I once read a story about a famous Russian writer who was imprisoned because of his religious convictions. The conditions in the labor camp he was in were so intolerable that he eventually began to contemplate suicide. When he realized that his faith in God would not allow it, he began formulating a plan of escape that would cause him to be shot by the prison guards. Without being told about the writer's intentions, a fellow inmate approached him and drew a cross on the ground. Acknowledging that it was a message from God, the writer abandoned his plan of escape and entrusted himself to the Lord. What he didn't know was that people all over the world were praying for his freedom, and just three days later, he was released from prison.
Maybe you've heard the old saying--"It's always darkest before the dawn." I believe that statement often holds true. It certainly did in the case of the Russian writer. It's no coincidence that right before his deliverance came, the temptation for him to lose faith in God became unbearable. These are the kinds of tactics that Satan uses to try to convince believers to abandon their faith and hope in God so that their victory will be delayed or even thwarted entirely. That's why the Bible says: "Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that He has promised." (Hebrews 10:35-36 NLT) The devil knows that if he can send enough discouragement and despair your way, you'll be more likely to quit and give up on trusting in God and His plans for you.
Years ago, I began making little notations in my Bible each time the Lord spoke an encouraging verse or promise to me in my times of trouble. These notes reveal that in many cases, right before my breakthrough came, the devil broke out his heaviest artillery in an attempt to pressure me to take my eyes off of God and to put them on my circumstances. Sometimes, like in the Russian writer's case, there were only a few days between my deepest despair and my deliverance. If that man had been aware of his imminent release, he would not have been so tempted to abandon his confidence in God. But he DIDN'T know. And you and I usually don't know, either. The Lord often chooses to do His work on our behalf behind the scenes. By doing things this way, He stretches and builds our faith and trust in Him, and He prepares us for the blessings and promotions He has in store for us.
For me, the thing that stands out most about this man's story is the price he would have paid if he had stopped trusting God. He would have lost his life and missed out on witnessing God's awesome rescue operation on his behalf. What will it cost YOU if you fail to trust God in the hard places you're in right now? It's my sincere hope that you will settle down and trust God, as the Russian writer did that fateful day. Who knows? Your deliverance could be only three days away.
Prayer: Lord, when I'm tempted to cast away my confidence in You and Your perfect plans for me, remind me of how high the cost to me could be. Increase my trust in You daily, and help me to do my part by seeking You with all my heart. Thank You for the rich rewards my faithfulness with bring!
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