So it’s been a few weeks since I posted because I really went blank on what to say. The thing that has been rolling around in my mind has been “rejoicing in the dark times”. Some of my previous posts have touched on this and I have posted out on Facebook too, but it is always something that is in front of me. It can take so much effort sometimes to rejoice but that is what the Lord calls us to do, so I struggle to find a way.
A sermon I heard a few weeks back has been with me. Acts 16 tells the story of Paul and Silas who were unfairly thrown into the innermost prison and left in shackles. Instead of being down and defeated, they sung praises to the Lord. God caused the earth to shake, shackles to fall and doors to open. One message of the sermon was about not wasting the dark times of life. I know people who this seems to come easy for them but not for me. I get frustrated and angry that once again something is going wrong. Things build up until I feel ready to throw in the towel. I am learning that some of those people who I think are easily rejoicing…are not easily rejoicing. They are struggling with it too. Maybe they just hide it better than I do? Maybe. So now I am interested in examples of people who rejoiced during the trials and the result of that. I have read the stories in the Bible my whole life, but because scripture is alive and active, it has a different impact on us during different times of life. So who are a few of the people?
Let’s start with Paul. His relationship with God is something that I am in awe of. It is in the dark times in his life and the trials that he faced where his passion for the Lord is shown. Sitting in prison or house arrest and the “thorn in his flesh” that God refused to heal him of never dissuaded him from preaching the gospel and encouraging the saints. God used him in those weaknesses in a mighty way causing him to be the author of most of the New Testament. So much we have learned from him. He was faithful in the dark times and now we are a legacy of that faithfulness and have such a rich example and guidance on how to live our lives.
My favorite person is David. The life he lived was quite eventful. Slew a giant as a teenager, became friends with King Saul, banished and chased for years by Saul, became a powerful king himself, committed adultery and organized her husbands MURDER, father to Solomon who would build the temple, danced in front of the ark of the covenant as it came back to the kingdom, and the Messiah, Jesus Christ, our Savior, is a descendant. Whew! The thing I love about David is his honest relationship with God. When he was being pursued, he would call out to God…
Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
This sounds so desperate and it is something I have cried out myself many times, but if you keep reading you will see David does understand that God knows and cares. God is there in hard times though we may not always see it. David, in all his crying out, still honored God with his praise and he rose to be a mighty King and a “man after God’s own heart”. No matter what happens to him or what he does to himself, he always comes back to God and is restored. He praised even during the dark times and God was faithful to him and richly blessed his lineage.
I don’t think I will ever be a David or Paul, but God is moved by my praise in the darkness and will be faithful to see me through storms. Praise is the key. It comes in many forms like prayer, singing, obedience and testimony. When the hard times hit, sing His praises out loud, lift Him up, watch the chains fall and doors open in your life. Back to Paul and Silas, when the doors open all the prisoners are set free not just those two. The guard nearly took his life out of fear because of the consequences he would face. Instead, he took Paul and Silas to his home and he and his family turned to God. People are watching us and how we handle the dark times. Praising benefits us, others and can possibly “entertain angels unaware”.