Eric Jurmu | The Voice of Zion February 2019 --
In the life of a Christian is God’s peace and joy, but also the weakness of faith, temptations, and oppression. God guides His own along the narrow way of the cross. With sufferings, He wishes to try their faith, keep them humble, and draw them into ever closer fellowship with Him. God also often sees His children worthy to confess their faith by their suffering. When a Christian remains in God’s hands, his life is supported by an ever-deepening confidence that God leads everything for his best benefit. Humble thanks fill his heart because God has been patient to care for him, who is worthless, as His child. The hope of the coming glory also becomes more and more vivid to him. Watching and praying he awaits the final fulfillment of salvation. (CD 84)
Scripture often depicts a believer’s life and endeavor as a journey toward a final destination: the glory of heaven. To reach this destination a believer must walk on the narrow road of faith without giving up and turning back. Prophet Isaiah encouraged the believing travelers of his day, “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein” (35:8). Jesus teaches, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). And Paul encouraged his young coworker Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:12).
Powers around us would want to wrest this gift of faith from us. Without faith we would lose all hope. The encouragement of the resurrected Jesus rings true yet today, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev. 3:11).
Escorts in Faith
Faith is a personal, God-given gift. It is important and necessary that we care for this gift on the endeavor so we don’t lose it. However, we are not alone. We belong to a living, battling congregation that endeavors together. In this congregation, God unites His children in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and instructs them with His measure of grace. Here among God’s children, we have close and loving escorts who encourage us on the way. Without these escorts we would soon be lost. We can speak to them when it feels we don’t have enough strength to continue, or when we ponder: where do I go from here?
Trials and Joy
No one escapes trials of life, but what we learn from them is important. I have personally experienced that God’s kingdom shines brightest at the time of heavy trial. In God’s kingdom we have friends and escorts, those who lift and carry us.
God also gives strength through the power of the gospel, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16). Jesus comforts His own, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4) And the psalmist writes, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Ps. 126:5). Faith will carry us one day to the glory of heaven.
Does God Remember Me?
Name Withheld | The Voice of Zion February 2019 --
Is this really God’s plan for me? Does God truly know what’s best for me and my family? Why would God allow such a painful trial to a believing couple? If I’m living apart from my spouse, who can I ask for the gospel when I’ve fallen into sin? Is there something I’ve done to deserve this? Isn’t love and forgiveness enough to get through this trial and move past it?
Unanswered Questions, Loss and Grief
These are just some of the questions I’ve had over the years. My spouse has an addiction problem. We met and got married young and have many children together. After years of trying everything I could think of and learning as much as I could on how to be a healthy, supportive wife to an addict, we had to separate. I never imagined this for my life, as I’m sure my husband never imagined it for his. So how could this be? Addiction is like that. It destroys the addict and tears families apart.
During this time of separation, I’ve grieved the loss of my marriage and what I imagined my life would be. I’ve also grieved for my children and the fact that they do not have dad in their lives; maybe they never will. This grief has been extremely heavy at times, and I have found that it is in the darkest moments when the devil plants the most doubts. Some days I wondered where I’d get strength to continue another day. It was then that I also wondered: does God even remember me?
God Gives Joy, Escorts in Faith
I have found, however, that God has known my needs all along, even when I doubted so heavily. I notice now when I’m with my children that I have an overwhelming feeling of joy and love for them. I feel so fortunate. When I’m out for an evening with friends I’ve found that I can now truly enjoy the evening and have joy in my heart. God has given me many believing friends, a loving family and those who have been willing to selflessly help me, even in my lowest moments. It has made the darkest days brighter and taken some of the deepest pain. They have forgiven me all of my sins and doubts and I’ve received strength to continue. Through these escorts in faith, God has given me strength to remain believing.
The love of the believers is an amazing blessing. This trial has clarified to me the beauty of God’s kingdom. It has helped me treasure the relationships I have and hold them close. The believers have a love for their own like no other, and this is a God-given gift. God has remembered me! He gave me believing escorts because He saw I needed them. This has been one of the most precious things to me when wanting to keep my faith. I’ve cried and prayed to God that I wouldn’t lose these believing escorts.
God Has a Plan for Me
This trial has taught me to turn to God in prayer, to trust in Him and to remember that He knows best. When I remember that He has a plan for me and my family, even for my husband, it brings peace and comfort. God knows what we need, and He will give as He sees fit. Although I don’t know what that is, I want to be patient and trust in Him. By caring for my doubts and sins with the gospel of forgiveness I receive strength, even as a single mom, to continue in this trial.
I heard something when I was young that has helped me keep faith close: “You can’t battle a trial without a clean conscience.” I don’t remember where I heard it, but I have often thought of it when it feels I can’t fight anymore. Life is much easier when my sins are forgiven. It’s easier to be happy and accepting, even for a moment. It’s easier to be thankful. Even in this trial, I have so much to be thankful for.
1. Sing song of Zion 367 (O Soul, Let God Forever Guide You). What can we learn from these words?
2. What powers around us today threaten personal faith?
3. Share an experience of how God’s kingdom supported you in a time of trial.
4. Tell about a song of Zion that has been a comfort for you in times of trial.