Do you ever wish the journey of your life was easier? When we go through seasons that are challenging, I think we can have a tendency to wonder if God is punishing us when really, He’s just transforming us. I don’t know about you, but I have many times wished the process of transformation wasn’t a process but instead, a moment. I want the hope and faith Paul talks about in Romans 5:3-4 without the suffering and the perseverance. Yet, we all know that in nearly all cases, the suffering and need for faith now allows us to go through seasons in the future that without the history, we would never be able to keep going through. Challenges in your journey today sets you up for deeper faith in God tomorrow.
It’s clear to me that we all need to study Abraham and his faith just based on how much of Hebrews 11 is based on his journey with God. In Hebrews 11:9 we see how Abraham held fast to his faith and on the promise of God during as he an his family became nomads on their way to their promised land. What I know to be true about God is that He is always able to get us where we need to go, we just need to live by faith. Our faith starts to waver when our vision for how our lives should go is different then the way God is actually moving us.
Let me share a quick story about my journey and how my plan and God’s plan were different. I started drinking alcohol when I was around 13 years old. As you can imagine, it quickly became a go-to for me when life was tough so by the time I hit adulthood, it was an unhealthy “safety” net. I had learned really early in life how to hide it and handle it but in reality, the addiction new how to keep hidden and keep in control. My mom, who was a central figure in my life, died suddenly and I had no coping mechanism to handle the pain and anger so I drank more. The addiction again kicked into stealth mode and I kept it hidden from my close friends and family. I begged God over and over to just heal me, just release me from the addiction and every time He said no. See, we both knew that He could absolutely end the pain and release the addiction, but He knew I would just go back to it the next time I had a challenge. I wouldn’t grow in faith, I would grow in dysfunction.
In April of 2010, God added a massive twist to my journey and I was arrested on a suspicion of a DUI. I was devastated and even more angry at God. I couldn’t believe that He would let this happen when all along He could have just released me! Then a few months later, I had a massive panic attack that landed me in the ER. After some tests on my heart, the doctor told me that there was a small space that had stopped being able to beat and it was causing issues. She told me that if I didn’t quit drinking, my heart would quit working. Again I begged God to release me and move me to a better place and He wouldn’t. He wanted my life, I just wanted a quick fix. Finally, I gave in, gave up and gave it all to God. He swooped in like a rushing wind, released me from addiction, got me on a path to healing and I’ve never been the same. I held on to the promise that God spoke over me through Isaiah 54 and He brought me where He wanted me to be. I have moments still, 6 years later, that cause me want to drink and yet, I continue to hang on tight to God and am able to say that I have never given in to the temptation.
So, what does that all have to do with Abraham? The journey. You have to get to a point where you trust the One directing your steps so that when the journey seems long, hard and maybe even useless, you can live by faith and trust He is working out His promise over you. Abraham had received a promise from God in Genesis 12:1-3. God promised to give him a land of his own, to make him a great nation, to make his name great, and to bless not only his life, but the lives of everyone who blessed him. This promise was what empowered Abraham to move out and leave his family. It was also what empowered him to keep moving when he and his clan lived in several places on their way to God’s promised land as nomads and strangers just passing through. I’m certain there were times that Abraham looked up to the stars and doubted or wondered if he was on the right path. But, he never turned around, he stayed focused on the One who called him out and the One who made the promise of more.
Does your journey feel hard or useless? Are you wondering what on earth God is doing and feeling like you can’t go on? Please don’t quit, don’t stop and don’t lose heart. God may have unexpected twists and turns in your journey and you need to believe they are necessary for your ability to live by faith. Think of all we would have missed out on if Abraham had given up. You may not understand why things are happening they way they are and that’s ok, just keep focused on Jesus. Your challenges today set up for deeper faith tomorrow.