Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Seven Times He Rises Again, By Hillary-Beth

Seven Times He Rises Again 

By Hillary-Beth Koenig

"It doesn't matter how hard you fall down. It matters that you trust God to raise you up again - after all, He's already Risen." ~One of my best friends~

Proverbs 24:16
For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again,
but the wicked are brought down by calamity.

"Everybody falls sometimes, but you will have the strength to rise..."
(Downhere, What Faith Can Do)

Struggles can try to take our focus off Christ and put our attention on our failures, pain, and circumstances. Even when I try my best, sometimes everything combined just overwhelms me, and if I have the guts, I will admit it - "I fell again."

One of my friends told me, in possibly one of the worst moments of my life,
"It doesn't matter how hard you fall down. It matters that you trust God to raise you up again - after all, HB, He's already Risen."

A few weeks ago I was talking to a girl, I'll call her Lydia. She was talking about these times when we can't feel God. "I really don't know what it is. It's been a few "dry" months. I still read my Bible and pray, but it's been real silent."

She wasn't alone. In fact, all of that week, almost everywhere I turned, I came face to face with yet another person in this type of situation. But Lydia had some great insight, as I'll share later on. Lydia's faith carries her through, but not everyone chooses to hold onto the promises found in God's word like she does. It made me wonder, do we not know the promises well enough? Are we letting the world tell us these promises aren't always true and so are unreliable? Are we trusting what we can see more than what is true?

Wondering how large the issue was with people my age, I put out an invitation to talk about these "dry" times on Facebook. One of my friends replied,"He's there despite how you feel! Salvation is not based on emotions. If you are happy, he's there. If you are sad, He is still there. God is greater than your heart (1 John)."

Since it was on my mind, we ended up doing this for a topic for youth. "When you can't feel God..."

I asked the youth group if they can always feel God. They said, No!
When I asked what causes it, they discussed that we aren't redeemed yet, that maybe sometimes it's just because we live in a fallen world, but that the day is coming when we will never be separated from God again, so it is our hope.

Back to my friend Lydia. She isn't remotely a part of the youth, but I liked her insight on the topic. She said, "I keep thinking back to what I've learned of Abraham. What hit me was how many years he waited in between each time he heard from God. It doesn't seem that long reading the chapters back to back, but looking at his was decades of time!"

Lydia knows the truth, which holds her in this time; even though she can't feel God, she is trusting Him that He is there, He is at work, and He keeps His promises. Hebrews Chapter 11 tells us about all kinds of people in the Old Testament, including Abraham, who trusted God their whole lives, not yet receiving the things they had been promised, but knowing it was all in God's plans and God's timing.

At youth, we were also looking at verses that talked about God strengthening us in our faith, and it was discussed that those dry times test us but also make us more like Christ, as God has prepared everything in our lives to do. That's in Romans 8:28-29.

I love what one of the kids said, I'll just share it... I asked, What should we do when we can't feel God, and I thought they might do the Sunday School answers of "Pray," "Read the Bible," "Go to church..." but she said, "Do things for your love of God. Do everything you do because you love God and want to please him. Do chores and school and everything for your love of God."

I was impressed with the thought of dedicating everything to God especially, in a time when I may feel a disconnect. "Wow, that's a good focus," I told her. This discussion made me smile cause we were getting into applying stuff in life. I hope it sticks. I learned a lot.

Along these same lines, one of my friends wrote as her status the other day, something like this: "I will keep running the race and even if I fall down, I will not stay there, but remember that the One who died in my place, understands and went through greater temptations and death than I ever could. I will get up and have one thing in mind: it’s to finish the race."

So, I'm going to break a bit here. One of the passages we examined at youth included that first verse I wrote above, Proverbs 24:16. I asked the youth,

1) What does it mean 7 times in this passage?
They answered, "Every day... or ... special number throughout the Bible, like forgiving 70 times 7, which is found in Matthew 18:22."

2) What does it mean to fall?

The dictionary says, "to come down under the effects of gravity." Quite literal - you're allowed to laugh here, they did!
Some possible serious understandings include fall referring to sin, and our sin nature. We covered the question, "Are we born sinless, or sinners?" There was a little debate but we ended up at the conclusion that we were born sinners according to the Bible.

3) What does calamity mean?

Once again, the dictionary says, "adversity and trials, disasters that life inevitably sends our way."
This had great meaning to me, as far as the last part.

Now we get to the good stuff, where the hope comes in.
4) How do we have the strength to overcome our downfalls?

God provides the strength through His victory at the cross. It's supernatural. We can't do it ourselves or on our own.

5) What is our hope supposed to be in?
The Cross; eternal life; God

6) What is hope?
Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Hope produces joy and peace.

7) Can we always FEEL God?

8) Is something wrong when we can't feel God?
Not always.

9) What should we do when we can't feel God?
See the student's answer above, about dedicating ourselves nonetheless.

In summary, the comfort that God gives us is not to escape the trouble we go through, but to get through the trouble to the end. WHAT'S THE END? Eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord.

Truth: The more you think about a fall, a circumstance, whatever is holding you back... the bigger the problem becomes, because you put all your time on problem, instead of enjoying the freedom - FREEDOM FOUND IN CHRIST.

When we can't feel God, it's not that He is not at work.
That's something we just have to trust.
And there are reasons to trust Him; everything He's done for me in my life so far, everything He's done in the lives of those around me and those I read about through all of history, the cross... so many reasons.

I choose to trust Him.
Now you choose - when the dry times come (and they will!) will you examine your life, praise Him, and wait on Him?
Or will you try to take things in your own hands, stubbornly refuse His grace and peace, and try anything to "feel" again?


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