There are vines that climb up at the trunk of a mighty oak and cling to the tree during the storms. These vines have little to fear because of the protection they receive from the tree. When the wind blows on the opposite side of the tree, the vine is safely sheltered from the fierce winds. When the storm blows from the other side and the vine is exposed, the vine is only pressed closer to the trunk and that way there is no danger either. This is a beautiful picture of our lives as Christians. When we hold on to God as the vine does to the oak we have little to fear from the storms of life, we are protected and sheltered by God.
It has always been one of life’s greatest mysteries why God allows pain and suffering in our lives. After all, nobody likes to reside in the garden of affliction.
Nevertheless, it also seems true that the rarest and most precious of flowers grow in that very garden. There is no place on earth where faith is being strengthened and formed more than in that dreaded place. But the ground there seems hard and rocky and often strikes fear in our hearts.
And yet in spite of its pain, this place can become a place of deep communion with no one else but Jesus Himself. In this garden, there are no more cover ups and all will become real. If we look at things with the eyes of God, we will have the faith that this place is no accident or a place of punishment but is meant to be a gateway to the heart of God. After all, this life is not supposed to be an easy voyage, but is in many ways a preparation for the life to come, a life in which we will live every moment with and for God. One of God’s greatest interests in this life seems to be the growth of our faith.
After all, it is easy to have faith when all goes well and there are no clouds in the sky. But fair weather faith isn’t really faith at all. It’s masquerading as faith, but it doesn’t have the strength to hold on in times of trial.
God strengthens us in the valleys. But granted; these can be difficult lessons.
The first thing we usually fear when the darkness surrounds us is that God is no longer there and He must have forsaken us.
But just because we can’t see God, does not mean He is not there. Our feelings are never reliable indicators of God’s presence.
Oswald Chambers writes, “Spiritual confusion is not a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of God taking you through a way that you temporarily do not understand.” *
To rest in God’s arms without understanding why, to hold fast to His faithfulness and to believe that He will come through, somehow, sometimes in accordance with His promises is the kind of faith that can weather the storm.
It is the faith of Job who said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” *
How can we get that kind of faith?
Faith is given to us. We can’t learn it from a textbook and it doesn’t come any quicker when we try really hard to have it. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God*, and we hear it when we sit real still and listen to Jesus.
Often when we are in the garden of affliction we seem to listen better. It is one reason God sometimes brings us there. But wherever we are, in the midst of the valley or high on the mountain top, draw nigh unto God. Listen to the still, small voice. Let Him lead you and all will be well in the end. It is certain.
Why? Because the One who cannot lie has promised it.
* My Utmost for His highest – September 12
* Job 13:15 (KJV)
*Romans 10:17 (KJV)