Ezekiel 2:6-7 “And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words; though briers and thorns are all around you and you dwell and sit among scorpions, be not afraid of their words nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.
And you shall speak My words to them whether they will hear or refuse to hear, for they are most rebellious.”
Throughout our lives we find ourselves in situations similar to that of Ezekiel, surrounded by briers and thorns and seated among scorpions. It is a hard thing to fathom that the Holy Spirit, who holds us so dear to His heart would actually choose to send us into situations that are uncomfortable, and may even draw some of our blood.
In the days of the apostles and prophets it was an expectation that if one follows God, one will find himself among some thorns (see 2 Corinthians 11:16-33). Unfortunately today many believers in our developed nations have come to the point of being so comfortable, that if anything happens against what they believe should be done, they immediately begin to question if God even exists. It used to be an expectation to suffer for the sake of the Gospel, now it is a surprise.
This is pure deception of the enemy, telling us that discomfort cannot be from God, and yet it is in times of battle and suffering that we grow the most if we are faithful to Him. Tell me, when was the last time you experience true, lasting growth when all was well in your life? Almost nobody ever has.
One of my greatest times of growth in my life was leading a group of missionary students in Youth With a Mission. I was the leader of their Discipleship Training School, and each one of the students was already successful and extremely independent, and convinced that their way was the right way.
I was a new guy in leadership and half the age of most of them. They didn’t like having to follow someone inexperienced like myself, and I didn’t like having to lead people who already knew everything! The tension was so great that I had to send my wife home for the last half of our two month outreach because she would get stress induced nose bleeds.
I was so distraught by the whole thing that it was the first time in my life I did a forty day fast! I dreaded walking out of my room every morning because the students would regularly chew me out, rebuke me, even cursing me at times. It was brutal! And yet to this day I would never trade that horrible experience for anything.
I never questioned God’s existence or my calling, I never wondered if God loved me or not because I know Him well enough to know that I will always come out the other side and He will always walk with me even through that shadowy valley of death. Jesus walked through it himself, so why should I expect to be exempt if I am a disciple of His?
I grew, and became so much stronger in that time of pressure and thorns. It was the time when I learned the foundations of not fearing man, something I had struggled with for many years. I avoided conflict so much before that, and now, after being thrown into a cage match with six heavyweights against me, I discovered there is no reason to fear man at all. If God is on my side who is there to fear? Nobody.
So I encourage you all today, to push through the hard times. Crush those scorpions in Jesus name! The greatest victories come after the heaviest battles!