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Confronting Fear With Faith

Maybe you’ve been there. You’re doing alright, struggling a bit as usual but still making it. Then, out of the blue, what can go wrong, does go wrong, and then some. What do you do? Do you give way to fear? Or, does your faith take over?

Faith is knowing God, trusting in His sovereignty, and accepting whatever comes along as a gift from His hand, even when the gift is pain. It’s easy to say, yeah, I trust God, but when push comes to shove, can we really say we do? When our child is rushed to the emergency room in the middle of the night, are we resting in His peace, trusting in His grace, accepting of His mercy, even when the mercy takes us down roads we’d rather not travel? When our refrigerator goes out, then the washer does, then our car does, what do we do? Do we bow our heads, put our problems in His hands, and give God the praise He deserves? Or do we sit around bemoaning our circumstances?

Faith trusts God…even though. Faith praises Him…even when. Faith rests in Him always.

I’ve walked down a trouble-filled road more times than I can count. I’ve been there, and am there even now, where every single thing that can go wrong, does go wrong, and then some. I know how easy it is to say we’re trusting God, and all the while we’re snatching back out troubles from His loving hands because we’re not quite certain, He, the God of everything, is capable enough, smart enough or loves us enough, to really see what’s going on and what we think we need Him to do about it. “Uhm, here, God, if You could just do it this way…NOW.” That’s our tendency, but it’s the wrong one, one born of fear, not faith.

God is sovereign over every single thing in the universe, in heaven and earth, including over the details of our lives, however easy, however painful, they may be. What is going on with us is for His glory and for our good, of that we can be assured.

As I write, my son Matthew is quite sick. The doctors are not sure what’s going on but he’s hurting. They’re trying to figure it out. On top of that, our old truck needs a new battery, and that’s money we don’t have. And, our van isn’t working. More money we don’t have. And our refrigerator is leaking internally. And, struggle and try though we might, we’re behind on utilities and rent, too. Last month, we sold things just to keep food on the table. There’s just not that much left to sell. These on top of other problems, and those on top of others, some financial, some otherwise. Faith or fear must win this battle. I know my God, so I choose faith.

That’s really the issue here, knowing God. He is capable. He is trustworthy. His Word declares it, we simply must ask for the faith to believe it, and to rest in it.

When causes for fear come, and come they will, meet them with rock solid faith. Not faith in yourself, your plans, or capabilities, but faith in the Sovereign God of everything. The Great I AM. He who was, and is, and is to come, is God over every single circumstance in your life. And He’s good, and kind, and loving, and wise. And He can, and will, do abundantly above all that we can ask or think–for His glory and for our good–when we bow down, lay down our fear at His holy feet, and trust in Him to do what He deems necessary.

Faith must conquer fear and, by God’s grace, and through His help, it can.

 

Trusting Him Who Never Fails

Our Lord is so gracious to us. We’re nothing more than poor wretched souls, wayward in our desires, inward in our passions, loving the world, others, and self more than we love Him, the Maker and Giver of life. He is patient with us far beyond anything we should expect from One so mighty, but He continues on because He is Love, He is Mercy, He is gentleness manifested. His mercy is new every morning, even on those mornings that we have trouble seeing it.

Sometimes, in a believer’s life, everything and then more will go wrong. We get on pathway from which there is no return, no U-turns, no undoing the damage constantly being done. Sometimes when we’re on such a pathway, praying, trying, doing all that we can do and more to the end of our strength, our faith can waver. It can, but it shouldn’t. The One who died for us is also the One who said He would never leave us nor forsake us–even when we are on the darkest of paths, even when we wander through desert places, even in the midst of stormy seas, He is there, loving us, protecting us, guiding us. Even when we do not see Him.

This I know, and I know it well. I know it because the Word of God tells me, and you, so. God’s Word can never fail and He who wrote it never fails, either. He is always constant and true. But I also know it on a personal level. I’ve seen God act in the midst of my fears, in the hardest of trials, in the darkest of nights, and during those times I’ve felt His comfort, experienced His healing love, seen His hand of goodness guiding, saving, and providing. Sometimes His provision isn’t actually what we seek or desire. Sometimes, in fact, in our humanness, it is the exact opposite of what we would want. We want sunny days, God provides the darkest of nights. We want a smooth pathway, God provides a stony overgrown trail. We want friends, family, fellow Christians who will love us, God provides a family such as Joseph’s and friends such as Judas. Yet, we should trust Him, for He always knows best.

