When was the last time you found yourself in a “hard place,” not knowing which direction to turn? Perhaps you went to work, only to learn that you would be looking for a new job the next day. Maybe your doctor called you to give you bad health news personally . . . because the news was that bad. Possibly your family is in turmoil, with a child headed off to the far country or your spouse headed off to the couch.
To be sure, hard places are hard . . . hence the phrase “hard places.” But for the Christian, those places are not without hope, because whatever hard place you may find yourself in, you will find the Holy One there with you. He is the friend who loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17), the friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
God went with Moses into the hard place of Egypt to confront Pharaoh. God went with David into the hard place of taking on Goliath. God went with Peter into the hard place of his courtyard denials of Jesus. God went with the apostle Paul into the hard place of preaching to his pharisaical friends.
Often we are brought into these hard places to wean our hard hearts away from self-love to Savior love. The hard places are designed to teach us to depend more on God than we do on ourselves. Moses had to depend on God when he stood before Pharaoh. David had to depend on God when he took on the giant. Peter had to depend on God to be redeemed out of his denials. And Paul had to depend on God when preaching to those he once persecuted with.
O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. (Psalm 3:1-4)
These words of the psalmist are words of comfort for all those who find themselves in the hard places of life. The foes of the faithful are many, and they will stop at nothing to turn our hearts away from God. And that is why we need to preach the Gospel to ourselves every day—to be constantly reminded that we are never alone in the hard place. And as we marinate in the truths of the Gospel, we realize that Jesus took the hardest place of all in our place. He willingly and lovingly took our lash . . . our nails . . . our cross . . . our separation from the Father.
So whatever you are facing today, and no matter how high the odds are stacked up against you, remember that Jesus is your Hope in the hard place. Let’s close with these words recorded by the prophet Jeremiah, words which bring great hope in whatever hard place we may find ourselves.
“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!