Dessert and difficulty

Remember these words from Psalm 23? “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” and “You prepare a table for me in the midst of my enemies.”

This doesn’t sound like a great deal does it? Rod and staff? Those sound like weapons. We have to eat surrounded by enemies? This is a good thing?

These words let us know that following God isn’t about a life of ease and plenty. It is a life of work and hardship. But it’s also a life of being refined. We are being improved through the difficulties that God gives us. They aren’t tests or punishments. They are how God shapes us and molds us into being better people. This way when it comes time for the separation of the wheat and the chaff, we will be the wheat. God is refining us into gold.

God chooses us, but then we have to choose God. And when we choose God we’re choosing this life of being shaped by God. When the psalmist tells us “You prepare a table for me in the midst of my enemies”, it means that in the middle of a bad situation you will flourish and be well provided for. But you have to be in a bad situation. It doesn’t mean that you get the feast without the fight. You don’t get the desert without the difficulty.

Know that whenever you’re in a bad situation, one that feels impossible, know that God is with you and that God is cheering you on. God wants you to rise above it and get stronger because of that bad situation, not in spite of it. God is using it to strengthen you in the same way that anyone who wants to get stronger muscles has to pick up heavier and heavier weights.

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Lessons and tables

I’m tired of all these lessons. I’m tired of all this hard stuff. Why do all these lessons have to be hard? And so often? This must be graduate level work here.

If we are supposed to “love our enemies”, to be kind to them, then isn’t that enabling them? Isn’t that telling them that their ugly, abusive, selfish nature is OK?

Why do I have to eat at a table in the “midst of mine enemies”? Anger and strife don’t make for a good appetite or digestion.

But then I think – if the Lord prepares a table for me in the midst of my enemies, perhaps it means that while I’m in the middle of an unpleasant thing my needs are taken care of. Instead of the food coming first and the enemies second – it is the other way around. So I need to open up and see the bad situations as a prequel to goodness coming.