Difficulties cause our pride to crumble, leaving room for new life
Written by Shawn Naylor
Snowboarding used to be a major part of my life, and recently my sons have also discovered it. Thank you, YouTube.
After an intense amount of nagging, pleading, and negotiating I got them some used snowboards and we built a little park in the backyard. I could hear past teachers of mine saying, “Building snowboard jumps will never be a skill you’ll need!”
If only they could see me now. Anyway, one day we were snowboarding. It was quite cold but still manageable. However, my left hand goes numb if exposed to the cold—the result of an old skateboard injury.
I felt my hand going numb, but I couldn’t understand why. I was wearing the same mittens I always wore. But when I inspected them, I found holes in the mittens. They could no longer protect me.
This is a little like what happens when the beliefs or actions we assume are invincible suddenly reveal their weaknesses.
In Psalm 66, the psalmist talks about what God did for the Israelites when He took them out of bondage. As the Israelites saw the resurgence of former oppressors closing in on them, God revealed an unexpected path forward: through the Red Sea.
The Israelites were focused on the problem and not on the solution. They were afraid, but they responded to their deliverance with praise and rejoicing. This story shows how God uses circumstances to change and realign us to his call.
Think further back in the story of Israel. Moses acted on his own, killing an Egyptian, and became a fugitive hiding in the mountains. Then God met Moses in his aloneness. This time, Moses let God act, the people were freed.
Moses thought his people’s freedom would come from his hand. But when he claimed to bring water from a rock in his own might, God used this circumstance to reveal to Moses the condition of his heart.
Later on in Psalm 66, the writer declares that God is in the middle of our greatest problems and will use those situations as vehicles to teach and fulfill us.
“For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.”
Insert COVID-19 into this psalm. Here is a situation we must face. It’s not the result of anything you or I did. But it has revealed many things. One truth it has revealed is that we’d rather put our faith in the things we can control, in the things we can do.
The root of what we put our faith in has been exposed. This is what God has said to us throughout the Scriptures: without Him, nothing is possible.
Instead, these situations are divine platforms for the glory of God to be revealed. We ourselves can do nothing, but He can do everything!
I love how Psalm 66 transitions from the weight of fear and suffering to the abundance that is found when God pulls us through all terrible circumstances that should have ended us.
Leadership struggles can leave us feeling crushed and drowned. Yet God will remove all that stands in the way of our full potential until those watching will no longer see us, but God working in us.
Through the process of sanctification, the decisions and steps we take will look less like our broken human condition and instead reflect the work of God in us and the responsibility He’s given us.
Difficult circumstances expose the truth of what’s going on inside and around us. They make us aware of the holes in our thinking, like the cold air revealed the holes in my mitts. And they force us to wrestle with human nature, personal desire, earthly outcomes, and God’s purposes.
Here’s where we must be okay with letting go of our old ways of thinking or living and replace them with new ways that are better suited to doing God’s will.
We must be willing to embrace the unknown because the unknown is fully known to the Lord.