He is With Us

I never got around to posting a blog last week, though I had intended to do so. I was working on one, but hadn’t been able to finish it, and then partway through the weekend, I received some tough news. Two women from my hometown were killed in a car wreck on the way home from a football game Friday night. The two ladies were sisters and I knew both of them in one capacity or another. One of the ladies I had gone to school with all the way from elementary through high school. We were in the same grade and we graduated together. Both were mothers and wives. It was a shock, to say the least, and it kind of turned my world upside down. I still haven’t been able to fully wrap my mind around what happened and that they are no longer on this earth with us. I do know that in those first moments after I found out and cried to the Lord, He reminded me that He is Emmanuel, God with us, and that while those sweet friends are in His presence rejoicing with Him, He is the very same One who is holding us here in our grief.

As today approached (Friday’s the day I usually try to get my blog posts up), I wasn’t sure what to post. The post I had been working on for the week before didn’t feel like it was right for now. But I didn’t know what else to say or write about. And so I prayed. I prayed Thursday evening into this morning, asking the Lord to show me if there was anything to share or if I was just not supposed to post this week. As I laid this before Him yesterday evening, I felt a prompting to tell others what He’s been doing in my life, share how He’s been working in the midst of my struggles. But I still didn’t know exactly what that meant or if it was even referring to me posting a blog or something else entirely. This morning, as I was browning hamburger meat for chili for supper tonight, I prayed again for Him to show me if I was to post or not today. As I stood there doing a mundane daily task, words started flowing and I grabbed my phone. I had my answer. He was showing me what to post today. So here it is. I pray that it reaches whoever it needs to reach and the Lord does with it whatever He desires to do. 

Have you ever let your child go through something difficult because you knew it would grow them and change them and make them better or stronger? Have you ever had to make a decision for your child that they didn’t like and they bucked against it, but you knew it was the best thing for them? God does the same with us, only as far as parents go, He is, by far, the best One. He has the whole picture. We see only a part. And our view is often distorted. So when God allows something to come into our lives that hurts or that we don’t like, we often buck it. We don’t like it. We don’t want to deal with it. And sometimes we shut ourselves away from God because we’re angry with Him. But He never leaves us or forsakes us. Even when we are trying to push Him away because we are angry or hurt or don’t understand the situation, He is still a loving parent, the only One who is perfect in all His ways, and He is holding us, giving us strength to endure that we don’t even realize in the moment. Even then, He’s still wooing us back to Him.

This week has been rough. You see, my struggles this past week began even before I received the news that I did on Saturday. I was facing an enemy and a battle that I had hoped to never face again, one that I had hoped was done and gone. In the couple of weeks before this past one, fear had been pounding on me, and in a few of those moments, I felt like he had a noose around my neck. I cried out to God, “WHY?! Why am I going through this again? I don’t know if I can take it again!” As I faced this battle, it made me think of how I’ve felt with my last couple of pregnancies, knowing that at the end came labor. Painful, hard, feels like your insides are being ripped apart labor. Labor that I did NOT want to go through. I wanted the baby. But I did not want to go through the labor. I remember, with the last two pregnancies especially, having this feeling like I was sliding down a slope toward an end that I didn’t want to meet, and I was trying to push away from it with all my might and go back up the slope, but going back up wasn’t an option. A way out wasn’t an option. I HAD to go through it. No matter how hard I fought it, labor had to happen if I was going to get the sweet baby in the end. I was pushing with everything in me against something that I knew was inevitable, but I didn’t want to have to go through it.

In these moments of fear and panic, I’ve cried out to Him. In some, He calmed my spirit. In others, He provided me with things to hold onto. He’s placed scripture after scripture and words of encouragement just where I needed them. He placed truths right in front of me when I was needing just that thing to cling to. During this time, I have been working my way through unit 6 of Experiencing God. I felt like I was drowning in fear and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it out. And then I read these things:

“When you look at God from the middle of your circumstances, you will always have a distorted understanding of Him. For instance, you might say, ‘God doesn’t love me’ or ‘God isn’t fair.’ Both of those statements about God are completely false.” 

“Look back at your circumstances from the heart of God.” 

“Never determine the truth of a situation only by looking at circumstances. Don’t evaluate your situation until you have heard from Jesus. He is Truth.” 

“He builds your character in an orderly fashion with a divine purpose in mind.”

There have been moments when my struggle has been intense and I haven’t felt like I know what to do to overcome it, but He does. As I’ve sought Him out, as I’ve looked to Him, He’s given me His perspective on this. I may not have all of His perspective, but I have enough to carry me through. 

He’s told me firmly, “You will make it through this.” He’s reminded me that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces character. 

“Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity) and character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.” Romans 5:3-4, AMPC

I asked Him for Truth, and He provided me with these things from His Word:

“But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!” -2 Corinthians 12:9, AMPC

Through Genesis 15:1, He’s said, “Do not be afraid, I am your shield and your reward.” 

He’s used verses in Exodus that tell of Him bringing the Israelites up out of Egypt to show me that He is bringing me out of where I’ve been and that He is restoring what the enemy has taken.

He’s reminded me of who I am, that I am a part of His bride and that He has covered me and protected me. He’s reminded me of the joy of my salvation in Him and the reward I have to look forward to as a part of His bride.
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exult in the my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” -Isaiah 6:10, AMPC

“God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.” -Psalm 46:1, AMPC
He is my Strength. He offers Himself to me, to be all that I need Him to be to do all that He wants me to do. He is my refuge from the temptation to fear. He is my strength against it. He is my way out of it. He is present with me. And He proves Himself over and over again as my help in whatever trouble I face.

