Be faithful to God in troubled time

Published 9:01 pm Friday, August 17, 2007

By Staff
The Psalmist declared in Psalm 34:19, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all."
Knowing God and serving God does not exempt one from going through trouble. Some commentators believe many of the psalms are messianic psalms; that is, the inner thoughts and the exercises of the soul of Christ in His earthly experiences.
God will overcome on our behalf; God will deliver, but not always as we might think. Many Christian martyrs went to death praising and trusting God, not in an immediate deliverance, but in the confidence that God would vindicate everything they lived and died for in this life and in the next life.
When Job was in the midst of suffering, he declared in Job, chapter 19, verses 25-26, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God." Job had much exercise of soul, but did not falter in his faithfulness to God. Job also said in Job, chapter 13, verse 15, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."
Life can be difficult, all with the purpose of strengthening our faith and drawing us ever closer to God. Paul stated in the epistle to the Romans, chapter 8, verse 28, "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." The purpose of God is to make those who are His children like His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). The primary tool of conforming us to the image of Christ is suffering.
The Apostle Paul in his final instructions to Timothy said in 2 Timothy, chapter 1, verse 12, "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." Faithfulness is required as we love and serve God.
A very descriptive phrase describing life and its process is in Psalms, chapter 119, verse 83. The psalmist says, "I have become like a wineskin in smoke." A wineskin was made of animal skin. It was carefully processed and fashioned to contain wine through the aging process. The wineskin had need of remaining flexible to perform its function. In Bible times, there was almost always a cooking fire, a bed of coals, ready to be used to prepare food and drink. The wineskin was likely never too far from all the cooking and eating activity. Open fires and beds of coals produce smoke. Smoke denotes heat and elements of deterioration. The wineskin in smoke was dried out and hardened prematurely.
Good sense would say, protect the wineskin from the things that would age it prematurely. But, hiding the wineskin away in a cooler, protected place would take away its purpose of being readily available.
So it is with our lives. Self-protectionism serves nobody well. It is in the usefulness, working under pressure and adversity, that we minister to others.
When the psalmist was speaking of being like a wineskin in smoke, he said in verse 82 of Psalms, chapter 119, "My eyes fail from searching Your word, saying, 'When will you comfort me?'"
As we go through life, never ask God to take you from the hook close to the fire, but stay there, being of great usefulness if even for a shorter time.