You may be happy, healthy and on top of the world right now. If so, you probably do not need this message. But if you are feeling down for some reason, under a load of grief or pain, loneliness or suffering, this message is for you.
Very saintly Christians sometimes experience trials so heavy that they wonder if God is letting them hurt more than they can bear. Their heartbreak almost crushes them and they are on the brink of despair. Great men and women of faith have experienced dark and deep trials but God has brought them through to victory because they put their trust in him.
God still permits testing times, times during which the soul is permitted to go through a fiery trial which, according to God’s Word, is to try us. “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange things happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). The prophet Jeremiah predicted that saints of God would be tried by fire: “Behold, I will refine them and try them” (Jeremiah 9:7).
Any spiritual growth that takes place in our life will always be accompanied by trials, for “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). While it is natural for us to want to shield ourselves from difficulties, it is an act of faith to entrust all our circumstances to our loving Father.
Avoid Christians who say to you, “If you were really standing on the promises of God and living by faith, you would always be happy and prosperous. You should be praising God and smiling and rejoicing. You must not have a negative mind.”
Not so! What you have is faith that God will never leave you or forsake you, even in your darkest hour. God is always God, He is still on the throne and he hears and answers your prayer. He cares about you and his promises will never fail you. Quietly wait on the Lord to bring you out into a safe place!
“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). It is possible to turn your life around and discover a life of joy and peace beyond anything yet known. One of the keys to doing this is to learn once and for all that you cannot depend upon someone else for your happiness.
Those who lean on the arm of flesh are digging wells that cannot hold water. They constantly need someone to pour advice into them, or give counsel or encourage them. But they cannot hold these things because they are broken cisterns. Jesus says, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
The Holy Spirit knows and sees all and He alone has the answers you need. Of course, godly counsel and Christian psychologists are good and can be very helpful at times, but any godly counsel should bring you to this absolute truth: no other human being can be your source of happiness and peace.
There is a great, indescribable power living within you wanting to break forth and there are many, many scriptures to support this notion. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37). “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).
Is Jesus the lord of your life? Then you do not have to wait for some special revelation. You are ready to walk in the fullness of the Spirit the moment you confess him as lord and follow him absolutely. “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:9). What a glorious promise!
Too often Christians want to keep the Holy Spirit confined to their own small world but Jesus said he would pour out his Spirit on all flesh; not just believers but nonbelievers, as well. “I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh” (Acts 2:17). Jesus associated with sinners and ministered to them. Today, the Holy Spirit seeks to lead sinners into all truth, to convict of sin and comfort those who need it most.
The Holy Spirit is Christ’s leading evangelist. “I will shake all nations” (Haggai 2:7). “Whose voice then shook the earth … ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven’” (Hebrews 12:26). He is already at work everywhere Christ sends us, so do not ever be surprised when you go into impossible situations and see his handiwork.
The Holy Spirit is never shocked by what he sees — he came to bring life to those who are dead in sin and living in broken conditions. He is the very breath of God, convicting of sin but not condemning, rebuking or moralizing. We must preach that he is everywhere and working on everybody.
The Holy Spirit responds to a hungry heart but he also comes to those who have not even called upon God’s name. “I was found by those who did not seek Me” (Isaiah 65:1). He will actually enter the dreams of sinners and give them visions. We may think that all dreams and visions are given to Christians but that is not so. Some sinners have recurring dreams in which the Holy Spirit shows them what they could be, what life could be like if they came to Christ. The Word says, “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh … Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28). The Holy Spirit is doing this miraculous work right now all over the world, healing and bringing people to Christ.
If you are going to be used by the Spirit, you must expand your world and take off all limitations trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit!
What are some of the ways you know God’s favor is on you? You woke up this morning; you were able to take deep, cleansing breaths; you have people in your life who love you — and you have met a Savior named Jesus Christ. Do you feel Jesus walking with you today? Is he talking with you, caring for you, providing for you, giving you strength, smiling on you? All these things are but a portion of the fullness of his favor. Yes, definitely, God’s favor is on your life!
There are two schools of thought regarding God’s favor: one side says Christians should have the very best of everything at all times (the Rolls Royce, the mansion, the constant joy) and the other side expects constant struggle, suffering, pain and hardship. Neither extreme should become our mentality or our experience.
God is a good, loving Father and he gives good gifts to his children; in other words, he loves to bless us. Any natural father or grandfather wants his children to be able to have a good home, ample provision, good schools and good health. But if they should encounter struggles of some sort, he wants them to have strength and fortitude to withstand adversity. He does not step in and coddle and fight their battles for them.
Likewise, God does not pour “things” out on his children all the time just because we ask; and, in fact, sometimes he even has to discipline us. But we can be assured that his father heart understands all we are going through and he expresses his favor by pouring out his grace as we grow in him.
God is for you and not against you! “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
The ultimate, extravagant favor of God is his presence in your life, working for you, supporting you, loving you at all times.
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
We would be wise to consider these words spoken by Jesus to His disciples, bearing in mind that in this life, we will have tribulation, trials, difficulties, opposition, sorrow, and sometimes even depression. We will be falsely accused, even slandered, yet we can be of good cheer because of the promise of God that no matter how dark the days may become, we are going to make it to the finish line. Remember, Jesus has already won the victory for us!
Although victory is assured, we are not exempt from fighting the battle that is currently before us. We are guaranteed that at the end of this life, we are going to sit with Jesus, ruling and reigning with him. We are going to have a mansion in glory and walk on streets of gold. We will stand before the throne of God, and we will hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things, so I will make you ruler over many things. Enter now into the joy of the Lord!” (see Matthew 25:21). But we still have battles to fight.
One of the reasons we have tribulation in this world is because it is often the only way people around us will ever know that God is real. You and I have to walk through the same fire, the same flood, the same difficult days as everybody else. However, the difference is that we have an inner source of strength that will carry us through and give us a song.
The psalmist David wrote, “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit … and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth” (Psalm 40:2-3).
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.