In a new year, we look to start over, to start fresh in many different ways. We look to fitness, healthier eater, new podcasts and getting rid of old clutter, toxic contacts and outdated clothing to help us start anew. Regardless of what last year may have looked like, a sense of hope is snuggled into the early days of January each year as the calendar turns. Yet, sometimes last year has a way of following us into the new year; and what was hoped to be a fresh start, has really only been a continuation of the same. For such situations, how does one find renewal along the journey? Where does one drink to taste refreshment amidst the toil? To answer these questions we must dive way below the surface of culture and into the Word of God.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NASB)
The Bible assures us that if we truly want to experience a blessed life, regardless of the surrounding factors, we need to trust in the LORD. In doing so, we will gasp firm hold of success even amidst difficult or seemingly impossible circumstances due to the fact that the LORD is working on our behalf. The LORD never promised us a trouble free existence, but rather one marked with radical redemption, unabashed hope and unwavering deliverance. The methods of the LORD’s choosing for bringing about such ends within our lives may not always look the way we think they should, but we have to go back to the basics when enduring a difficult time.
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5 (HCSB)
There are times when we just want to get to the proverbial “amen” of a situation, rather than needing to pray and wait upon the LORD’s timing. When the present seems too much to endure under and we find ourselves asking if there is a way to fast forward to the “good part”, hit your knees in prayer. Ladies, as bizarre as it may sound, if we are not willing to wait patiently on the LORD’s perfect timing—meaning to endure extreme discomfort at times while being obedient to the LORD, we miss out on major blessings. How in the world could this be?
“I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.” Isaiah 43:2 (HCSB)
You see, the Bible is packed full of examples of consuming fire and colossal waters being used for deliverance. One powerful example is that of the three Hebrew young men, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah who were captured by the Babylonians. These men were prisoners of war and had their names changed by a Babylonian official in hopes of making them all forget the God they served and obeyed (Daniel 1:7). Each of these Hebrew names holds a powerful statement about the God of Israel. But, the famous account of these three men being thrown into the consuming fire is best known by their captured names, which reflected praise to the false gods the young men would not honor. In their unwillingness to bow down and worship a golden stature that the king of Babylon had created, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were then brought before the king himself to face consequences for sheer defiance to the Babylonian decree. Yet, amidst hardship and attempted brainwashing, these young men would not bend or break, even as death was the consequence for staying true to the God they loved and served. Their powerful and sincere response to king Nebuchadnezzar is an encouragement to anyone going through a trying time where great adversaries seem to surround you on all sides.
“If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” Daniel 3:17-18 (HCSB)
This flew all over the king, who then quickly ordered for the three young Hebrew men to be thrown into the blazing fire. After Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego had been tied up with their hats and coats still on them, due to the swiftness of the king’s wrath against them, they were taken to the furnace in haste, which had been heated seven times hotter than normal due to the king’s vengeance against the young men’s response. And although those who escorted the three young men into the furnace felt death, due to the fire’s flames, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego experienced something quiet different. After the three had fallen into the furnace, the king was astounded at what his eyes beheld next (Daniel 3:15-23)!
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm. He said to his advisers, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound, into the fire?”” Yes, of course, Your Majesty,” they replied to the king. He exclaimed, “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods. Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and called: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God–come out!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire.” Daniel 3:24-26 (HCSB)
In difficult times, we must remember to go back to the basics. God is all good. God is all loving. God is all knowing. God works things out for our good and His glory, in His infinite and divine timing. We can trust Him to walk us through the heated moments and circumstances that seem as if they may kill us. If we want to truly grasp hold of blessings from God, then we must be bull-headed about where our trust lies and where our hope is found. We must not only confess with our mouths, but also anchor to our hearts the truths of God’s Word; for both blessing and deliverance are found in the same source—that only being Jesus Christ the LORD.
“Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.” Daniel 3:28 (NASB)
As we have stepped into a new year, breathe deep in the reality that the LORD Jesus Christ, desires to bring about your deliverance, in just the perfect way. Ladies, if we have trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and have asked for Him to take the lead in our lives, then it is up to us to find opportunities to praise Him amidst the chaos. If we believe the Bible is true, then it is our great pleasure to declare, with boldness, that there is no unrighteousness in the LORD for those who trust in His mighty name (Psalm 92:12-15). It’s a new year, Ladies. What will your response to difficulty be?