“God creates out of nothing. Therefore, until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him.” – Martin Luther
I recently completed watching Cecil B. DeMille’s story of Moses and in one particular scene of the movie, it shows Moses as he’s struggling through the desert when he departed from Egypt to flee to the land of Midian. During that entire scene of watching Moses being weary, deadly tired, thirsty, and literally at the end of his rope, Cecil B. DeMille gives this whole monologue about what the Lord was doing with him. He explains how God was grinding him to powder, to make him into the man he wanted him to be until nothing was left, except a man that the Lord could use. It is a very powerful scene if you understand, by your own experience, what Moses was going through at that time.
God does not often move fast, but many times He moves painfully slow. We see many times in the Bible how men and women of God were often afflicted and taken through the fire by circumstances that were often not even their own fault or doing. If you take a look at Joseph in the book of Genesis, he did not do anything wrong, but because of the jealousy of his brothers concerning their father’s love for him over them, he was mocked, thrown into a pit, and sold as a slave. He did not deserve to be thrown into a pit and sold as a slave, but he was. Why? Because God had a greater purpose for him than he even had for himself and God gave him a glimpse of this in the dreams he had before it all happened (Genesis 37). The Lord was going to use Joseph to save the lives of millions of people during the famine that would be coming to the land. Did Joseph know the famine was coming? No, But God did (Genesis 50:19-20).
But it doesn’t end there. On top of being thrown into the pit and sold as a slave, Joseph came to find somewhat of a stable life running Potiphar’s house. However, he was accused of something that he was not even guilty of (Genesis 39). In fact, he was completely innocent, honorable even, but because of Potiphar’s wife, Joseph was thrown in prison. Why did God allow that to happen? It would seem at this point as if God was unloving and downright cruel. Why would He make someone suffer so much who did not even do anything wrong? Why would Joseph be afflicted for doing the right thing? Joseph was an upright man, who was afflicted. It doesn’t make any sense to us, but often the Lord will allow things to happen that do not make any sense to us at times. Just ask Job.
Little did Joseph know that in his despair and misery, God’s grand design was being played out. And so it is with us. I’m sure Joseph was bitter at times. I’m sure he thought that the Lord had abandoned him. Who wouldn’t? Yet, God was molding him into the man He needed him to be to fulfill the work He was planning for him to do. Joseph didn’t know that in that prison cell he would interpret a dream for Pharaoh’s Baker and Butler and that ultimately that interpretation would bring him forth as the second highest ruler in the kingdom of Egypt under Pharaoh.
Look at Daniel. He was an upright man, who served the Lord faithfully and he ended up being thrown in the Lion’s den (Daniel 6).
Look at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they were upright men who would not bow down to the golden image as the king commanded and they ended up being thrown into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3).
Look at Elijah, who was a faithful prophet of God, but had to flee for his life because of Jezebel threatened to kill him. (I Kings 19) He never denied his God. Yet, he was the one who was forced to flee.
Look at Esther. It was not her fault that she was born Jewish and that Haman was trying to kill all her people, but she was the one who was called upon to intervene on behalf of the Jews and fasted and prayed for three days in order to try and save them. She didn’t know if the king would accept her and stretch out his scepter to receive her or not, but she had to stand in the gap for her people. She was the one whose life could have been taken, but she was faithful to God.
It does not always seem right to us or just that the righteous must suffer. It does not seem fair that the wicked prosper while the righteous are often punished or persecuted. God’s grand design does not seem so grand when you’re going through the fire, but that is why He is God and we are not. Often times, the most beautiful things come out of suffering. If you look at hymns such as Amazing Grace or It Is Well With My Soul or others, you should know that some of the most beautiful works of songwriting were birthed out of very sorrowful circumstances and testimonies. Millions of people across the world worship the Lord with these beautiful hymns because someone had to suffer to be able to pen them.
I heard a quote from Aeschylus once that said, “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” Trusting God during these times is hard. Wisdom usually never comes by traveling an easy road. Gold is brought forth through the fire so that it may be purged and refined and come forth as “pure” gold in righteousness (Malachi 3:3). Many times the Lord takes us through the fire so that we can learn what we otherwise could not have learned. He allows things to happen so we can have the right perspective on things that we would have never thought about before. The Lord allows us to feel pain so we can have a heart for people that we would never have otherwise had a heart for, and most importantly, so we can die to ourselves that we might live and cleave unto Christ (John 3:30).
Some of you reading this article may find what I am talking about extremely foreign. Others may find this an answer to prayer and “spot on” in your heart because you understand by testimony what I am saying. Often, your circumstances will dictate your understanding.
I remember one time I received a book, that had I read it at the time I received it, I would have had no clue what it was talking about. However, after I went through one of the biggest trials of my life and then read the book, it made complete sense.
Some of you might come back to this article years from now and finally get its meaning, but only after the Lord takes you through some times of suffering. During times of struggle and a hardship remember that even though you do not see why or fully understand, God knows what He is doing. After all, He is God and we are not. He is more than able to bring you through. Keep that quote from the beginning of this article in your mind. “God creates out of nothing. Therefore, until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him.”
God is creating something beautiful and something new in you just as the caterpillar must be formed into a cocoon for a time so it can turn into a beautiful butterfly. The cocoon can almost symbolize the death process of dying to yourself. It’s a state in which one seems to be dead with no life, but the Creator, in His wisdom, knows that behind this death is the life of a beautiful butterfly just waiting to spring forth. “…Behold, I make all things new…” the Bible says in Revelation 21:5.
Some of you are in the cocoon right now waiting, hoping, and praying for that new life to spring forth and it doesn’t always happen right away. In fact, more often than not, the process is painfully slow. We read in the Bible many times how 40 years passes in one sentence. One! Do you realize how long 40 years is? That is a long time to read in only one sentence of the Bible.
We need to place our trust in God and no one else (Proverbs 3:5-6). He and He alone is the only One who will never let you down. During times of struggle and sorrow we cleave unto Him. Would we have likely done so as strongly if we did not find ourselves in a suffering state? Do you see how God can use the outcome of your current situation for His glory? Indeed He can.
During these times we look to Him as being solely number one and really mean it in our hearts because there’s no one else but Him. Christ is all, and in all, as the Bible says in Colossians 3:11. So, where you stand today, as hard as it may be, remember, this is not always where you will sit. The Bible says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” We need to trust that God ultimately knows what best for us in the end. Hold on to that promise, even though it may be hard, and watch and see what God will do.