So, you think you are the only one?
By Randall Vaughn, from the
"Lessons From Life" series
that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what
others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the
temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it.
When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not
give in to it." (1 Cor
"temptation" in the above Scripture is translated from the
"peirasmos", which means, "a putting to proof (by experiment [of good], experience
[of evil], solicitation, discipline or provocation); by impl.
In other words, it
can mean not only a temptation (to do evil), but it can also mean a "test".
When people find
themselves in a "test" -- a difficult (or
situation -- they often begin to feel overwhelmed,
abandoned, and alone. They may
begin to feel as though no one could possibly understand their circumstances or the pain and depression that
they are feeling.
Next, an empty sense
of isolation sets in.
Then come the
"Why is this
happening to me?" "What did I do?" "God, why don't
You DO something?" "God, HELP ME!"
But there seems to
be no answer.
After that comes a
mindset of utter hopelessness and defeat.
Finally, all hope of
overcoming the circumstances is abandoned.
I know. I have
If you have been
there, you know too. You may be there now.
(If you have never
been there, do not bother trying to understand, because you cannot.)
It is such a painful
experience to feel as though no one on the face of the earth understands you, your feelings, your
circumstances, and your pain.
above can feel very empty at such a time.
Other people may
quote that Scripture to you in an attempt to get you to "snap out of it", "get over
it", and "cheer up". They somehow
reason that you should feel
better because you are not the only one hurting. (If someone quotes that Scripture to you in that way, you can rest
assured that they have
never had to "use" it themselves.
If they had, they
would know better!)
When my wife died in
February 2000, I felt very much like the above.
Alone. Abandoned. Lost. Overwhelmed. Isolated.
I hurt as I have
never hurt before. But I couldn't stop and "indulge" my
pain because of
other circumstances at the time. I had to go on in spite of the pain. But it didn't stop the pain from coming. That
made me feel even more alone and
No one really
understood. No one really cared.
In my personal Bible
study, I read a great deal of the Old Testament. Some people shy away from it, but I find great inspiration,
example, and patterns there. I
enjoy studying the personalities and the way they related to God. The prophets are of special interest to
One day, while
reading, I came across an event in the life of Ezekiel that really got my attention.
Ezekiel is a
difficult book for some. It contains accounts of strange visions, other-worldly creatures, symbolic descriptions,
technical details, almost
impossible-to-imagine assignments from God, and more. It can be quite a challenging read.
As I read Ezekiel, I
keep in mind that Ezekiel was a real man. When God gave him some of those strange assignments, he probably thought
(much as we would), "But Lord, are you sure about this?"
Ezekiel had real
feelings. He felt real
But as I read this
day, I had no idea just how real Ezekiel's feelings would become to me. I didn't know it at the time, but I was
about to meet Ezekiel
one-on-one, "up close and personal"!
I was in chapter 24.
I read these words:
The word of the LORD
came to me: "Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away
from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed
any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban
fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover the lower part of
your face or eat the customary food of mourners." So I spoke to
the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next
morning I did as I had been commanded. (Ezek 24:15-
It was a moment I
will never forget. Those words burned into me.
in the evening my wife died". Even as I write this now, I
I knew at that
moment that at least one other person understood how I felt. I immediately bonded with this man that lived
several thousand years ago, who
endured so much, yet still maintained his integrity with God and obeyed what God told him to do. He did not have time
to grieve as others did. He had to go on. He had work to do -- for God
-- and "The next
morning [he] did as [he] had been commanded.". I understand that.
Ezekiel and I
share that pain -- and that joy. (Do not even try to
"joy" part if you have not experienced it. That is
I believe that when
I get to heaven, I will find Ezekiel, exchange a long and understanding gaze, and then we will share a long brother's
embrace that only those
who "know" can share.
You see, before my
wife died, I had to deal with a question. This question had been troubling me for some time. For a long time,
I ignored it. Later, I
rejected it. Then, one day, I realized that this question was
from God. The
question was, "What are you going to do if she
It was not about
circumstances. It was about my relationship with Him. Would I become bitter? Would I abandon Him? Would I give up?
The day I realized
that the questioner was God, I settled the answer with Him. I made a commitment. I committed to Him that
whether my wife lived or died, it would
not change my relationship with Him. My faith in Him would remain absolute. No exceptions. No conditions.
I would do whatever He asked,
just as I had promised Him years before.
I found comfort in
knowing that Ezekiel survived his ordeal. I found comfort in knowing that Ezekiel went on to do great things in
his life. I found comfort in
knowing that there was a purpose in Ezekiel's pain. It
gave me assurance
that there was a purpose in my pain as well. I found
comfort in knowing
that I was not alone. If Ezekiel survived, so could I.
As I look back on
those days, they are so very precious to me. The word
is a word that men do not use generally, but it is the only word that can describe how priceless, wonderful, and valuable
that time is to me. It is now a
great source of strength, and, yes, joy. Real
Am I a
"special case"? No. I am just a man. Just like
you. I survived. Ezekiel
survived. And if we survived our circumstances to find joy waiting on the "other side", you can too.
Are you in a
"test" now? Are you in a "difficult (or seemingly
situation"? Feeling alone? Abandoned? Isolated? Defeated?
Take comfort from
one who has been there. There IS hope. You are NOT
alone. You may
feel alone at times, but you are not alone.
We are assured that
"Even if my
father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close."
(Psa 27:10 NLT)
You will come
through your difficulty if you set your heart to trust Him. He has not abandoned you, regardless of what you may feel.
feelings are real, what you may be feeling is not
What God has
promised you IS reality. He is faithful. Trust Him.
"And surely I
am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Mat 28:20b