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Unexpected Grace Through Difficult Words

Unexpected Grace Through Difficult Words

It’s Not What I Expected

I’ve often had it said to me, “Reading a Psalm will cheer you up.” I get what others mean when they say this. The Psalms are emotional and candid. The thing is, the Psalms also have a fair amount of stuff that’s difficult to digest as well. The cynical side of me wonders, “Is something wrong with me? Am I reading a different Bible?”

If you’re like me, when you don’t gloss past the difficult stuff, you probably find God’s words to be, well, difficult. I don’t mean difficult to understand. I mean difficult to accept, difficult to process.

The imagery in Psalm 46 is so beautiful to me. Even though the very ground beneath my feet fails to support me, even though mountains are cast into the sea and tsunamis threaten to drown me in churning whirlpools of debris the size of Manhattan – even then I will not fear because God is with me. But how does the Psalm end?

Come and see the glorious works of the Lord: See how he brings destruction upon the world.

Psalm 46:8

OK … What?!

Here I am soaking in the beauty of this image of God’s faithfulness securing me in the most insecure circumstances imaginable, and the very next verse speaks of Him bringing destruction.  

My heart begins to wonder whether God is trustworthy or not. Cracks form in my trust, cracks that leak, cracks where water freezes and widens, cracks that threaten to become gaping holes in the future when I will need my trust to be a secure refuge more than ever.

While there is a pretty straightforward discussion of what this verse means in its context, I’ll save it for another post. It’s the heart’s knee-jerk reaction and our subsequent hiding that I want to highlight right now.

Skipping the Hard Stuff

Let’s continue to use Psalm 46 as an example. One of the most quoted verses in the Bible is “Be still and know that I am God.” You know you’ve heard it. You know you’ve seen it above fireplace mantles in frames with lots of decoration. But in context, God is actually saying, “Put your weapons down! Stop warring against me to make your name known instead of mine! I will utterly crush that rebellion because My name brings rescue, not yours!”

I don’t think that would look very pretty in a frame, though.

Should we be quiet and contemplative? Absolutely, and frequently at that. But I think that Exodus 14:13-14 might be a better platform for that idea. We pluck verses out of the Psalms in particular while pretending none of difficult-to-digest verses around them exist. (I’m not judging you for this. I do it too.)

It’s human nature to gloss over these passages. We all do it. Since it’s human nature to gloss over these things, it’s also human nature not to discuss them with each other. It’s human nature to kind of pretend they aren’t there. We recite the pleasant parts to one another. We memorize the easy parts with flash cards. But the challenging aspects? Those we surreptitiously stay clear of.

I’m concerned about this. If you’re anything like me, while we would never explicitly say this, this is an act of hiding. We fear addressing those scriptures might lead us to distrust God. But if there’s an area we are afraid to broach with God, then we already distrust Him.

Difficult doesn’t mean bad

Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s bad. Difficult things are good because there is a wise, loving, and powerful God near to you at all times who has already proven there is no difficulty He cannot turn into good. He led Israel into a wilderness with no food, water, or shelter? That’s difficulty we will never know. But it was not bad. God did it to fix their eyes on the fact that He always provides no matter what. That level of trust is a pleasure worth more than anything this world can provide.

Difficult is not bad. Whether it’s difficulty in life, mission, family, career, or scripture, we never need to run from it. Life doesn’t need escaping, ever. If God is truly who the Bible says He is, if He truly has power over all things, wisdom that cannot be measured, and a heart full of perfect compassion, mercy, and justice, then no level of difficulty can be beyond Him. No sea can be too tumultuous for Him to settle. No earthquake can be too violent for Him to calm.

Trust God more

It’s time to step out onto the waters of scriptures we’ve hidden from in the past. It’s time to trust God more.

This series of blog posts will help you look into the areas you dare not look at. They will help you process what you fear to process. They will help you feel free to come to God with your honest reactions to scripture, not the holy looking façade you and I hide behind so instinctively.

Did you know that God already assumes your heart is evil when you come to Him? Did you know that He already assumes you need to be cleaned? Did you know Jesus’s sacrifice is always enough to clean you fully each time you come to God? Did you know He gladly invites you in no matter where your heart is at? Read Hebrews 10:19-22, and think about what it means for your approach to God.

Now, keep reading. Verse 26 has scared more Christians into fearing they’re not saved than probably any other verse in the Bible. Isn’t it funny how the Bible juxtaposes one of the most encouraging verses with one of the most fearful? We’ll get there, don’t worry. If you’re curious, check out: How do I Know If I’m Saved.

It’s difficult, yes. But it’s not bad! Working through these difficult places will only increase your faith. Hiding from them will only harm your faith.

Trust that’s afraid to trust in certain areas is a trust you cannot rely on when life becomes unbearable. If you’re a believer, I promise life will be this way at times. We live in times right now where our hearts need a deeper trust more than ever.

Posted by Matt Norman with
Posted by Luke Thomas with

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