There’s a theme to my bemoaning. Life is hard, and I want it to be easier. When I find myself in complex, trying, or emotionally draining situations, I pray without ceasing and circle back to the same realization each time – I want life to be easy. It’s simple.
LIFE IS HARD
Our difficulties lie to us. They tempt us to believe that if this one problem would disappear, everything would be wonderful. If I could just escape this difficult situation, or if this difficult person would change, or if God would just hurry up a process that is taking much too long, then…then all would be well.
But would it really?
Or is it actually well right in the center of the storm? Do I actually believe the songs I sing? That all is well with my soul? Or do I only believe all is well with my soul when life is ticking along the way I want?
WHERE DO I GO? WHAT DO I DO?
In Jeremiah 42, we read a story we can all relate to. A little backstory. Babylon had taken the Israelites into captivity. A remnant remained in Judah. The remnant asked the prophet, Jeremiah, to pray on their behalf and ask God where they should go and what they should do.
We’ve all been there. That place of asking God for direction. Confession: I often know exactly where I want to go and want to do, but I want to receive God’s approval on my plan.
The people even went so far as to tell Jeremiah they would obey whether it was pleasant or unpleasant. They would obey.
Ten days later Jeremiah returned with God’s answer – Stay.
“If you will indeed stay in this land, then I will rebuild and not demolish you, and I will plant and not uproot you, because I relent concerning the disaster that I have brought on you. Don’t be afraid of the king of Babylon whom you now fear. Don’t be afraid of him’ – this is the Lord’s declaration – ‘because I am with you to save you and deliver you from him. I will grant you compassion, and he will have compassion on you and allow you to return to your own soil. But if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land, so as not to obey the voice of the LORD your God, and if you say, ‘No, instead we’ll go to the land of Egypt where we will not see war or hear the sound of the ram’s horn or hunger for food, and we’ll live there,’ then hear the word of the LORD, remnant Judah!This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: If you are firmly resolved to go to Egypt and live there for a while, 16 then the sword you fear will overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine you are worried about will follow on your heels[b] there to Egypt, and you will die there. 17 All who resolve to go to Egypt to live there for a while will die by the sword, famine, and plague. They will have no one escape or survive from the disaster I will bring on them.’ Jeremiah 42:10-17
Wow! It’s as if God was saying, “Listen, I know you are scared. I know you don’t want war and hunger. I don’t want this for you. But obey and trust me. Stay here. If you run away, you will find what you are running from.”
How often have I found myself running from my hard only to discover that hard intensified?
Our natural inclination is to flee discomfort and pain. It hurts. We are scared and can’t see the future and how it will all shake out. We look back and think it’s better where we came from. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as we thought. We should go back.
Don’t go back to your Egypt.
God wanted His people in Judah to trust Him. He wanted them to experience His protection, provision, and comfort. But their fear clouded their vision.
Fear is a great liar. It tells us to run. Run fast to something easier. Yet it’s a lie. There is no “easy” in this life.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
It’s hard, but He’s here. He is with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. He draws near to those who draw near to Him.
Whatever hard you are standing in today, pray to Him. Let Him encourage you to fear not. Watch for His provision. The storm may not stop, but He will keep you standing and not let you drown.
It’s when we cling to Him that He develops our character and strengthens us.
Maybe today He’s telling you to resist the temptation to return to your “Egypt”, that place that beckons you to escape what’s hard. Instead maybe He’s telling you to stay right where He has you and let Him fight the battles on your behalf.