Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Have you ever had to give up something you wanted very badly, for the sake of another or for the greater good? I was thrust into this my freshman year of college, and I was not happy about it. I had something very dear to my heart taken from me, a little at a time at first, and finally altogether...for an entire summer. I knew this happening was God's will, but it didn't make the sacrifice any easier. Near the end of the summer, I stumbled across Psalm 4:5, and it totally changed my perspective.
Unless you're a new reader, you've probably figured out what scenario I'm talking about. The sacrifice I was called upon to make was Tim. After our school asked him to be on GloryBound, he traveled every couple of weekends to churches in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. Soon enough the real test came, and he traveled the entire East Coast with GloryBound. That summer was one of the hardest times in my entire life.
We are all asked to make difficult sacrifices. Why does God always ask us to sacrifice our most precious possessions? Abraham must have thought the same thing. Perhaps it is to bring us to the realization that those things we call "ours" aren't really ours to begin with -- they are God's. Perhaps it is to teach us to rely on God for joy and strength, instead of leaning on the spirituality of another. Whatever the case may be, God assures us in Psalm 4 that even though offering sacrifices of righteousness is never easy, it's always worth it.
At a youth conference I heard a simple quote, "Brag on God, do what's right, and things will get better." Even if you are in the middle of a painful circumstance, you have the capability to honor God in your speech and actions. It is a sacrifice, but God calls it righteousness (Psalm 4:5). That's motivation enough for me to at least try to do obey Him in the middle of a trial.
The second part of the verse instructs us to put our trust in the Lord, which isn't exactly easy when the ground is crumbling underneath your feet. It's so easy to try and put matters into our own hands, but is that a realistic aspiration? Even if you could control your situation, there's nothing you can do that God can't do better! Psalm 118:8 says blatantly, "It is better to put trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." The greatest part about it all is, it's worth the sacrifice! Here's how it works:
Offer sacrifices of righteousness + put your trust in the Lord = Thou hast put GLADNESS in my heart!
That's right, someday all those tears are going to come back as joy (Psalm 126:2, 5-6). Sacrificing his beloved son was not what Abraham bargained for, but was certainly worth it. Abraham experienced first-hand how God provides for us and he even got Issac back, unharmed! Oftentimes God asks us to sacrifice in order to give us something better. Tim was more prepared for the ministry at the end of the summer than he was at the beginning. He learned countless lessons during the summer he couldn't have at home, and to me, that's worth it.
If you see yourself approaching a difficult time or find yourself smack dab in the middle of a storm, you might discover that you must make a few sacrifices. Understand that God has everything under perfect control, and that you can rest in Him while you wait on Him. Things will get better, and it will be worth it.