Life is full of struggles and we need to ask if there is something we should learn from them.
Haggai 1:6 – 11
6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”
The Lord continues his message through his prophet Haggai. His people had failed to rebuild the temple and he called on them in the previous section to question their priorities so that the hope of God’s promises would take the central place in their lives.
In these verses the Lord repeats his call for them to consider their ways. He also tells them that he had been active in reminding them of their neglect for some time. The Lord tells them that the lack of productivity in their land, the drought and the lack of satisfaction in their lives were all his work to remind them that there was something very wrong.
This is not foreign to us. It is very common for people in our age to have a similar experience. Life can be filled with shattered expectations. We expect a great deal, and little comes our way. We can be filled with disappointment and burdened with deep frustration. Often, people are left wondering what is going wrong with their life. This is especially so when people seem to gain a great amount of material wealth only to find that there is no peace or joy but instead deep anxiety.
The Lord is saying here that such experiences are to gain our attention so that we can consider our ways. A typical response will be that people will dismiss such a thought and point out that the cause of our frustrations and disappointments could be from other things apart from the Lord wanting to start us thinking. That is true but we need to be clear that all too rarely do people, even Christian people, give any real consideration to the Lord providing difficulties and frustrations in our lives so that we might consider change.
We will usually search for all other solutions to our problems. Harvest not great, then find better farming methods. Food and drink not satisfying, then try more and better quality. Money seems to be disappearing, then hire a financial advisor. The Lord’s message is “think about your appreciation of the gospel.” The gospel sets our priority as knowing forgiveness for sin rather than carrying a burden of guilt. Focusing on Christ, reminds us perpetually that, in him, we have everlasting life, acceptance with our Lord for eternity. These are the matters of importance for life because they have eternal implications.
Does that mean then that we should believe in Christ so that we can live prosperously? Probably not, but it does mean that when Christ is dominating our lives, we have a proper perspective for everything else. Psalm 46 tells us that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of struggle. It goes on to tell us that whatever disasters we might face, when we rest in God’s mercy and grace, we can be still and know that God is God.
Head: Consider how easy it is to dismiss struggles in life without asking the question, does God want me to change?
Heart: Let hardships turn you to the Lord in love and dependence
Hands: When things go wrong act wisely but always with the knowledge the Lord is in control for his purposes.
Prayer: Thank you Lord that you provide security and peace for us as we rest in Jesus. Help us to have a proper perspective on life so that we depend on you for everything. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A song to listen to: Grace Awaiting Me
Living Church – Creek Road