Hold On



God calls us to the mountaintops with Him! As exciting as this invitation is and as much as we want to join him right away, there is a catch. In order to climb the mountain, training is required. God doesn’t want us to atrophy physically, emotionally, or spiritually. His desire is that we progress from strength to strength, faith to faith, and glory to glory.

There are many stories in the Bible of men and women who proved that hard times refined them into better versions of themselves. Consider Jonah. After trying to escape the Lord’s command to preach to Nineveh, he boarded a ship hoping to sail far away from God and the responsibility he was given. 

He quickly learned that you can’t hide from an omnipotent and omnipresent God. As the waves rose around the ship and overwhelmed the crew, the sailors were forced to throw Jonah overboard. God in His mercy sent a large fish to swallow him and that’s where Jonah stayed for three long days before he was forcefully vomited onto the shore. What a sight he must have been! Can you imagine what bathing in stomach acid for three days would do to the skin? There is no doubt that pain was a part of this rescue, but Jonah emerged a better man on the other side. He was now ready and willing to be obedient to God’s will and His mission. Instead of running from God, he was now running toward the assignment God amazingly still trusted him to complete. His heart was humbled, his faith in God strengthened, and his character refined.

The same can be said of Joseph. At just 17 years old he was abandoned by his own brothers and sold into slavery. For years he was a slave in Potipher’s house until he was falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison without a trial. I’m sure Joseph didn’t understand “why” when he was at the lowest point of his story, but it was during this time that God equipped him with the emotional, physical, and spiritual strength he needed to become a leader.

When he was finally released, he was a man who now humbly walked with His God. The character he developed during this painful chapter of his life empowered him to handle the assignment God foresaw for him. Rather than suffering alone in a dark, cold prison cell, Joseph was elevated to royalty in Pharaoh’s house as a top leader in Egypt—second only to Pharaoh! His ability to respond to difficulty, anger, pain, and confusion prepared him to be a strategic leader during a severe famine. His obedience spared thousands of lives from dying of starvation–including his family who betrayed him. As Joseph looked back on his life, he understood that the pain was worth the rescue when he said:

“What the enemy intended for harm, God intended for good, for the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

It seems that with great callings come great preparation. 

The lives of both Jonah and Joseph have aspects that foreshadow Jesus, a man of sorrows who understood a thing or two about suffering. In order to redeem us, He had to enter into our humanity and our pain. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and it’s by His wounds that we are healed (see Isaiah 53). 

Jesus endured until the end and trusted the Father’s plan, even in the midst of unspeakable pain. The Bible tells us that, “Although He was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.” Hebrews 5:8-9.

As believers, we should be very thankful for both His grit and His grace. We would all be forever lost and separated from God if it weren’t for His ultimate rescue plan!