If you looked back on the past year, you would probably notice that there were good times and bad times. We tend to think that life should always be great but its not. Life is full of ups and downs and that’s normal. There are ups and downs in every relationship too. The ups and downs are a fact of life like the cycles of day and night, summer and winter. Could it be that the difficult times are actually a necessary part of our journey of life?
The journey of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the promised land of Canaan tells us a lot about our own inner life journey. They could have gone straight there in the space of a month. Instead they wandered in the wilderness for forty years encountering obstacles all along the way. There would be a crisis when they were filled with doubt followed by victory and trust in God, then more hardship and doubt followed by renewed trust in God. It’s the same with us. The hardships and struggles we endure are actually opportunities to overcome the things in us that are getting in the way of our progress. God has lessons to teach us every step of the way. It is not what happens to us but how we react that matters. Eventually we learn to trust that God is in control, is watching over us and wanting to bring us into closer relationship with Himself – into true happiness. It is in times of crisis that our shortcomings (the obstacles to our happiness) are brought to our attention so that they can be remedied.
When the children of Israel finally escaped Egypt they probably thought they had an easy journey to the promised land but soon found their way blocked by the Red Sea. It seemed a hopeless situation with no way forward and the Egyptian army hard on their heels. But God spoke to Moses and told them to “Go forward!” It seems like God asks us to do the impossible sometimes but, when the Children of Israel obeyed the command a miracle happened. The sea parted and allowed safe passage to the other side then closed in on the pursuing enemy.
Going forward is the opposite of giving up. It is looking outward not inward. It is focusing on useful activity – on what needs to be done. When we step out in faith we find that God really is in control and He will find a way. We learn to trust. According to the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, all life flows in. Every good thought and feeling comes from God. So trust is not something that we manufacture for ourselves, it is something we must open ourselves to receive. We do this by feeling the fear and going forward anyway to do what God would have us do, knowing He is there with us. So think of the rough times as necessary opportunities for healing, growth and opening up to trust in God. After all, God knows better than we do what is best for us.