Hello readers. Today I have the pleasure of announcing RKW (the Right Kind of Writer)’s very first guest post! Our guest today is CoCo Ashley. This post is longer than the usual, but reading it is so worth it! Now, take it away CoCo.
What do you do when life is hard? When God feels silent? When you’re discouraged in your faith?
For me, I used to look back on my “mountaintop” experiences–back to when life was good or when I experienced God in a fresh way–and wish I could go back. I would get frustrated because I knew God was fully capable of doing it again, and yet for some reason, He wasn’t. For some reason, He seemingly decided it was time to halt the forward momentum and growth.
It would lead me to think that God was withholding something from me, or that I was doing something wrong because it seemed I wasn’t growing anymore.
For example, I would go to church camp and be surrounded by all the hype, and all the leaders would tell me that I could take the truths they had preached during the week home with me. But then I’d get home and stare at the ceiling, wondering where all the joy and excitement had gone.
However, what I’ve come to learn is that, sometimes, God doesn’t want to do it again. He doesn’t want to give us the same experiences or feelings because He wants to give us something new. Something better. Something we never would have thought possible. And we’ll never discover something new if we are constantly holding on to the old. We shouldn’t place our security on the familiar.
In seasons when God feels distant, we must remember that He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and He will always keep His promises. Difficulties and discouragement test us to see where our true loyalties lie. Because for the one who is fully committed to Jesus, there simply is nowhere else to go. We must pursue Him with all that we are even if it feels like we’re shooting in the dark.
The Bible offers us many verses to combat the discouragement and I would highly suggest that you make Scripture your number one resource, but today I would like to share three truths that have helped me personally.
1. We Will Find What We Seek
When I find myself growing discouraged in my pursuit of God, I love to return to Jeremiah 29:12-13.
“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”Jeremiah 29:12-13
It’s always a great reminder that my searching is not in vain. Despite my doubts, my prayers are being heard. Despite seemingly fruitless attempts to find Him in difficult situations, God does see my efforts.
But we have to be committed to seeking Him with all of our heart.
God will do His part regardless of our faithfulness (thank God for His grace!) but in my experience, life is so much better when we do our part as well.
There was one particular morning last summer I had planned to get up early to pray, but my alarm never went off and I woke up much later than I had anticipated. I was discouraged, but rather than calling it quits completely, I still decided to give God whatever time I had. And the devotional I read ended up being exactly what I needed… a reminder that God is worthy of my whole-hearted pursuit.
Here’s what it said: “Do you find it hard to connect with God? Hard to hear his voice? Don’t worry, this is to be expected. God wants to see how much energy you’re gonna put into finding Him and getting to know Him. He’s interested in the chase.” ~Devotions for the God Girl by Hayley DiMarco
His “silence” toward us, or perhaps our own shortcomings, may make it hard to pray, but those are the very moments we ought to pray the hardest.
2. We Will Reap What We Sow
The Bible teaches the concept of reaping what we sow–whatever we plant is the kind of fruit we’ll grow. If we sow half-heartedly, we probably won’t have much fruit to enjoy.
If we spend our time appealing to our senses, feelings, and emotions, we are sowing to the flesh and will reap destruction. We can’t only be Christians when the hype is high. But if we spend our time reading our Bible, praying, and filling our minds with truth–even when it’s hard–we are sowing to the Spirit and will reap eternal blessings.
We must keep in mind that what is done in secret now will one day be brought to the light. The things we do in private when people aren’t watching (or so we think) are a reflection of who we really are.
Every year at awards ceremonies, I always wish I had done more. Worked harder. Really given my time and devotion throughout the year so I could feel as though I had made a difference, rather than barely doing the requirements just to earn my empty prizes. It may be easy to appeal to our flesh and skimp in the moment, but when judgment comes we won’t be able to go back and say, “Well, God, I was just waiting for life to get easier.”
I don’t want to find myself in front of God wishing I had done more or started sooner. I don’t want to find myself wishing I had spent more time chasing the things of God rather than the things of earth. I want to hear “well done, good and faithful servant,” so I will press on and keep sowing to the Spirit, even when it is hard.
“Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.”
3. We Will Be Rewarded for Pressing On
If God has promised us something, we can be 100% sure it will come to pass. We just haven’t seen it yet, because God’s timing is different than ours.
Perhaps God hasn’t opened a door for us because He knows we aren’t ready.
Perhaps He hasn’t come through like we had hoped because He is preparing something better.
Perhaps we haven’t received our answer to prayer because God knows something we don’t.
Whatever the case, we are instructed to live up to whatever truth we have attained (Philippians 3:16), pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and trust that God will work out all things for good, for those who love God (Romans 8:28).
I am always reminded of the story of Daniel, when the angel finally shows up and tells him he came because of his prayers. Let that be an encouragement to us to not give up hope, because help is on the way.
“‘Don’t be afraid, Daniel,’ he said to me, ‘for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers.” Daniel 10:12
God doesn’t call us to be Christians only when it’s easy, nor does He want us to seek Him only when we feel like it. He definitely doesn’t promise we will escape hardship; in fact, He guarantees we will have trouble in this world.
That’s why the path is called narrow, and why few find it. Unfortunately, it’s also a big reason why people walk away.
But I don’t want to be the Christian who hangs around just long enough for the blessings and feel-good experiences. Instead, I want to be the Christian who will return time and again, even when life doesn’t feel good. Especially when life doesn’t feel good.
I want to follow Jesus rain or shine.
If God seems far away, or if you’re questioning why He has allowed something to happen, take it to Him. All too often we retreat and try to figure out God on our own, but apart from Him we will never find true understanding. God can handle our questions, and He can handle our doubts.
Even when life is hard, we can press into God and press on to victory, keeping our eyes on Jesus.
We are promised it will be worth it.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:13-14
CoCo Ashley is a young writer devoted to using her words for the glory of God. She has been writing for as long as she can remember and dreams of one day publishing both fiction and nonfiction. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her talking with her friends, reading a book, or simply being an introvert with music in her headphones. Connect with her on her blog at cocoschitchat.com.
With God’s help,
Daniel L. Amador