You may feel forsaken. Abandoned. And Forgotten.
Let me encourage you on this day with this word: God did not bring you this far to leave you! GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU! Even in our darkest hour, we can remember that God is there! So, don’t give up hope! Be encouraged, my dear friend!
Let’s take a quick look at two different testimonies in the Bible. The first testimony of Joseph and the other of Stephen.
- Joseph—His father and his brothers rebuked him for his dreams. Joseph’s brothers hated him and were jealous of him. They plotted to kill him, but instead they sold him into slavery. Then, after being a faithful servant in Potiphar’s house, Joseph was accused of rape. He was thrown into jail where he served time for being wrongfully accused of a crime that he did not commit. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. Joseph’s story continued and he ended up being in charge of the whole land of Egypt, with Pharaoh even giving Joseph his signet ring! Wow! Eventually, Joseph was able to look his brothers in the face and say, You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Joseph went through HARD times, yet he came out on top in the end! (Read Genesis chapters 37, 39-50).
- Now, let’s take a look at Stephen’s testimony—Stephen was chosen as one of the seven leaders of the church because he had great faith and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Stephen performed great wonders and signs among the people, yet opposition arose. The people lied on Stephen and wrongly accused him of blasphemy. The Bible says the accusers stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. Stephen was ultimately stoned to death. Scripture says, While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Stephen ended up dying for his faith. Even though he did not have a happy ever after ending like Joseph, Stephen’s testimony is still one of victory and triumph. Look at the beauty of how his life ended: But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” POWERFUL! Amen! (Read Acts chapters 6 & 7)
We can see that God was there with Stephen as he was being persecuted, just as he was with Joseph during his trials and tribulations…and so, he is with you and he is also with me. Amen! Glory be to God.
This brings me back to my initial points: GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU! Even in our darkest hour, we can remember that God is there! So, don’t give up hope! Be encouraged, my dear friend!
We may not always understand why God allows us to go through certain situations, but the Lord is sovereign—we can trust His Word that in ALL THINGS—and I repeat, we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose! Anything and EVERYTHING that we go through in life must pass through God’s hands first. Therefore, we can trust that trials and tribulations make us stronger. We may not reap the rewards of our labor on this side of heaven, but be encouraged by declaring these scriptures aloud: God’s “…grace is sufficient for me, for God’s power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. For this reason and “…for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
God is working everything out for your good! Keep the faith!
P.S. Why don’t you take time to read Hebrews chapter 11—it’s the beautiful chapter that tells about what faith looks like in action! Let the Word of God lift you up…for our faith heroes were all commended for their faith because they persevered through tests and trials. They were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. So, whether our story ends like Joseph or Stephen, may we be reinvigorated in knowing that we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. Amen.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:11-18 (NIV)