“I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up out of a horrible pit [a pit of tumult and destruction], out of the miry clay (froth and slime), and set my feet upon a rock, steadying my steps and establishing my goings. And He has put a new song in my mouth, a word of praise to our God. Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord.” -Psalm 40:1-3, AMPC
He is the One who has drawn me up out of the pit. He didn’t just take me out of it, He set my feet upon a firm foundation, making my steps steady and establishing my goings. Then He went a step further and put a song of praise in my heart. He doesn’t just take us out of the pit and leave us. He takes us out, sets us on a firm foundation, and steadies and establishes our steps, and gives us a song of praise for Him. And because of His work in us, others will see and put their trust and reliance in Him. Just one reason why He allows us to go through storms, so that He can prove Himself and His trustworthiness to a world that needs Him.

He’s whispered that He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is with me always. It’s the very definition of who He is for Him to be with me, to be with His people. If He is with me, if He is my Shield and Protector, what do I have to fear? He’s guiding everything. He’s faithful and trustworthy.

“But instantly He spoke to them, saying Take courage! I AM! Stop being afraid!” -Matthew 14:27, AMPC
We do not have to be afraid because of who He is. He is the Great I AM! He is the reason we do not have to fear. He wants us to trust Him with all our hearts, to trust Him to do what’s best. The Great I AM is with us.

He showed me that He was with me the very first time I struggled with this fear and in every instance since. He reminded me that He loves me and that I am His and He is mine. He reminded me that I am in His hands and I’m not going anywhere. And that greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world.
“Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world.” -1 John 4:4, AMPC

Even when I feel tossed about, He is not, and I am in His hands, the One who stands firm and is never tossed about. I cling to the Truth that He loves me and that He operates out of love because He IS love. I realized that even though I didn’t feel like I was ready to face another battle like the one I was in, He knew I was because He knows the whole picture and He knows the work He has been doing in me and He knows what He wants to reveal about Himself to me through this. 

I don’t know how many times over the last few weeks, I’ve heard Him whisper to me that He is with me. Enough times that, I think maybe it’s starting to sink in, that He is truly with me in every moment. That He has never left me or forsaken me. And when I’ve struggled to believe the Truth I know He’s laid before me, I’ve cried out, “Help my unbelief.” And He has. He helps us even in our unbelief when we cry out to him for help to believe!

I had those moments where I wondered why this was happening again and what I was supposed to do with it. I had some moments where I questioned God and wondered if He loved me and how He could allow me to go through this again. But in each of those moments, I cried out to Him, and He reached out and spoke Truth to my heart. He reminded me what His Word says. He reminded me of His love for me and that His love for me is real and steadfast even when I don’t feel it. And in the midst of struggling with a battle I didn’t ever want to struggle with again, I realized there was a new nuance to it this time. A sense that while my feelings and emotions were all out of sorts, my spirit was seeking to rest in the Truth. A knowing in my knower that God is with me this time that is even more clear than in my last battle. I know Him differently, I know Him in a way that is new to me. Through this time, I’ve experienced Him as my Rock and my Shield in a way I never have before. He has always been that. I just hadn’t seen it so clearly until this time. 

Sometimes I think we think God is testing us when really what He’s doing is proving Himself and the work He’s been doing in us to us. We feel like we’re being tested, and sometimes it feels like we’re being tested just to show that we’re failing, how we’re lacking in an area, but what He’s doing is proving Himself and who He is to us, and proving the work He’s been doing in us, the work that we don’t even fully recognize until it’s proven to us.

Throughout the week, He’s been placing scripture and other things in my path that tell me to share of what He’s been doing, to declare His works. And last night, I felt Him prompting that in me again, to share what He’s doing, but I still didn’t know what exactly I was supposed to share until this morning. And then it was like the floodgates opened and this is what came out. I believe He has a purpose in prompting me to share this. Someone needs to hear this, to know this, to be encouraged by this, to find Him through it and to remember that He is in every moment with His children. Even in their toughest, most painful moments, He is with them, giving them life and strength and things to hold onto as they weather the storm. We can have hope and take courage because He is the Great I Am and The Great I Am is with us. We can have courage because of Who He is and because of all that He is.

I don’t have enough words to fully express all that He’s done for me, all that He’s shown me, all that ways He’s helped me. I can’t even fully grasp it, but I hope He shines through in this. I hope that You hear His hope and love for you through my story and what He’s been doing in my life. He is Love and Truth all rolled into one. He is a good, good Father.

I don’t know what your circumstances are, but I can promise you this, that He is a good, good Father. I can promise that He loves you. I can promise that He is with you always. Our circumstances may change, our feelings may change, our hearts may hurt, but He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the only truly steadfast thing in this life. And He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. Even if you don’t feel it or believe it in this moment, He is with you. Trust Him, get His perspective, and believe that He is at work around you and in you. His Word is Truth. He’s given it to us to cling to. Let’s walk in it and believe it even when we may not feel it. The reward is great when we do.

Father, I pray for all those with hurting hearts. Jesus, be near to them. I thank You that You already are. Give them hope, give them Yourself to hold onto. Help them not to try to view who You are from inside their circumstances, but give them a little of Your perspective. When their feelings are all a mess and they feel like that they can’t see anything clearly, show them Truth to stand on in the midst of the storm. Help them to know You in a new way as they walk through whatever they are walking through. And Jesus, help us in our moments of doubt and unbelief, to believe. Give us strength to believe the Truth of Your Word whether or not it “feels” true in the moment we’re in. 

“Be careful how you make sense of your life. What looks like a disaster may, in fact, be grace. What looks like the end may be the beginning. What looks hopeless may be God’s instrument to give you real and lasting hope. Your Father is committed to taking what seems so bad and turning it into something that is very, very good.” -Paul Tripp

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