Can you think of a time when you were quite simply overwhelmed with events and circumstances in your life?
Relational breakdowns, stressful work situations and turbulent world events ‒ not to mention the spiraling effects of such things on our mental and physical health ‒ are all common scenarios in our limping world.
I would hazard to guess that if you’re not facing a stressful situation like this at this precise moment then you likely have in the very recent past or are very likely to in the near future.
Life is regularly stressful and, particularly as followers of Jesus engaged in a very aggressive spiritual conflict, this stress can be very difficult to navigate well. We can very easily become like Bilbo and the company of delusional dwarves, lost and aimlessly circling Mirkwood.
Often these “stresses” are either directly caused by the devil or, indirectly, used by him to the very same specific end: to cause the children of God to doubt the loving kindness of God.
Throughout all generations (but, perhaps, especially as the return of Christ draws nearer), there has always been a foul attempt of hell to undermine the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God.
How many brow-beaten, down-trodden stalwarts in the Bible can you think of? More often than not, just before they were used mightily by God, something massively significant happens to encourage them … just as they seem at rock bottom.
Where on Earth are the promises of your Father God? the devil whispers. We all know how that went with Gideon in Judges 6 ‒ a great passage for us to read to remind ourselves.
There is a truth that we can briefly look at now that I believe will offer us both comfort and guidance specifically for these times of disorientation and discouragement.
I’d like to sum this principle up with just two words: God knows.
In Romans 8:32, Paul’s logic expresses this principle like this:
He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?
Would it make any sense for God to sacrifice His only begotten Son ‒ for God so loved that world that He gave His only Son ‒ and then either not be aware of what we need or fail to meet those needs when they arrive?
Of course not!
Satan is working overtime to tempt the Church to believe that either Jesus is somehow late, indifferent or unable but Paul is asking us to consider the ridiculousness of the notion of God ever letting us down.
From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. (Acts 17: 26)
Common to Man
There’s another moment in the New Testament where Paul expresses this personal care and knowledge of our loving Father God.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13, the Holy Spirit communicates through Paul:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
He knows our collective struggles (He is marching history to a certain point by a certain time) and He knows our personal distresses (He knows every single tear). He loves us more than we can fully understand and He knows that peculiar point which is “too far” and “too much” for us.
Isn’t it an encouraging thought that God knows exactly how much you and I can handle?
When It Gets Worse
Not only is it true that God knows, there’s also another biblical principle that, as leaders, we should be anticipating in the lives of others as well as ourselves.
This wisdom is most clearly seen in Exodus at the very beginning of Moses’ deliverance of Israel from the oppression of Pharaoh.
Spend a few minutes reading Exodus Chapter 5.
Here we are, at the very outset of the narratives between Moses and Pharaoh, (Yahweh and Satan), and we see circumstances get worse for the Israelites before they get better ‒ decidedly worse, to be honest.
The Prophet Moses thunders the living, immanent words of God Almighty to the Egyptian Judas ‒ “Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness” ‒ whereupon Pharaoh responds aggressively and issues brand-new conditions for the people of God that are far harsher than they had been.
No straw was to be provided anymore for the Israelites who still had to furiously meet their quota of bricks (Exodus 5:6) or be ruthlessly punished.
What’s the point?
Well, it would have been very easy for Moses and the Israelites to have immediately given in to the oppression of Pharaoh, to have been intimidated and fearful as he made their lives harder. It would also have been easy for Moses and the Israelites to believe the same lie of the enemy ‒ that Yahweh isn’t loving or able.
And yet, this sudden deterioration in the circumstances was just the precursor to their deliverance. God told Moses to continue speaking and, eventually, we know that Pharaoh is humbled and the Israelites indeed set free to worship in the new tabernacle era of the wilderness.
Have you ever considered that the difficult circumstances in your life, that periodically lead you to feel like you’re not coping and that things are just too much, could be the very evidence that God is in the process of leading you towards significant change and something much better?
A deterioration in circumstance is not always a warning to back down and forget the promptings you have been discerning (and feeling excited by) but, often, quite the opposite.
Finally, as you prayerfully discern and declare that God knows, as you navigate your own Mirkwood, memorize this beautiful verse:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8)