Trusting God When the Days are Hard and the Road is Long (written by Emily Walls)
As I sat outside in the sunshine today, I noticed a little sparkling, glimmering butterfly that Isaiah, my now seven-year-old, had used to artfully decorate our yard last week. He went crazy putting out butterflies and paper windmills in every single plant we own. It kind of looks like a carnival outside now, but I give him credit…our yard needed some major help, and this day I needed this little symbol of God’s goodness in my life after what has been a really hard several months for me.
Many people may not know I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease two years ago called ulcerative colitis. It is a disease where your immune system causes ulcers to line the inside of your digestive tract, resulting in daily viral symptoms and blood loss. Food becomes the enemy, because anything you eat makes you sick no matter how healthy it may be. It is truly a debilitating disease physically and mentally. In three weeks, I lost a pound or more per day as I was unable to retain any sort of food or nutrition, but it is pretty astonishing how God can use these times to draw you to him. Over the years anxiety and fear have gripped my life in a variety of ways, but in light of my current health situation, God is teaching me a few very basic, simple truths I hope may be of some comfort to you in your daily struggles
-Satan comes to destroy, but Jesus comes to give abundant life.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
When we face seemingly insurmountable trials it may seem that God is not for us. In fact, much of my life has been spent in fear of God and what sort of suffering He is going to inflict upon my life. Part of this is because, I know the Lord uses suffering as refinement – and I fear it. But this verse says quite the opposite…Jesus came to give us abundant life. Satan is the destroyer.
Believing that God is sovereign, means we believe everything goes through his hands. He allows suffering in our lives…but why? To give us abundant life. Through this trial, I have learned something about God that I’ve been told my whole life:
- that God loves us
- that God is for us
- that God wants all of us…not just part.
– Jesus wants us to abide in Him.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” –John 15:4
Jesus wants us to abide in him. Daily we are distracted with work, family, sports, health, social media. Satan uses good things in life to tear us from our Father. This is why we must abide in Christ. God often uses struggle to refocus us on what matters…he will not let us fall beyond his grasp, and he will use whatever means he needs to draw us back to him.
I recently discovered this excerpt from Desiringgod.org by Jon Bloom, and feel it truly conveys the seriousness of abiding in Christ:
When Jesus issued his command that we abide in him, he wasn’t giving us a lofty ideal to shoot for, like an inspirational poster phrase. Nor did he mean it as an option for more serious Christians who want the “deeper life.” He meant we would only survive if we abide. Like physical nutrition, good spiritual nutrition is a matter of life or death. That’s why Jesus went on to say in the next verse,
“If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” (John 15:6)
These are serious words. Jesus was just hours away from crucifixion. Everything was about to change radically for his disciples. Jesus was going to die, then rise again, then leave them and ascend to the Father, and then send his Holy Spirit to help them carry on his mission (John 16:4–15). They had learned to depend on him for everything. Now they would have to learn to depend on him for everything without him being physically present.
Their very survival would depend on abiding in him (John 15:4), and by that he meant living (remembering, believing, loving, and banking everything on) his words more than their natural perceptions (John 15:7), just as they had believed in him when he was physically with them. They would have to walk by faith and not by sight in ways that would look foolish and weak to the world (2 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Corinthians 1:18–25).
Simply put, without abiding in Christ, we cannot and will not survive.
– Jesus will not abandon us.
“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” – Psalms 16:6-11
When I was growing up, my Mamaw was one of the greatest spiritual mentors in my life. If there is one thing she repeated to me over the years, it was, “Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.” She said this to me so many times it’s seared into my memory. What an amazing promise. Jesus will never forsake us – we are victors not victims. We are more than conquerors in Christ, and all we must do is simply look back to the cross where Jesus took on the ultimate form of suffering – being nailed to the cross
…so that we may have abundant life,
…so that we may abide in him,
…and so that we may know he will never abandon us, even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Everyday as I face new challenges, new trials, and new journeys on the road ahead, I’m reminded of that little sparkling butterfly in the sunshine – a symbol of metamorphosis, a shining picture of God’s underserving, merciful grace in our lives, even when the days are hard and the road is long – he promises each one of us abundant life in him.