Distress as a sacred intention.
God is always present in our lives but we simply just miss Him. I’m sure you’ve experienced glimpses of Him but isn’t it true that we miss His presence in our lives more than we notice Him? He is always at work in our lives. He never leaves our lives unattended. Yet, we are so often dismayed by the circumstances of our lives and feel utterly hopeless. When I experience those moments of hopelessness- I, too, fail to realize that God is still near. We are so often caught up in the midst of it all- like a fallen leaf in the midst of the fiercest storm. And yet, the moments of pain, such as loneliness, inadequacy, and fear- are like bright stars which illuminate our lives. Without them, we would perish in utter darkness because the night inside our soul would overtake us. Nobody wants to experience distress but the soul that chooses to embrace the moments of hopelessness in life and looks for God’s imprint on them is the soul that draws near to God in ways others never do. Our soul is prone to decaying over time, losing more and more of its purity. Life’s hopeless moments expose the soul’s sinfulness but their aim goes deeper than just exposing- they are used by God in order to cleanse and purify. Our souls are in deep need of repentance but repentance doesn’t happen without suffering. God uses the agony of our pain as a means for us to repent. There is no real repentance without distress. How else can we stop from sinning unless we get to taste the bitterness of our sin? It breaks my heart to see that we live in a time when the notion of repentance is becoming more and more faded. We no longer find it necessary to repent, as if God is somehow becoming less hurt by sin as time goes by. God never changes and neither do His standards. That’s not something that should make Him less attractive to us but all the more attractive because sin leads to death and He loves us enough to want us to stop from sinning, or not die. The death sin leads to is a death of vitality, purpose, and contentment; not just for this life but also for the life to come- a sure and never-ending existence. Sin is serious to God and it should be serious to us. The Spirit of God so clearly yet gently convicts us of sin but the more we refuse to receive His guidance, the more insensitive we become towards sin. We shouldn’t let sin overtake our lives and the only way to do that is by living in the continuous breath of the Spirit, allowing God to constantly make us aware of sin and to give us the strength necessary to overcome it. It’s so beautiful when there is nothing separating us from God! The peace that comes from living in purity of heart is beyond words!!! Many of us experienced this peace when we first received Christ but why do we lose the sense of this peace as we progress in our relationship with God? It’s because we fall in love with sin and forget God. Nothing pushes us farther and farther away from God like sin does. When sin becomes a habitual thing in our lives- sin becomes our idol instead of God. God is so jealous for us and nothing causes Him to turn away from us like idols do. God and idols can never coexist. God wants our hearts entirely, He never takes residence inside a heart that is less than a hundred percent His. God can only be truly known by a heart that is truly His and a heart can only become His through repentance. Repentance, like falling in love with idols- is a process that involves letting go of our idols and falling in love with God. Repentance means more than being aware that you’ve sinned; it means regretting your sin enough to choose not to sin anymore. And yet, so many of us live lives of complacency- instead of turning away from sin we are giving in to sin because we are no longer grieved by it. This is like living life in a constant spiritual dusk because we are never really able to see clearly. No wonder we can’t see God in our lives anymore! We need the power of God to free us from indifference towards sin! It starts by crying out to Him from our anguish and asking Him to change us. God might not answer the way you expect Him to, so don’t doubt Him when the distress seems to intensify. That’s Him purifying you. God’s chastisement is not pleasant at the time it takes place but it leads to life in the end. Yes, God is always present- even when we cannot trace His hand in our lives. Distress can actually be a doorway to freedom from sin if we choose to cry out to God instead of falling in defeat. He is so faithful to answer our cry! Don’t allow the distress in your life to cause you to lose your faith in God!! He allows distress because He wants us to seek Him with all of our heart. God won’t stop chasing us until He becomes our idol. Whatever it takes! Aren’t you thankful God will go that far for you to experience the fullness of a life truly lived for Him? Not a lot of Christians live their lives in love with God. Most of them are far more preoccupied with their idols instead of burning with love for their God. Yet, every now and again, there is that soul whose very heart beats for God. It is the soul that looks for God even in the midst of the greatest distress because of an awareness of God’s divine purpose of purifying the heart through it. Even when it seems like all you can see is sin and death, remember that God has a purpose and His purpose is never to abandon you but to give you life by purifying you from sin. The day is coming when He will turn our mourning into joy! How pure our souls will be!
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
-Isaiah 61:10 (ESV)