I daresay the last two years have been challenging for all of us. We have battled pestilence, uncertainty about the future, and loss of freedoms. Many of us have experienced the deaths of loved ones, sacrificed our jobs, and experienced a level of change that has left us unbalanced and out of alignment with our Lord. And I'm afraid that the forecast for 2022 appears to be no less challenging.
We can liken it to the "sifting" that the Bible tells us is God's prerogative. It is His right and privilege [as Sovereign Creator] to evaluate our faithfulness through tests and trials. But I believe it is all part of His plan to separate us from the things, ways, and idols of this world which threaten our purpose in being. There is potential [in our sifting] to produce opportunities to mature into becoming more Christlike. And our spirits should receive that with joy!
It is hard when we are in the midst of such life-altering chaos to see it from God's perspective. I understand that it might be difficult to see Him among all the political upheaval, economic fear, and societal divisiveness, because we tend to be focused on how it all affects us. But if we are to call ourselves "the Church" (and truly faithful followers of Christ), then our minds, souls, and spirits should be discerning just how all this offends our Father in Heaven! It is time we see the need to be judging ourselves! And if we are incapable of turning our hearts from idolatry and adultery with the world, then we should expect nothing less than a sifting to shake us up and separate us from that which seeks to make us comfortable in the world.
What does God need to sift from your life? Is your identity tied up in your possessions, your titles, and how you are perceived by others? Does your security lie in your job, your money, or a guaranteed future? Do you think your affiliation with a denomination, or your religion will insulate you from any form of sifting or shaking from our righteous God? If it is difficult to think about any of this, or thoughts of any further turmoil in your life, then I want to ask you this question: Are you determined to serve the Lord -- no matter what happens -- or are you more preoccupied with preserving and protecting your own well-being? That's a tough question, and one that I have asked myself.
You see, God has divinely ordained plans for our lives, and they involve His Kingdom purposes. We are not here, in this time and this place, for our own benefit! We are here to see His will done as Satan brings everything to bear on his plan to maintain his kingdom of darkness and overcome us. Even as so many of us face the loss of our jobs, homes, and yes, even our lives, we must remain steadfast in our purpose -- to glorify the Most High God, the King of Kings, and the Holy Spirit! If we truly desire to mature into Christ's image, then we must be willing to sacrifice [as He was willing to do] all the comforts and certainties of this world to serve God. And that means everything -- even up to and including our lives!
I believe that the difficult times we have already suffered -- and those to come -- are a sifting of our motives and allegiance. God wants to sift out all that robs us of faithfully and intentionally serving Him, as we pursue our assignments for His Kingdom. And Satan wants to sift that same loyalty and covenant relationship, purging us of our fidelity and devotion to the One whose Grace and Love sustain us. But we must not let the devil steal our witness of being Overcomers!
We don't know what this next year, or the next decade, will bring. I believe there is a powerful remnant of the faithful that are storming the Heavens with their prayers and their spiritual strategies to defeat the Enemy's encroachment on the freedoms Christ died to give us. I believe we will see glorious victories. And I believe those victories may well be accompanied by pain and sorrow, just as Christ experienced in His spiritual battles. Just as Jesus experienced, I believe God's called-out ones will become more deliberate targets of the Enemy and his cohorts. There is a flood of deception and lies swirling around us in the world, and we must establish our footing on the solid ground of God's Word and His faithfulness to His promises. Even though we may get tossed around by the winds and currents of deceit, we must stay focused on God's Truth, and the power of Jesus's intercession for us. We can trust Him to fight for us!
So, let us not be frightened by the efforts of the Enemy to attack our health, steal our carnal security, or destroy our relationship with our Father. Instead, let us see these trials as means to develop and strengthen our spiritual muscles -- producing stamina, endurance, perseverance, and a means to expunge us of our spiritual shortcomings. Through this process, the Bible says we will be made "perfect". And, let us see these trials as a way to walk in true freedom -- letting go of the ties that bind us to this world, and seeking [with like-minded family and friends] only to serve the Lord and trusting Him to accomplish His purpose in our lives! We can count it joy because, through the process, we will be able to walk in true holiness. And that is worth more than any reputation, job, house, dollar amount, or worldly enticement! That is true freedom and my spirit shouts for joy!
James 1:2-4 My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up in you the power of endurance. And then as your endurance grows even stronger, it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.