Friends, life isn’t easy. Now, I know this isn’t news to you. It’s just a fact. Life is not easy.
Even when we think we have things figured out, it can all change in an instant. And then, it’s a whole different story.
The last year hasn’t been the easiest year of my life. I didn’t face any major tragedies or losses, in the traditional sense. But a year ago, life looked radically different than it does now. Last year, I had recently moved to a new village in South Africa, and I was dealing with unexpected culture shock, trying to learn a new language and navigate a new culture. It was a rocky journey, but once things settled into a new normal, I began to enjoy my work and new village, and started to make a new home. I had funding lined up for a massive food security project that would carry me to the end of my Peace Corps service, and I was excited to work with the people in my village.
Then, a few months later, after a bad fall that landed me in a surgery ward in Pretoria, South Africa, I found myself on a plane back home to Iowa, wondering what in the world had just happened. I had finally found even ground in my African home, and I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. And I was left standing confused.
“You are my hiding place; You protect me from troubles and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7 NIV
Through all the pain, recovery, and readjustment to American life, the Lord was my hiding place. He helped me through the difficult times and brought me through it, more resilient than before. He became a place of refuge in a very unsettling time in my life, and He walked with me down the very rocky road. It took me awhile, but I learned to cling to Him.
I love this verse, but the Psalm as a whole isn’t as pretty. David was going through some seriously rough time when he wrote this, and he isn’t shy about illustrating just how he felt. But still, he found refuge in the Lord.
It’s worth noting, though, that it doesn’t say “I will prevent you from experiencing troubles.” In fact, the last part of the verse highlights His “songs of deliverance”.
Deliverance doesn’t come without difficulties. God never promised an easy life for us, but He does promise to never leave us. The Bible is full of examples of how He protects us from the troubles of life, and how amazing His deliverance is.
We can’t have life without the messy, troubling times. Without the valleys, how do we truly understand God’s glory when He brings us to the mountaintop? And in the difficult times, we learn and grow. Our faith is refined, and if we cling to God, it is only strengthened when tested. Going through difficulties brings us closer to God in a way that living a “perfect” life couldn’t.
It isn’t the most pleasant part of our story, but it is part of our story. And if we use the difficult times in life to grow our faith and turn to God for deliverance, only beautiful things will come of it.
God doesn’t want us to suffer alone in this world; He wants us to experience the full measure of His joy. But the journey there isn’t a smooth, straight road. It’s full of mountains and valleys, of ledges and sudden drop-offs. Yet when we hit those rough patches, He is our hiding place. He protects us, and He sings us songs of deliverance.
But are we listening?