“and now, compelled by the Spirit, i am going to jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. i only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. [acts 20:22-23]
none of us knows what is going to happen to us at any given moment. we are often surprised with a pleasant gift, whether it’s a kind word or an encouraging text or an unexpected bonus at work. we are often surprised with sorrow, whether with an unexpected illness, a relationship ending, or a job loss. we can expect surprises, good and bad alike.
but often times we desire control over the unknown of the next moment, week, or season of life. we want to know what’s ahead to know if we should take a step or stay where we’re familiar, comforted by what we already know. we fear pain. we fear loss. we fear rejection. we fear failure. as believers, this is not what we’re called to. we know and believe that every moment of our lives is in the loving hands of a sovereign God, but when we walk in fear of what might be next, we are not living out of that confession. we want to be the dictator of what’s ahead.
this passage is so compelling. paul, obedient to the Spirit’s calling, is walking by faith. not faith in a certain outcome. not faith in comfort. not faith in success. but faith in a God who does not fail. faith in a God whose plan cannot be thwarted by evil men, hardships, hunger, or doubt. this God who is all powerful, knowing all things, has also promised eternal comfort, eternal joy, eternal satisfaction in his presence, eternal life. and so paul proceeds to obey, knowing that no trial here on earth can compare with the promise of an all powerful God.
for i consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. [romans 8:18]
if you knew hardship was awaiting you, would you follow the call of the Spirit?
- if you knew your child would carry a lifelong condition, would you try to get pregnant?
- if you knew your boss would fire you, would you speak up for what is right?
- if you knew it would cost you your life, would you move overseas to plant a church?
- if you knew your spouse would be so difficult to live with, would you say yes to the proposal?
- if you knew someone would eventually walk away from the Lord, slandering you in the process, would you introduce yourself and ask them to coffee?
we are promised trials in this life. why? because they turn us to the Lord. they make us desperate for the Prince of Peace. they strip us of the allusion that we can be our own God. they compel us to cast our burdens upon the Lord. They give us a longing for an eternity without sorrow or suffering, evil or pain of sin. they prepare us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. [2 cor. 4:17]
today, in the presence of a Father you know is all knowing, all wise, and all powerful, with a million good promises for his children for all of eternity, submit to him in the unknown. commit your way to him, and ask for faith to obey the calling of the Spirit. ask for true belief that leads to obedience of Christ’s commands. ask for perseverance and for supernatural strength to continue in the faith, not growing weary of doing good. he is faithful! he will surely do it!
the call is great, but the reward is greater. the trials are great, but his presence is greater.
Father, i believe! help my unbelief!
~ arwen eastman