A Different (and hope-full) Take on Life’s Difficult Seasons

A Different (and hope-full) Take on Life’s Difficult Seasons

 
 
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We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

The Christian faith walk can be likened to the life of a grape. Let me explain. I once heard a pastor begin her sermon with this statement: “We are all grapes”. Her words seemed a bit comical but little did I know that I was about to hear one of the most profound sermons in what was one of my most pressing seasons. The Holy Spirit began to pierce my heart with truth and revelation, and that is my prayer for you today.

Grapes and wine are referenced several times throughout scripture, and Jesus himself used this staple of Jewish life and tradition to illustrate who he was and who we are. Once the grapes are ready on the vine, they are picked and piled into a large winepress. In ancient times this was done with their feet in shallow limestone presses. The moment the juices touch the skin of the grapes, fermentation begins. Often the presses were on a hill and the fermentation pit would be at the bottom, so all the juices would run down, where they would bubble and ferment. Let me stop and say that fermenting smells really bad.

Have you ever experienced a “crushing” in your life? A time when you felt persecution, alienation or inadequacy? Nobody likes to feel that way but the Bible says that what the enemy meant for evil, God turns it for good (Gen 50:20). In Psalm 37:25, it says that the righteous have never been abandoned nor their children begging for bread. No matter what life is throwing at you, God sees you and he WILL turn it around. Just cling to him.

Continuing, a separation of the sediments and the wine take place and then the wine would be poured into clay jars or into wineskins and would be set out of the sun for several days. Even in winemaking today, its best when the wine is placed in a sealed container in a dark room without light because of the lactic-acid bacteria, which flourishes in the dark. This can affect flavor of the wine too. In some cases, the longer the wine is stored in the dark on a shelf the better it becomes.

There have been really long seasons in my life where I was that wine and let me just say that lactic acid bacteria was flourishing hundred-fold. I felt so alone, so forgotten, so abandoned, so overlooked. It was extremely painful but by the grace of God and a community that prayed for me, I persevered and the Lord brought me out of that seven-year season. Maybe you are walking in that wilderness, maybe you sense God bringing you out of that time, or maybe you’ve never experienced a season like this before- at some point we will all experience a wilderness season BUT being on the other side of it, I would say don’t waste it. I had some profound cherished moments with the Lord in the wilderness. I wouldn’t ever want to repeat it but I know that if God so leads me, he’ll be with me.

Jesus bring new wine out of me.

In light of the wine-making process, the request for Jesus to bring new wine out of us seems a whole lot less appealing. You see part of being a disciple of Jesus is becoming like Jesus, it is picking up our cross and following after him in every area of our lives.

Being a disciple of Jesus is about loving the Lord, seeking first his Kingdom, loving our neighbor, making disciples AND as we do all these things, God, through the power of the Holy Spirit is working on making us righteous; he’s refining us. Our mindsets change, our behaviors change, our speech changes; we begin to transform from the inside out!

Maybe you are going through a hard time in this season. You’re facing some big challenges, you have some giants ahead of you, some mountains that you seem to circle, and you’re feeling like that crushed grape; you’re feeling alone and in darkness, but be encouraged. The Lord’s presence is not determined by your feelings or your ability to sense him. God is omnipresent and he is with you, you just have to call out to him. He will not turn his eyes from you, for those who are seeking him or who need him will find him.

Please don’t give up. I’ve been there before; I’ve had the mental and emotional breakdown and I know you may feel like you’re losing yourself. Seek counsel if you need to AND know that God is for you no matter what anybody says or thinks-including what you say and think over yourself.

God is at work in your life. Real change is the transformational power of his love and presence. What a witness to the world of the power of the Lord!

Jesus bring new wine out of us!

 

Father God,

Thank you for your loving kindness towards me. Before the formation of the earth, you were thinking of me. Lord, you know my thoughts, you know my desires; I choose to fix my eyes on you alone.

As difficult as it may be, I will choose to walk with you because your word says that even when I walk through the waters, you will be with me. You will make a way where there is no way, and you will deliver me. My inheritance is secure, I need not worry because I am your child, a co-heir with Christ.

Jesus would you teach me how to live like you did. Would you teach me how to walk through the wilderness? No matter the cost, I want to be so rooted in the truth of your word that I will not be shaken by the things of this world. Refine me. Transform me. I will not be crushed because you are standing at my side. The victory has been won; I need only stand and endure.

Today, I dispel the lies of the enemy and the temptation to take the easy way back to comfort that is not of God. I will not give up on you Lord because you have not given up on me. I will finish the race set before me.  I adorn my head with the helmet of salvation, and take on the mind of Christ as a son/daughter who is being sanctified daily for the glory of the Lord.

 I pray this in the mighty name of Jesus Christ! AMEN