Most of the time, this is a really difficult thing to do when you’ve been through a tragedy of some kind, or just a lot of stress. You can find yourself shaken by what you see, and start to forget that you’ve been through something like this before. I think that’s the absolute worse, when you know how to get out of a situation, but it’s like your frozen in place. Or, you can’t remember how you came this far, so it feels like you’re starting from scratch. So many times in my own life I’ve been tested in the same fire, getting burned in all the same places. I have had to come of with a plan of action (or a good habit) that will help me through it every time. Having a plan is necessary in every season of your life in my opinion. It’s not paranoia, it’s just preparation. God wants us to be prepared to pass some tests once, twice, and sometimes three times. Each time, I believe it’s our job to know how to handle the situations that makes us feel completely helpless. but we are not without instruction.
There’s a verse in the word of God that says, “For whatsoever things were aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) This is basically saying that what was written in the past was written for us in the future, so that we wouldn’t give up when things get hard. Sometimes we struggle and strain through this life, forgetting that we don’t have to. Or, we can think some of the scriptures don’t apply to us, and think we’re being punished. But the truth is, God never causes bad things to happen to us, it’s because of the sin in this world that disaster strikes. God did promise though that despite that he would take all of our sorrow, and turn it into something good. If you don’t believe me, it’s in Jeremiah 29:11-14. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” The Israelites were in a time of exile because they had brought it upon themselves by refusing to listen to God’s warnings time and time again. God didn’t want it to happen, but he used it to change their hearts. If we were to take these scriptures and apply them to our modern-day lives, exile might mean sickness, unemployment, rejection from school, or even divorce. We prove what we’re really believe by our actions in the midst of these things. I know people who’ve gone through cancer more than once, and their reaction to the news is calm. They’re positive that God is going to restore them, when they could just freak out and lose faith. This is because they haven’t forgotten the last time, which is that he took care of it the last time around. Adam and Eve forgot what they knew in one second. God told them the truth, but they chose to listen to a lie in all their confusion. They lost it all because of doubt.
I was talking to my brother earlier this week, and he was telling me a story about a girl who was having computer trouble. My brother is somewhat of a “computer geek”, and he’s VERY proud of it. He can fix pretty much anything, from downloading new software, to create other accounts. But one thing he loves to do, is watch YouTube videos on mistakes people have made, so he can learn from them. Apparently, the girl was having difficulty wiping out a virus, and decided that the only way to get rid of it was to delete the system files. This made my brother delirious. He started talking about how this is the dumbest thing anyone could ever do, and that deleting those files would erase all the memory. The system files hold everything together. That means all your pictures, notes, reminders, and apps would be gone. It would return to its factory settings. He then proceeds to tell me that the girl had done this once before, and that after getting it fixed, she made the same mistake again. Her friends told her it was a good idea, but my brother implied that they were purposefully leading her astray. So after hearing all of his “technical talk” (I’m very good at using computers but can’t talk about it as fast he can), I asked what the best way would be to get the virus off without ruining the good stuff. He said that finding the root of the virus and deleting THAT would work, but you have to be sure that nothing is corrupted, or the computer won’t even remember how it used to function in it’s factory settings. I felt something on the inside as he continued on, and I realized that there was a connection here. I tend to see a lot things in life as a metaphor, and it’s for that reason that I ran to write this down as soon as he was done speaking:
- System Files – Good (Word of God)
- Virus – Bad (Devil)
- Don’t delete the system files; it returns to factory settings.
- Don’t listen to EVERY idea that people suggest.
We are exactly like these devices we use every single day. Most of us who have kids or who were kids in the past 15 years remember the movie “Finding Nemo”. The story was about a fish named Marlin trying to find his son, who ran off into the more dangerous part of the sea, and got captured by fisherman. Along the way, he meets a friend named Dory. Dory is very special in that she can’t remember anything after two seconds. So her and Marlin would agree on going one way to find Nemo, only for her to forget who Marlin was and what they were doing together. This was one of the funniest parts of the movie for me, but I do empathize with her handicap a great deal. She’s not bad, she just forgets what’s most important at the time when she really needs it. Sometimes as humans, we forget God. But without God, it is impossible for us to function. We may think we’re getting along just fine for awhile, until we hit a problem we can’t solve on our own. A virus infects us. The only thing to do at then is return our point of reference, and quote it over our lives every day to “delete the virus”. We need the word of God to breath life into us, God NEVER meant for us to go without it.
For myself, it’s been a time of deleting many “viruses” and putting into practice everything I’ve learned. It hasn’t been easy, but one thing I pray to God for constantly is endurance. The ability to finish the race. There was one time when I really felt hopeless, and I had my hands on the Bible, praying for a word of encouragement, and God gave me 1 Corinthians 10:13. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” The NIV translation says “endure it”. That has been my word through many harsh circumstances in my life. I keep it in my heart, and repeat to myself over and over because that’s how it gets down in our spirit. So I would encourage anyone who is suffering right now from an insufficient “capital of advantage”, you’re not alone. This season may seem like it’s going on forever, but don’t give in to despair. Give in to faith. Be encouraged that when this passes, you’ll come out stronger, able to encourage someone else being tested in this same you were. Don’t shut down like the kid who’s studied all week for a test, but gets test anxiety. You know much more than you think!