Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance. Psalm 66:8-12
Hard seasons are normal. My prayer life operates somewhat according to the principle “a psalm a day keeps the depression away”. The 66th reveals some great truth today. It describes a difficult time had by God’s people. The section above is especially moving – and not only because “through fire and water” is how Gandalf describes his great trial in LOTR. “Through fire and water” is shorthand for the Exodus, where God led His people out of bondage into promise. But for awhile it seemed for them like it was getting worse before it was getting better. We ought not to be surprised by difficult seasons that come in our lives.
It’s hard but not wrong. Many times we react to difficult circumstances as though there is something wrong. If we were successfully following God then things would be easy, right? Wrong. Difficult seasons of life are normal for everyone, not just Christians. But many people view difficulty as an interruption to how life should be going. God stops us when we begin to think this way. Difficulty is not an interruption on the road to blessing. It is often the road itself. If we go through difficulty, there’s nothing wrong going on.
God’s hand is in it. To those who will follow Him through hard times, God makes promises. First, He promises that He will not allow them to be moved (vs 9). Then He promises that in some way He is authoring these difficulties (vs 11-12). This is not a discouragement because if God is in it, then He is working it for our good. Thirdly, He promises that there is an end in His sight. Through fire and through water, but You brought us out to rich fulfillment. That means there is incredible abundance – and much more of the Lord – on the other side. We are heading through something to something. God is changing us for it.