Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. - 1 Peter 5:8-10 (NIV)
Why do I have such a hard time believing that God is good? Just this weekend God used someone close to me to teach me that the devil is alive and he will come after those who seek God at the times they are the weakest. He will catch them in a moment when their guard is down. When they think, "I've got this. No big deal," he will try to devour. And God will let him. Because we should always be alert. It's tiring, yes, but God has called us to bigger and better things.
I have asked that God refine me and prepare me for the next step, to go out to the nations and share His love. Just a reminder folks, don't pray for something if you don't mean it. Whenever I try to tell God, "Ok, ok...I get it...I've got it under control." God gently but firmly says, "You need to give this over to me. You need to let it go. We can't move forward when you are still holding onto this earthly thing. I have something bigger for you. But you have to admit you are powerless. Then I will make you strong." What a hard lesson to learn sometimes! And, man, I can be stubborn too!
But, God is good.
The verse above says that "after a little while" God will "restore you." God's timing is always so...unpredictable. Sometimes "a little while" means several years and sometimes it means just a few hours. But I always think, in my humanness, that God will drag out the teaching. He'll drag out my "punishment" if you will. I have a hard time believing the good things I receive after I have just been a sinner in my finest: I wake up reconciled with others but I still walk around on egg shells. Do I not believe that God can restore relationships? I find a message from someone I admire reaching out to connect with little ol' me. Do I not believe that God will open doors for me? Do I not believe that God is good? Do I not believe when He says He will give me "a crown of beauty instead of ashes"? Why do I always think that I deserve eternal punishment when God says, "I'm waiting for you to turn to me so I can bring you blessings"?
Wow...how sad that I do this ALL. THE. TIME. And then, worst of all, I miss out on the blessings because I'm still wallowing in the guilt of my sin.
Y'all, God is good. He loves us so much, even when we totally don't deserve it. He wants to teach us, not to punish us, but to bring us to greater joy, to draw us closer to Him, to pour out blessings. He wants us to turn away from things that look good on the outside but will end up hurting us. The next time I have a setback (and it will happen because I'm just a human being after all) I hope I remember this.