We have all tried to avoid dealing with a challenging and difficult person or situation in our lives – whether it was distracting ourselves by working too much, physically migrating to another place, using drugs or alcohol, engaging in sexual escapades and emotional binging, or doing anything in excess – sleeping, eating or exercising – we have all used escapism as an alternative solution to dealing with that challenging and difficult person or situation.
And to some degree, that way of protecting ourselves is a common and natural defence mechanism.
In the moment, ignoring or running away from the problem offers temporary relief.
But this type of relief is generally short lived.
The problem either manifests itself in another way or in another aspect of our lives or it intensifies upon its return to our lives.
The act of escapism also manifests itself in our prayer lives. When we are trying to escape or avoid dealing with a challenge or difficulty, we ask God to remove us from the situation or remove the challenge, obstacle or hardship from our path. And God rarely removes us from what we are trying escape. For, He understands that avoidance doesn’t solve anything. Escapism doesn’t solve anything. Neither does isolation.
Instead, He “keeps us” and preserves us from evil…even if we are surrounded by evil.
This almighty keeping is best captured in John 17. Just before His arrest, Jesus prayed to the Father that He will keep the disciples safe in a hostile world and guard them from Satan.
“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” (verses 14, 15)
Jesus doesn’t pray for His disciples to be taken away from the influences of evil or evil itself; neither does He pray that they will be made immune to suffering for His name’s sake. He instead simply prayed that God would “keep them”….
Keep them and preserve their peace.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26: 3
Keep them and preserve them in the middle of their hardship.
“You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.” Psalm 31:20
Keep them through the guidance of His Holy Spirit.
“The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand” (Psalm 37:23–24, TLB).
Keep them through the power of His love.
And God honoured Jesus’ prayer.
Although, the disciples each experienced a personal disaster for the cause of Christ that rocked their world, God kept their faith, peace and testimony in-tact.
I am slowly learning that one of the greatest ways God manifests His love to us is by rejecting our requests to escape a personal disaster and instead keeping our faith, peace and testimony in-tact in the midst of that personal disaster. I am also beginning to appreciate that although God may not remove the challenge from my life, He will give me the necessary mental and spiritual fortitude to pass through this challenge…and come out, stronger, wise and more dedicate to Him.
Maybe God will not remove the deep pain of losing a loved one but He will not allow your heart to break completely because of it. He may not remove the toxic boss that you have to engage with daily but He will not allow that boss to completely destroy your reputation or steal your peace and purpose. Maybe God may not bring the relationship to an end but He will give you wisdom to function within the union…differently.
Whatever personal disaster you are facing at this moment, keep this in mind: as uniquely as this disaster unfolded in your life, God will uniquely preserve you from the full intent of its unfolding. He will preserve you from evil and no evil power, no personal or physical disaster will be able to block His good purpose for your life.
I trust that when you come out on the other side of this personal apocalypse, your only words would be:
“Because of the LORD’s great love I was not consumed, for his compassions never failed me.” Lamentations 3: 22. The Almighty kept me when all else failed me or was against me.
(C) 2017, Dentrecia Blanchette