Have you ever wondered why our plans are delayed? Even the ways the Lord has assigned to us are impeded. We ask the Lord for His will toward us, then begin our journey and still, there are delays. Every work we purpose to do is by God’s will and yet, there are interruptions. At times our godliness too is interrupted. God has given us the liberty to make plans for our future by His will. He reveals them in the Bible. We are very encouraged and happy to see Him lovingly think of us. But then there are delays, sometimes agonizingly long delays. They cause great disappointment. We feel to have been held back by an unknown power; there is an incomprehensible atmosphere. Although we are absolutely sure our ways are from God, we forcefully resign to the fact that we must tarry longer than it appears. Jesus gives the reason for it. “He said to His disciples, ‘It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!’” (Luke 17:1).
Stumbling blocks are part of Christian life or godly living. We are called by God to make plans to serve Him besides seeking plans from Him to have a joyful life. God heartily reveals them to us. But they are fulfilled through hindrances. Stumbling blocks are the works of the ungodly and unbelieving people that are the epitome of Satan. It is a must that we face their actions. They seek to tear apart everything we in the right mind desire to do. Nehemiah and Ezra faced such men when they resolved to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. God called them to rebuild Jerusalem; they obtained permissions from the king; they were allotted money from the king’s treasury. Yet, the work was delayed by few years. Evil men ridiculed them, obstructed their work by fabricating false accusations against them to the king and even tried to assassinate Nehemiah. They faced stumbling blocks. They had to fear for their life and felt they would not complete that which they purposed by God’s will. They were almost destabilized and deteriorated.
Jesus too faced stumbling blocks. He faced opposition from the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees; they worked under the power of Satan. They thoroughly sought to hinder Him from fulfilling the Father’s will. His life taught us we will be no different. Many times it is those whom we believe to understand us that lay stumbling blocks in our paths. Other times it is strangers. But, there are few things we can realize while facing stumbling blocks; they comfort us.
- We are truly in the will of God
- We find out the enemies of the truth
- We in time defeat stumbling blocks; they will not last forever
When they nailed Jesus to the cross, the Jews thought they did away with Him permanently; little did they know that it was the beginning of His victory. Because of all the stumbling blocks He faced, He knew He was fulfilling the Father’s will; He knew He will obtain victory; the enemies of the Kingdom were revealed. So did Nehemiah and Ezra in their striving to rebuild Jerusalem. Nevertheless, stumbling blocks do cause burdens – we have to journey alone for a while; we have to face people’s wrath. But, God will do away with both.
Until God does His work, what should our task be? How can we stand firm in faith and focus on God’s will and promises. The Bible has some amazing thoughts.
- Surrender even more to God’s will. The apostle Paul faced many stumbling blocks during his ministry to Jesus. At one time a prophet by the name Agabus came and forewarned him. “And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, ‘this is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles’” (Acts 21:11). Paul knew ahead about the stumbling blocks. Yet, he did not retreat. He surrendered himself even more to the cause of Christ. When we imitate him, we witness God amazingly working for us. To retreat would mean missing God’s will, His ever growing love and tender care. Paul fulfilled Christ’s will for him in Jerusalem and then went on to Rome for the same. It is the momentary fear factor that appears with stumbling blocks which tempts us to retreat. Our judgment at that moment is vital. If our focus is back on God’s will, we overcome fear.
- Fear the past life. The life cancelled by sanctification in Jesus’ blood should be feared. When we do not want to go back to it, we do not retreat with stumbling blocks. Stumbling blocks seek to take us to old life. Paul said, “You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led” (1 Cor. 12:2). The Corinthian church became a church with great spiritual indiscipline. The primary reason was stumbling blocks. There were so many of them, for Corinth was a pagan city; and believers began to neglect God’s will for them. Had they feared their past life and its destructive power, they would have done better for Christ.
- Be alert. “And do not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4:27). At the time of stumbling blocks we are very vulnerable. If we let disappointment and fear reign in us, Satan takes the opportunity to lead us to rebel against God, sin in some form or simply run away from His will. The best way is to be alert and it is by praying and dwelling on the Word more than before. They cut off every plan of Satan toward us.
- Believe that God is handling our matters. He has a perfect way of doing things. Though we may think He is still, He is nonetheless actively working without our knowledge. And one of the things He does when we are facing delays is to make sure we are safe and secure. He has His means for it. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14).
- Keep a clean heart. It is the best way to feel confident that delays will not end up as disasters. We know it is only a matter of time, which the Lord has assigned for His glory, to obtain victory. “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:21). Often during delays Satan uses various weapons to weaken us and turn us faithless. One of his powerful weapons is temptation. As long as we are not overcome by it, we have a clean heart before the Lord and remain confident.
- God counts us worthy. He knows our hearts are perfect for His will while our minds strive toward perfection. Hence, He views us as perfect and has good intentions for us. “To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power” (2 Thess. 1:11).