Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hard Times

5 Things I learned about Hard Times from Jesus while reading Isaiah 38.  It is the story told of King Hezekiah's sickness and healing.  

1.     During hard times turn to the Lord in prayer.
Life was pretty good for Hezekiah until got sick. This was it, he was going to die.  No one wants that word from God.  “Give me a word God.  You are going to die. I think we got a bad connection.”  But this was not the first time he turned to God. He had sat and walked with God whole life.  Not perfect by any means, but faithfully.  This is what he felt during his hard time.  Whatever time I have left is spent in death’s waiting room.  No more meetings with my neighbors.  No more rubbing shoulders with friends.  This body I inhabit is taken down and packed away like a camper’s tent.  The blessing of a long life is denied.  Like a lion, God pummels and pounds me.  My eyes ache from looking up for help: I’m in trouble! Get me out of this!”  But what’s the use? God himself gave me the word. He’s done it to me.  I can’t sleep, I’m that upset, that troubled.
Have you ever prayed those prayers?
Hezekiah continued to look to heaven despite his feelings. During hard times turn to God.  James 5:13 Is anyone among you in trouble, sick? Let them pray.  Prayer is the medicine for every sore.  Kept relying on God during hard times.

2.    God will strengthen me during hard times so I can strengthen others.
Vs. 6 I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city. Hezekiah and the city were somehow connected.  The life of such a king was the life of the kingdom.  His death would distress the whole nation.  He was not just stressed for himself, but for his kingdom.  We have wrongly individualized our lives. We have lost the connection we should have with all of humanity.  When we get sick we feel bad for ourselves, but also we start to feel bad for those close to us. T I am blessed to be a blessing.  I am healed to give hope.  I have strength to strengthen.  I have joy to give joy.  I go through mourning to help those who are mourning.  I don’t know if or when the hard time will pass in this life, but pray for strength to accomplish your God given purposes.  Most of the time you minister out of your hurting.  So don’t waste a hurt, a divorce, a sickness, a loss.  Allow God to heal you so you can work with God to heal others.  It was not good, but God is good and God can use you through that hard time to help others. The Cross was not good but became the ultimate good for helping others. 

3.    Hard times can make you humble.
15 I have had these troubles in my soul, so now I will be humble all my life. ERV
Trouble strips away pride.  During trouble we realize we need God all the time.  Affliction should bring us to Scripture, church, to prayer.  God has a gracious ear opened to the oppressed.  God heard the Israelites cry in slavery. God will use the hard times for those who humble themselves to pour out his grace on us.

4.    Hard times can make your spirit strong and healthy. 2 Cor 4:17, 2 Kings 18:5
16 Lord, use this hard time to make my spirit live again. Help my spirit become strong and healthy. Help me become well! Help me live again!
It seems it was good for me to go through all those troubles.  Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. 
2 Cor 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
When you read biographies, it was the hard times that formed people.  If there was no hard times there is nothing to read about.  

A breakdown of Les Miserables. Jean Val Jean, mayor of city, raises an orphan daughter, lives a long life, dies he goes to heaven, great story.  All that is true, but I left out, 20 years in prison, hunted down for most of his life by authorities, illiterate, orphan daughter’s mother watched her die, a little thing called the French Revolution.

Hard times are chapters in your story that help shape your whole book/life. Don’t let suffering be the whole story.  Just a chapter that forms the whole

5.    Good will come from this. Matt 1:9-10, 16
Everything is gonna be alright
Scholars believe Hezekiah collected Old Testament books after his sickness

Pro 25:1 These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:
He became even more devoted to Scripture.  We may not have much of the Bible if not for this sickness.  History credits Hezekiah with overseeing the compilation of Isaiah, Proverbs, Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes.

After Hezekiah's sickness and healing,  3 years later he would have a son, Manasseh.  His sickness made him want to have a family.  
-Matt 1:9-10 Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh 16and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

Hezekiah's sickness worked out for the ultimate good.

Living For Jesus:
1.    This week take your sickness and troubles to God in prayer.
2.    Ask God to use this hard time so you can strengthen others.
3.    Picture the whole of your book(life).  How does this hard time fit into the whole.  Have an  
eternal perspective.
4.    Do you believe good will come from the hard time.

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