Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: Judges

When Life is Hard

Does Life have to be this Hard?

Ever asked yourself that question?

Ever asked God that question?

Life is tough. But does it have to be this hard?

These are the kinds of questions that arise from living life in a still-fallen world.

Here’s an interesting portion of God’s Word that speaks to why life here and now has to be difficult. It comes from the dark days of the judge of Israel.

“Now these are the nations that the LORD left, to test Israel by them … It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before … They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.” (Judges 3:1a, 2, 4a)

Life in the Promised Land was anything but easy. The Israelites were required to dispossess people from their land and take it for God, His people and His purposes. To be sure they had not done their part thoroughly. They had been disobedient to the Lord in this. Yet, as the Scripture above reveals, there was a divine purpose in not immediately purging Canaan of all Israel’s enemies.

God had a two-fold purpose for leaving some of the inhabitants of the land, not removing them entirely from before and amid Israel.

The first purpose was that of testing. God wanted to see if His people would obey His Word. The hardship, difficulty and battles were there to test and expose the heart-condition of His people. Would they obey God when it was inconvenient?

The second purpose was that of training. Having exposed the truth about His people’s hearts and having regained their allegiance, God wanted to make sure His people did not grow soft amid the peace He provided. He did this expressly because He knew that they would not and could not always experience total peace in this world. God knew there would be other battles ahead of them and they still needed to know how to make war.

God does not remove all the difficulties and challenges from your life either. He allows many of these for these same two reasons. God is testing you. He wants you to have an opportunity to prove your love for and fidelity to Him. The way that is drawn out and expressed is through your obedience to His written Word in uncomfortable situations.

God is also training you. He wants to make you learn by experience to discern and defend the truth (Heb. 5:14). And He wants this not in some merely theoretical way, but in the real world of relationships, ministry, workplace, school, and neighborhood.

Testing deals with matters of our hearts. Do I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?

Training deals with matters our hands. Will I learn the skill of honoring God in the hard places of my life and relationships?

Still we ask: Does life have to be this hard?

Living under the care of a sovereign Lord, the answer must be “Yes!” He is good and all He does is good (Psalm 119:68). He finds no pleasure in our difficulties. But they are necessary for now, for in these things our Master is winning our allegiance and making us discipleship indeed (John 8:31-32).

 

Generational Degeneration

“God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts … God gave them over to degrading passions … God gave them over to a depraved mind.” (Romans 1:24, 26, 28)

“There arose another generation after then who did know know the Lord.” (Judges 2:10)

That which is unthinkable to one generation is to the next generation a secret fantasy.

What is a secret fantasy to one generation is to the next generation a whispered rumor.

What is a whispered rumor to one generation is to the next generation an open scandal.

What is an open scandal to one generation is to the next generation a matter of equal rights.

What is a matter of equal rights to one generation is to the next generation normal.

What is normal to one generation is to the next generation boring.

What is boring to one generation is largely abandoned in favor of something that was once unthinkable even to the most open minded a generation before.

Only our vigilance as those who make up this generation is a protection against the slow fade.

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