Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
Have you ever watched a goldsmith as he heated a small ingot over a fire, then took his mallet and deftly struck blows that quickly changed the shape of the ingot into something that only he could see in his mind’s eye? I’ve watched that happen and noticed that the craftsman didn’t follow a book or a blueprint. He just knew what he wanted to do and also knew that if he continued the blows of his mallet, he would destroy the artistry that he was producing.
I’ve been thinking recently of a letter which I value, which came from a dear brother who was held in captivity by the FARC guerillas of Colombia for almost three years. His life was interrupted. His future was on hold, and his hope for deliverance grew dimmer month by month and, then, year by year.
Looking back over that time of discouragement and despair he said that God was doing something on the inside which He wanted his captors to see on the outside.
What’s good about depression? Not much, if you are the one who feels like you are under the giant treadmill that is grinding the juice out of the grapes. Yet when you are walking through the valley, if you can only see light at the other end, you can keep plodding on, knowing that nothing is forever.
The fact is that God often teaches his children some of the most valuable lessons we ever learn through difficulty and affliction (and that includes discouragement and depression). Roses never smell better than when their fragrance is released through crushing. And there is no perfume without the crushing. There can be no bread without the crushing of the grain. It’s always been that way. Isaiah observed, “Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it, his horses do not grind it” (Isaiah 28:28).
He uses a picture—horses pulling a threshing cart, but it is the wheels of the cart which grind the grain. Frankly, it helps me to know that God knows how much I can handle, and though we may differ on that, at times, I know He is always right. He knows. He cares. And He will eventually say, “Enough!”
When you feel you are still in the fire, say,
- God knows better than I do when enough is enough.
- The fact that I am undergoing a trial, a dark period in my life, doesn’t mean for a moment that God has forsaken me. He not only brought me to this point, but He will walk with me through the valley and take me up on the other side.
- I will tell my doubts and fears where to get off and refuse to believe what I know to be untrue. With Paul I will affirm that even if everyone (my thoughts included) are liars, God is true!
- I will search the Scriptures and hold on to the promises of God, knowing that He is a gentleman and will keep His word.
- I will strive not to be impatient, believing that God will give me deliverance in His time. I’ll also look for parallels between what I’m going through and Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in the hostile environment of Babylon.
- I will not throw away my confidence in God.
- And though He slay me, with Job I will trust Him.
If you could only see the whole which God sees, your valleys would never be so dark nor your days so long. That’s where the element of faith comes into the picture. Trust Him, friend. Nothing is forever.
Resource reading: Lamentations 3.