What should we do when trial comes?
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel:
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
And my just claim is passed over by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isa. 40:27-31)
- The nation of Israel during the times of Isaiah was going through a very tough situation. Historians say they were exiles in Babylon. The fact is that they were going through a very difficult season. Their reaction was to question God and His character in light of what they were going through. The first thing the prophet does, is to ask why they are so doubtful about the Lord.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my just claim is passed over by my God”? (Isaiah 40:27)
- All of us face trials and difficult situations in our lives. The important thing when we are going through a stormy season is how we react to it. Do we get offended with God? Do we doubt His character? Or we rather lean on Him, decide to trust in His leadership and let Him work in our weakness?
- Trials are not easy. During these stormy seasons we are actually facing our own weaknesses, our lack of power and control to move the circumstances around us. Suddenly we realize that God is the only one that can help us and bring comfort in the midst of the storm.
- At this point is where many people instead of turning to God turn against Him. In the sense of accusing Him and doubting who He is. That is what seems to be going on here in Isaiah chapter 40.
Martha, Mary, the people of israel and us
- The people of Israel could not understand what was going on and why they were still exiles if they were promised to return to their land. They were tired and hopeless in their affliction. This picture is similar in many ways with the story of the death of Lazarus in the Gospel of John chapter 11.
- In the story Martha and Mary send a messenger to Jesus saying that their brother (Lazarus) whom He (Jesus) loves is sick. They ask for Him to come and see him so that he may be healed. Jesus’ reaction is very interesting; look what He does in response to their cry.
4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” (John 11:3-7)
- When Jesus hears that Lazarus is sick, He immediately says that his sickness is not unto death but to glorify God through it. But because He loves them, He decided to stay two more days and make them wait for Him. The result of this two-days delay, is the death of Lazarus. Jesus knew it would happen, He did it on purpose. But why?
- Let us look at both Martha and Mary. And what is their reaction during this tragic moment of their journey.
20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. (John 11:20-21)
28…she went her way and… called Mary… “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” 29 as soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:28-32)
- Martha’s reaction was to arise and go after Jesus to speak to Him. She says the exact same words that Mary did and there is nothing wrong with that. It is a true statement “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” But if we keep reading the next verses (John 11:22-27) we will see how doubtful and confused she was in that situation. So Jesus had a conversation with her reminding her of who He is.
- Mary waited for Him and when He called her she went. As she saw Jesus, she fell at His feet and then she repeated the same phrase that Martha had said to Jesus before. But there is a huge difference here. Mary bows down at His feet, she recognizes who He is and then she speaks the same words that her sister had spoken earlier. There was something special about what she did. Because Jesus was moved by the way she approached Him and recognized who he was. Even in that difficult and painful situation that she was going through.
- Her heart posture moved so much Jesus’ heart that He cried.
33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping… He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 and He said, “Where have you laid him?”… 38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb… 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” (John 11:33-39)
- It is amazing how Mary’s heart posture moved Jesus. By seeing her response of love and trust towards Him during hardship, He was compelled to move on Her behalf.
- I believe Martha represents Israel in this scenario and how they were reacting in the midst of their troubles. The nation of Israel was doubtful and needed to be reminded by Isaiah who God is. That is not the heart posture we ought to have on any circumstance.
- Mary on the other hand, I believe is a role model of how we should react when in trouble.
Being shaped through trials and glorifying God
- During trials our character is being shaped. Paul understood it very well. He saw trials and tribulations with a different perspective. He faced trials and tribulations with the eyes of faith and he took it as opportunities of being transformed. He loved and honoured God through many seasons of testing.
3…but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom. 5:3-6)
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)
- We were made to glorify God in every season and on every circumstance of our lives. During seasons of pain we have the opportunity of loving God in a way, which we would not be able to if things were going well and smoothly all the time. I believe Paul understood this reality very well and Mary did too.
- We clearly see at the end of Lazarus story, when he was brought back to life. That God was truly glorified in that situation. Also that Martha and Mary were tested and were shaped under the circumstances they were facing.
The importance of knowing God’s character
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. (Isa. 40:28)
- Isaiah questions the people. He is calling their attention, He is saying “Don’t you remember who He is? Don’t you remember all He has done for you in the past? Sometimes circumstances around us are so difficult and “dark” that we are not able to remember and see what the LORD has done for us in the past in many different situations.
- That is exactly what Martha was experiencing after her brother’s death. She was full of unbelief and unbelief is contrary to faith. But according to the Scriptures the just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4) and without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
- So we must read the word and remind ourselves of who God truly is. Just like Isaiah reminds them about God’s character and Jesus reminds Martha. Isaiah mentions four truths or characteristics about God, which are very important.
- Everlasting God – The LORD – The One who has no beginning and no end. Everything that came after Him depends on Him, for He is the fountain of life. Creator of the ends of the earth. He never changes; He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
- Creator of the ends of the earth: By His power everything was made that was made. He has the means to create and change things and circumstances at any time as He pleases.
- He never faints nor is weary: His leadership is perfect. He is never late, though He tarries wait for Him for He will not tarry (Habakkuk 2:3). His timing is perfect and no circumstance is too difficult for Him to move. He possesses unending strength.
- His understanding is unsearchable: The depths of riches and wisdom belong to Him (Romans 11:33-36); His ways are so much higher and greater than our ways. He knows everything.
- Those who truly know God are the ones that are able to trust in Him on any circumstance. Trust only comes with knowing, we only fully trust someone whom we are very close with and have known for a while. Out of the place of intimacy comes trust.
- Mary knew Jesus’ character and Paul also knew God. That is why through trials they never doubted God or His character.
- We will only be able to trust God and lean on Him if we know Him intimately. No circumstance should shake us to the point of doubting God’s character if we truly know and have experienced Him in a personal way.
The importance of waiting
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, 31but those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
- We are all weak and broken. Sometimes even a small problem may come upon us and put us down, get us upset and make us feel weary and in need of help.
- Isaiah tells us that “those who wait on the LORD” are the ones that have their strength renewed. When we wait we are actively seeking God to move on our behalf, we are constantly hoping and trusting that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
- Waiting on the LORD means to embrace weakness and believe in His strength, knowing that His grace is sufficient for us and He will move at the right time.
- As we choose to wait we are being challenged to live by faith, believing that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb.11:6).
- Martha had lost hope and faith. But Mary waited on Jesus. She was sitting waiting for Him to come, with expectation and with the assurance that He would actually come and change things. And He did!
His love is our assurance
- God does not forsake us, He is with us even when it seems like we are all alone. He never leaves, when we are weak He shows Himself strong.
- Through every season and in all circumstance we may rest assured that He loves us and cares for us. His love will carry us when our strength is gone and our hope is about to come to an end. His love is our assurance.
6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter:6-7)
35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? …Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35-39)
May the Lord bless you!
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