Monday, November 4, 2013

Comfort After Temptation

I am so often amazed by the graciousness of the God I serve.

My recent Bible study prompted reflection on the fact that God comforts His people after times of testing and trials.

Jesus Christ was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by Satan for 40 days. It was intense. Fasting for 40 days. Wild animals stalking. Then boom! 3 successive tests, one on top of the other. Good things waved in front of His eyes. Tempting prospects. Tempted to short circuit God's plan and timing. But, Christ resisted and triumphed over these temptations through the use of Scripture.

Then, God sent the angels to comfort Jesus after His intense period of temptation. I picture angels with food and water and encouragement. Everything the trial was not.

Grace...undeserved, unearned favor and kindness.

Have you ever been in a season of troubles and trials when you can’t see the end? When one thing after another, after another keeps hitting you? When you feel like you can’t take one more thing? One more hint of bad news or trouble? When you are at the end of you rope, barely hanging on?

Just at that moment, have you ever had the trials ease?

I have, many times over.

I said a couple weeks ago that God knows perfectly what we can handle. But, even more than that, God doesn't only give us what we can handle. He gives us a load more, to force us to depend on Him and His strength and grace.

From the spring of 2012 to about May of this year, for over a year, Mr. Hippie and I went through one intense trial after another. Trials in ministry. Trials in finance. Trials in relationships. Trials of unexpectedly losing a loved one.

About last December, I was like, “God, I can’t take anymore.”

Then we went through January, February and March, with trials continuing to come thick and fast.

In April, we ended up stepping out of over 90% of our life and ministry commitments. We pared down. We maximized our escape route.

We were exhausted, discouraged, depressed and overwhelmed. We hunkered down and sought God’s face. We retreated from everything to clearly see what God was leading us to do and be.

Gradually (no neon signs or anything), we began to see God’s hand of direction in our lives. We saw clear evidences of God’s care and comfort in our lives.

Our business hit a prosperous season and we have more than recovered all our losses.

We renewed friendships and built totally new friendships, and felt God's comfort through the words and actions of His people.

We had a relaxing summer. No big plans. Just life. It was exactly what we needed.

We saw God's clear leading about new ministries we are to take up. Doors that had been closed opened. New burdens, new direction.

We have experienced the blessing of family-both sides. Good fellowship. Good times. Restoration and healing of some things that were broken. Totally a God thing.

These gracious acts of God are nothing new. They aren't unusual...they are completely in character for God.

I, for one, am truly grateful.