The first is a promise from God, the second means that with the promise comes joy, even in the difficult times.
Let me back up for a moment.
I’ve always believed in God. I have prayed to Him my whole life, and at times, I’ve even begged Him for help.
But I didn’t know Him.
I didn’t know Him as my God who wanted to spend time with me, and I certainly didn’t know how to spend time with Him. I went to God when I needed His help, but I didn’t spend time with Him—through the good and the bad times. There is a difference.
I have no doubt God got my family through the rough times all those years ago. Without Him, life would have turned out much differently. I just don’t remember hearing from God when I was young. I’m not saying He didn’t speak to me or try to get my attention. But I didn’t know what to listen for or how to hear Him.
Fast forward to the present.
God has walked with me through many trials. I’ve felt His presence and heard His voice. And during the times God choses to remain silent, I still know He’s there…because I know He promises to never leave.
Back then, I didn’t know how to walk with God and let Him get me through. I was surviving because I had to, but I felt alone the entire way.
Now it is a very different story. The issues and situations are no less painful than they were back then, but facing them with God makes the journey one in which I can even find joy—joy in knowing that God is at work. I can feel Him and see Him at work.
Does living in Christ mean there will no longer be trying times? No, not at all. It means that I’m not going through it alone.
Living in Christ allows me to see God’s blessings along the way, even when I’m going through something I would never wish on anyone else.
Knowing God’s voice and presence means I can focus on Him instead of the chaos around me. I’m human, though, and it’s easy to lose my focus. But now, it’s easier to hear His voice when He says, “Laura, over here. Look at Me.”
Living life with Him enables me to see how I’ve grown and changed, much of it happening during the bad times.
My memories of recent trials include times of His comfort and guidance. Yes, I still remember the bad stuff, but it’s diluted with the joy I’ve found in Christ. While my memories of the long ago past focus on the hurt, anger, and hatred during that time.
What a difference! Back then I didn’t know God’s comfort or love. Now, I lean into Him because I can’t get enough.
In this life we will have trouble, but even through the trouble, we can find joy in our relationship with Christ.
Undeniable joy—the kind that can be hard to explain, but when you feel it—you know it.
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 NLT
Linking up with Holley Gerth, Jennifer at #TellHisStory, Winsome Wednesday, WholeHearted Home, Thought Provoking Thursday, and Faith Filled Friday.
Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis