The collection of “Songs of Ascent” begins appropriately with the song of a faithful worshipper who is far away from the temple among pagan people – people who hate truth and love war.
Do you know what it is like to feel out of place? Alone in your convictions? Under the attack of a lying tongue?
As the travelers sing about persecution on their pilgrimage to Zion (the mountain of God), so too, we find ourselves alone or under attack as we seek to honor Him.
God’s Word doesn’t toss out a lot of promises that, as Christians, our troubles are going to go away – that our enemies will come around and begin to see things from our perspective. It doesn’t promise that you won’t have times where you feel very, very, very alone in your convictions or that the “warrior’s sharp arrows” won’t sting and the “glowing coals” won’t burn.
But you know what God’s Word does say about persecution? God tells us that it’s a cause for celebration!
Romans 5:3-5 doesn’t tell us that our suffering will be over soon, or that our enemies will get old and ugly and miserable. Nope. In fact, they might prosper for a very. long. season.
Instead, God promises something better – something eternal:
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope.”
Man. It all makes sense on paper, but is it hard for anyone else to think in terms of eternity when the liar is prospering, when your loved ones are hurting, and your integrity seems to be running you into the ground? I’ll be honest, when the world is feeling particularly painful, it’s a real struggle for me to think in terms of celebration.
I just want the mean guys to lose!
And the Holy Spirit – ever faithful, ever gentle – realigns my heart and reminds me of that four-letter word.
It’s what the Israelites had as they began their journey to the mountain of God.
It’s what I had when I woke up this morning, and what I will have when I climb into bed tonight.
Hope is our good gift – our reward – from our great and loving God. And it comes out of suffering.
Not only does the Bible give us a promise – it give us proof! You know Whose suffering produced the greatest Hope of all, don’t you?
Let’s stand firm today on the Word of God today, sisters. Walking toward Him. Seeking Him. Perhaps feeling alone, yet never really alone. Dare we suffer with a skip in our steps? Dare we actually rejoice when we suffer persecutions?
His hope is real. It is promised. It is proven.