, not yielding to it. We pray to God again and again to remove it from our lives, but He doesn’t do this. When the suffering goes on and on week after week, month after month, and sometimes, even year after year, that’s when we find our faith in God being stretched to its borders.
Taking full advantage of the confused and discouraged state we find ourselves in during times of suffering, Satan moves in for the kill and plants poisonous seeds in our minds regarding God’s refusal to deliver us. God doesn’t love us. God doesn’t care. God doesn’t exist. There must be unconfessed sin in our lives and God is punishing us.
I’ve been going through a “dark night of the soul” for almost three years now. Not three days, weeks, or months…..but years! I can honestly say that in all of the years that I have walked with Christ, I have never experienced anything like the agony of not being able to feel God in my life anymore. I used to feel His presence all of the time. But three years ago, I was led into a wilderness and cast into some sort of dark abyss, where I haven’t “seen or heard” from my Beloved ever since. For three years I’ve pleaded with God to deliver me from this, but in vain. The “dark night of my soul” continues to go on, with no merciful end in sight.
When we suffer, we want out. We kick back. We don’t want it in our lives. We want God to know that we are miserably uncomfortable and that we’ve had enough. But comfort isn’t God’s chief concern in our lives – producing Christ-like character within us is. Whether we want to accept this truth or not, our soul is refined in the crucible of trials. Suffering produces much good in our lives when we yield to it and allow God to work in our lives through it.
The Lord wants to teach us how to walk by faith, not by sight, and certainly not by how we feel. I don’t know much about flying, but I do know that pilots are able to fly planes through clouds, darkness, and storms because they have a very large number of instruments inside the cockpit that tell them everything they need to know even though they can’t see anything in front of them. Flying like this, which is called instrument flight, I once read that a well-trained pilot can fly even if the windows of the aircraft are painted over!
Likewise, we also find ourselves going through clouds, darkness, and storms in our lives – times of suffering - when we can’t see God, feel God, or hear God. But God has given us the instrument of His written Word to guide us in our journey. It teaches us how to walk, live, and conduct ourselves even though we can’t see Him at work in our lives and don’t even know where He is.
If you are going through a time of suffering in your life, it is not because God has abandoned you. Rather, it is proof that He is very much at work in your life, for you are being pruned for greater fruitfulness. Keep praying. Keep reading the Word. Keep going to church. Keep serving others in love using the gifts and many graces you’ve been given. Keep doing these things in spite of the trials you are enduring until your Heavenly Father takes you to “the other side of through.”
When you have learned how to “fly” like this, beloved…
… you have learned what it means to live by faith.
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