Holding on to the Joy
Set Before Us
By Maria Fontaine
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The difficult things we face are often what enable us to reach our full potential and the purpose God has planned for our lives. This is why we need to hold on through those difficult times; we just can’t give up. Even when we don’t clearly see the path ahead, we must persevere! We may be “seeing through a glass darkly” right now, but we have His promise that one day we will see clearly, face to face.1
If we didn’t have to take anything by faith and we saw clearly the good things the Lord had in store for us right around the bend, these things that seem so difficult or trying to us now would fade into insignificance. We’d hardly notice them. We’d hardly feel them. You know how it is when you’re doing something you really enjoy; you just forget any problems you have or things that are bothering you. You hardly even remember them because you’re so absorbed in the current enjoyment. Well, if we could see the “joy” that’s up ahead—the great things that the Lord has in store for us—we wouldn’t let these problems and challenges that we’re experiencing right now bother us nearly so much.2
The Lord can’t show us by sight what’s up ahead, but He has told us in His Word that we just have to trust Him that He has great things there for us. Our faith gets tested at these times to see whether we’ll believe Him or not. If we believe Him, then the difficulties that we experience become much lighter; things won’t seem so bad and it will be easier to bear our cross. But if we didn’t have these challenges and tests, we wouldn’t learn the importance of God’s Word. We wouldn’t be desperate enough to grab hold of it for dear life, and in so doing, find that it holds us up when everything else lets us down and when everything else seems to be crashing down around us. If we didn’t have to go to the Word for faith, we wouldn’t be able to get the strength we need. If we didn’t have to go to the Word, we wouldn’t grow in our understanding of how dear and precious Jesus really is, and how much He loves us no matter what our circumstances.
When your own strength has failed, when you’re not accomplishing much for Him, when you’re ashamed of yourself and feel you can’t do anything right, that you’ve failed, that’s the time when He draws us closest to Him, and that’s the time when you learn how very much He loves you, because that’s the time when you’ve come to the end of your rope. That’s when you see that He loves you just for you, not for what you do for Him. When you’re in confusion or despair or you feel like you’ve really messed up, that’s when you see that Jesus loves you—not your works or your accomplishments or your abilities. He loves you just because you’re His.
God loves you just because you’re His child, and He sees past your failures and confusion and doubts and sins. He looks into your heart and He sees the beauty there, even if you don’t know it exists. He sees your heart’s deepest desire to love Him and to be what He wants you to be.
Even in the times of your deepest despair, He has promised to be there with you, protecting you, comforting you, and loving you. He doesn’t say that you have to accomplish great feats. He doesn’t insist that you be perfect or be good all the time. The only thing He asks you to do is to trust Him—that He’s going to keep you, protect you, and provide for you, that He’s going to make you into the man or woman of God that He has promised.
Remember that discouragement, defeat, suffering, pain, and hurt do not have to separate you from the Lord; instead, these are meant to bring you closer to Him. You have to experience the times of humbling so He can in due time exalt you.3 He uses these things to help you turn toward Him.
One of the most important things to remember is that even when you’re in the depths of despair over your circumstances or your failures, even though you’re sinking in discouragement or doubt, even when your fears are looming high in front of you and blocking your pathway, it doesn’t mean that God has failed you. It doesn’t mean that His Word has failed.
It is there in the depths that we can learn the most valuable lesson of all—that He will always be there, that He will speak to us, that His words will comfort us, and that He will be everything to us. It is often in this place that we learn to come to Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Challenging times are meant to be stepping stones to a closer walk with the Lord, and onwards to greater faith and victory! And what is victory in God’s eyes? “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.”4
He requires a lot of us, but He gives us the strength to meet those demands. He requires your all—heart, soul, body, mind, and strength. But He gives all in return. If you give Him your love, your obedience, and your life, He will give you His power and might and strength and anointing, so that you will be able to do great things for Him and others!
When we’re tempted to despair, we can count His many blessings. Count them, name them one by one, and it will thrill your heart when you see what He has done! He’s poured out His gifts, His love, and His salvation upon us. And because He’s poured it on so richly, what should we do in return? What do you do when someone gives you a valuable gift—or any gift, for that matter, even a small one? You get excited about it, and you thank them and tell them over and over how much you appreciate it!
What about the Lord and the immeasurable, unlimited, boundless gifts that He’s given His children and that He continues to give us and continues to pour upon us, trying to show us how very greatly He loves us? Don’t neglect to thank and praise the one who has given you everything, the one who continues to give you everything—the one who is your best friend, your protector, your guide, your Savior!
Originally published July 1995. Adapted and republished February 2018.
Read by Irene Quiti Vera.