Yes, difficulty is a part of life. My heart grieves for those in Japan who are experiencing tremendously hard circumstances. Many have lost loved ones, homes, and basic necessities. Everything gone in a moment, and then the aftermath. Hunger. Thirst. Sorrow. Cold and miserable conditions. The fear of exposure to radiation. I see the pictures and hear the stories, and yet I can't even imagine the hardship. The destruction. The grief. The unbearable anxiety.
Like me, you may be feeling fortunate that your world is much more calm and in-order. Seeing others in such dire need makes my problems and petty concerns seem much smaller, and they are, and yet sometimes the things we're facing may as well be like the aftermath of an earthquake or a tsunami. Fighting for survival brings extreme emotional distress, and so does a child custody battle, the end of a significant relationship, the loss of a job, the betrayal of a friend, financial worries...the list goes on. I don't need to mention your specific circumstance, because you know what it is.
It's hard. It's painful. It's frustrating. and when you're in the middle of it, the light at the end of the tunnel doesn't exist. You feel like you're going to be there forever. Your world is either falling apart, or you're working extremely hard to keep it together. Am I speaking to anybody here?
I'm not able to do a lot for the people in Japan, but one thing I can do is pray for them. And I'm confident that God is listening and is already bringing relief, healing, and peace to many. And I'm also confident that whatever crisis you are facing, He is able to do the same. How do I know? Because that's what He says He will do.
In Luke 21 Jesus talks about difficult circumstances. He knew the people of Israel would face them, just as they already were. They were looking for Him to come and remove the difficulty. To set up His Kingdom, overthrow the Roman government, and destroy their enemies. But Jesus hadn't come for that. He had come to show the way of love and peace. Not political peace, but an inner peace that no dire circumstances could take away. He said, 'Look, you're still going to have war, natural disasters, sickness, and other scary things. You're going to be persecuted for following Me, and you will be betrayed by friends and your own family members. You might have to leave your homeland. The Temple will be destroyed. Things here aren't going to change, in fact, they will get worse. But don't be afraid. Don't live in fear. Stand firm and you will gain far more than the peace and comfort that any earthly kingdom could give you. You will find true life.'
The abundant life that Jesus said He came to give us: it's not a problem-free life. That's not the point. What's it about? It's about knowing Him. It's about seeing Him and hearing Him and following Him. He's got good things to show you, good things to tell you, and good places to lead you. It's about love--giving and receiving it. It's about peace and joy even when the earth shakes, the illness comes, and important things are lost. How is this possible? Because He comes.
"You will see the Son of Man come in the clouds with power and great glory...stand up and lift up your head because redemption is near." (Luke 21:27-28)
He always comes, but are we always looking for Him? Are we lifting our heads with confidence in who He is--in His power and great glory? Or are we hanging our heads in despair?
I pray that you will see Him today. May you see the light of His love, His truth, and His presence. I wish you hope. I wish you peace. I wish you joy. Remember His love. Remember that He is near.
"Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever." Psalm 117:1-2