It is easy to live from emotion to emotion. Whether it be a broken promise, a hurtful family member, or endless disappointing circumstances, it is hard to overcome the things that have wounded us. We are called to live in love, true freedom, joy, and peace through every circumstance. Thats a wonderful idea, we sing about it at church, talk about it with our Christian friends, and pray about it when we are desperate…Yet, HOW????
I had been grappling with this idea while I faced my own pain. I wondered how I could experience true freedom, remain in peace, love and joy in every moment, and reach my fullest potential every day? How could I do this while simultaneously experiencing pain from my past, overcoming depression, and facing difficult circumstances? I thought I needed to fix everything first, to get healed to a certain “level” before I could experience this freedom. I justified being stressed out or worried through daily emotions. Though I knew God called me to walk in peace and joy through every circumstance, I would try to fix myself in my own strength to become “good enough” to walk in that peace “one day”. I would deal with problems through worry and stress until I could figure out a way to solve it in my own strength and logic.
The Holy Spirit reminded me that life will always be full of hard things, and I would never get to a “level” beyond the trouble that comes from living in this world. He softly spoke: “Unless you utilize the keys I have given you to live in peace and freedom, you will never walk in my fullest potential for you”.
God has given us the keys to remain in peace, joy, love and freedom through every bit of pain, and hardship that we will face. It is only through intimacy with Him that we can access this. Jesus explained to the disciples that the key to life is abiding in Him. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 NLT) Some synonyms for abiding are: enduring, lasting, persisting, lifelong, continuing, remaining, surviving, standing, everlasting, perpetual, eternal, unending, constant, permanent, unchanging, steadfast, immutable. It isn't a weekly appointment, it is a state of being continually in His presence! We can do nothing of true substance, nothing that will produce the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control) without abiding in Him!
In John 16:33 Jesus said “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” In chapter 15 and 16, Jesus told his disciples of the persecution and hardship they would face in the world, and how through abiding in Him they could rejoice and bear the fruit of peace and joy! When life breaks us, we need to lay broken open at the feet of Jesus!
Instead of asking God to lift us above every circumstance, let us ask God to show us the victory through it. “Although He (Jesus) was a Son, He learned [active, special] obedience through what he suffered, and his completed experience making Him perfectly equipped” (Hebrews 5:8 AMP). In James, it talks about how we are to be joyful when we encounter trails, because it brings steadfastness and patience… it’s incredible that God DIDN’T say: “when you encounter problems and pain, pray to me so I can remove it from your life”. He says, “But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be people perfectly and fully developed [with no defects] lacking in nothing. (James 1:4 AMP)
We are called to embrace our pain, embrace the struggle, and let God work something beautiful in us. Through every circumstance we will only become stronger; His promise is that we will become fully developed (reaching our fullest potential) and will lack nothing!
Paul realized that on his own, no matter how good he was, he could do nothing! When we attempt to hide from our circumstances and fix ourselves through our own strength it will feed a bottomless pit of frustration that will drain every bit of our peace. It is an exhausting cycle! Yet it is easy to mask this self-striving as righteousness. Paul said, “I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him” (Philippians 3:8 AMP).
What was the “everything” Paul referred to? It was his own striving, his own ability and gifts, his education, title, influence… Paul proclaims in verse 9: “that I may [actually be found and known as in Him, not having any self achieved righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Laws demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired) but possessing that genuine faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the (truly) right standing with God which comes from God by [saving] faith.” (Phil 3:9 AMP) Our own works and ability are not what makes us righteous or able to walk in victory. Paul realized that INTIMACY with Jesus is what gave him true joy, strength, love and peace through the most dire circumstance!
What if we viewed every circumstance as an opportunity to dive into His presence? What if we allowed the fruit of the Spirit within us to permeate our thoughts, words, and actions? Can you imagine how unstoppable we would be? I exhort you today to make a commitment to remaining in His presence regardless of what you will face. I urge you to ask God to lead you in victory through all your pain, and through every circumstance. I pray that we would recognize and partake in the true life, joy, peace and love that is found in intimacy with our Father. This isn't a “get your dream life quick” scheme… this is REAL, it’s raw and messy. It is a commitment to ABIDE in him. It is a commitment to lay aside the tools and methods we have used before to grasp at solace. It takes genuine, scary surrender. It takes honesty with ourselves, with God and with others. The outcome is beautiful! The outcome is TRUE FREEDOM!
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. [Ephesians 3:17-21 NLT]