I sometimes wonder what it would have been like being the Israelites after they had been taken out of Egypt, and moved into the wilderness. For years they spent their time complaining about being out there and romanticizing their time in slavery back in Egypt, wishing they could be back there where at least they had plenty of food to eat, more than the boring manna which fell from the sky each day! It’s easy to read about the stories from that time and criticize them for their lack of faith in God, and for how quickly they seemed to forget what God had done during the great escape from Pharaoh and his men. When they were faced with challenging times, they immediately looked back to their past situation, a time of captivity and bondage, and dreamed of being back there, where at least they were guaranteed food, forgetting the reality of slavery.
I think sometimes we too act like that, looking back with a fondness to a past season in our lives, and wishing we were back there. But what we need to be doing instead, is to be always looking forward, always moving in the direction God has got us pointed in, always believing that God knows what He is doing, despite what our current circumstances may be trying to tell us.
I picked our car up from the garage yesterday after finding out that it will cost hundreds of pounds to get it to pass it MOT test, and so have since been looking for scrap yards that will take it off our hands in exchange for at least some cash. So, we are now car-less and dealing with some other financial uncertainties. But, a midst it all, I find myself full of joy and expectancy that God is about to do something amazing. Just this morning as I spent time with God, I was reminded of James 1:2, which reminds us to “consider it pure joy…whenever you are faced with trials of many kinds…” I have never really understood this passage before – how can I expect to be full of joy when going through trials? And then it hit me, I can consider it pure joy because I trust that God is for me and not against me, I know that He is at work to make all things good in my life, and I know that His peace fills me in the process of it all. Instead of looking at my current situation with fear and anxiety, I get to look at it with joy and excitement about what God is going to do, and how I get to partner with Him and be a part of it all the way. If I can just keep moving forward, trusting Him, then nothing can rob me of my joy!
I love Psalm 23, it’s a classic passage which gives us such a clear image of the character of God. He will never leave us, He is our comforter and strength, as we walk through the valleys. There are a couple things we need to do if/when we find ourselves in a valley – first is to walk, not stop, keep moving forward and not become overwhelmed with what we see around us. The enemy would love for us to stop and wallow in the valley for a time while he feeds us with doubts and fears that are lies and couldn’t be further from the truth.
The second thing we get to do is to remember all God has done for us. People back then would carve on their staff testimonies from their life of what God had done for them in the past, as a reminder for when they are faced with trials that God has helped them before, so He will help them again. It’s with that in mind that we can freely and joyfully move forward, laughing at the plans of the enemy because we have a big God who is on our side and who is guiding us through.
So, let’s exercise our laughter muscles today, as we laugh at the plans of the enemy, and as we look to God to fill us with joy and peace as we keep moving forward, from strength to strength, from glory to glory.