– Charles Swindoll
End of Ourselves
The Apostle Paul tells us part of the reason that we go through the storms of life. He wrote to the Corinthians, telling them “we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2nd Cor 1:8), however “that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2nd Cor 1:9b). First, we have to come to an end of our own self, recognizing we can do nothing without Christ (John 15:5).
Reliance on God
The second thing that Paul said was that his adversities and afflictions taught his missionary party not rely on themselves, “but on God,” Who if necessary, “raises the dead.” The Old Testament saints already realized this, but so did wise King Jehoshaphat, who said to Judah during a time threatened destruction from a great multitude of nations (2nd Chron 20:1-2), “Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s” (2nd Chron 20:15b). God has not changed. The battle is still His.
Faith is like film in the sense that it’s best developed in the dark, because it takes little faith to walk in the light. The greatest test of a person’s character is to live a life of obedience, when nobody’s watching. Of course God is watching, but character is revealed when no one can see you. Even in the so-called “dark night of the soul,” your faith is only as strong as the Object of your faith, and that is Jesus Christ.
Feast in Famine
I seeing the same pattern when hearing from missionaries who see so many Christian’s suffer so much from poverty and persecution. What they say is that some lose their jobs, some lose their possessions, some lose their homes, some lose their families (being shunned), and some even lose their lives, but for these hurting people, they realize that when Christ is all you have, Christ is all you need. They have feast amidst the famine. They have nothing but Christ yet they have everything in Him (John 3:16; 2nd Cor 5:21)!
We have some huge 100 year plus hardwood trees in our yard and these trees have gone through some droughts before, but during a recent drought over an extended period of years, some of the younger trees began to die off. That’s because their roots weren’t used to drought like the older trees were. They had deep roots shooting far below the earth, and reaching down into the water table. The years of winds and drought actually helped the older trees because their massive roots were already prepared for an extended period of drought.
If our periods of wandering in a wilderness and in a dry land in our lives teaches us anything, let it teach us to come to an end of ourselves; to depend upon God; to understand that we’re developing our faith; that Christ is all we really need; and that should send our taproot down to the solid bedrock of the Living Water, which is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.