Sometimes we must move out of the academic, away from what we believe to living out what we believe, to embracing our beliefs, letting them define us, even in the darkest of nights. Over the last decade, my family has known many an overgrown trail, many a dark night, much betrayal, much sorrow, and so many heart breaks that they truly aren’t calculable. Recently, we’ve entered another time of trial, one that has the potential to cause much more sorrow. Things went wrong, then another, and another, and to top it all, we’re accused by some we love of failing to act. They don’t know the endless prayers, the desperate-to-the-end-of-our-strength-effort, the trying when we were far too tired to try. But the Lord knows, and somehow, someway, He will see us through. He will either provide or He will be our Provision through times of deep want. He will be glorified by our struggles through strengthening our faith or He will be glorified as He acts wondrously to do what we cannot do ourselves. Even if the worst happens, He is worthy. So I will praise Him and, if you are in a time of deep sorrow, I encourage you to consider His innate worthiness and praise Him.

Soli Deo gloria!

A Childlike Faith

A child-like faith is what God calls us to. He said it, we do it. He commands, we obey. Trusting in the Lord is active. If  I trust in Him, I pray, I act, I serve, I love. If I trust in Him, I do all those things and more. So much more.

What God has called us to do, God enables us to do. What God desires us to do, we can do. Through Him.

It might be hard, perhaps it is overwhelming, no doubt there will be obstacles but faith persists. Trust does. Belief acts. Time and time again, belief has acted.

Trust in the Lord has climbed mountains.

Faith in God has moved mountains.

Belief in the Lord has caused mountains to disappear.

I want mountains to disappear.

There is so much work to be done. So many people who need to hear the precious name of Jesus. So many churches that need the whole Gospel, churches that have been limping along on a partial gospel for far too long. So many widows, orphans, hurting, scared, broken people needing Christ, needing His saving power, needing His love. So many families to strengthen. So many prayers to be prayed. So many dying every single day without Christ. So many people that I love are so lost. So many, so very lost.

There’s so much repenting to do.

Me. I need to repent. I haven’t trusted, believed, obeyed or acted enough. I haven’t had faith enough. I haven’t trusted in the Lord to move enough mountains.

Have you?

Lord, help us.

Praying for Air

Things pile up, one on top of another, until it feels as if you will drown. Do you know that feeling? I do, oh, so well. God is good even when we struggle for air. Even when things pile up as they will, God is faithful.

He doesn’t always solve our problems.

He doesn’t always change our situation.

But He’s always good. He’s always faithful.

Always.

Sometimes we might have to remind ourselves of this. Sometimes every single thing goes wrong and nothing seems to go right and it feels as if you will drown.

Right now, I feel as if I am drowning.

So much has happened. So many things have gone wrong. On top of it all, our two old vehicles broke down and had to be repaired. Not once but several times. The repairs took money we didn’t have away from bills we were already struggling to pay while still leaving more to pay. Right now, we’re somewhere north of $2,000.00 in the hole with no earthly hope of finding it by the date it has to be found by. If it were only that…. But money problems are only one small part of a very much larger problem. Today, I’m struggling for air.

But, somehow, God always provides air. Not necessarily the air we want, not always the air we hope for, but definitely the air we need.

We only have to ask, to trust, to believe.

So I’m praying for air. I’m begging the Lord of everything for the air we so desperately need, not as I see fit but as He sees fit. My prayers aren’t just for us but for others also. There are so many who are struggling. So I pray for them. If you are struggling, I’m praying for you, too.

Get ready to breath.

Tribulations, difficulties, and disappointments (via Grace Gems)

(Letters of John Newton)

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is!” 1 John 3:2

Let us not be greatly discouraged at the many tribulations, difficulties, and disappointments which lie in the path which leads to glory–seeing that our Lord has foretold us of them, has made a suitable provision for every case we can meet with, and is Himself always near to those who call upon Him in His almighty strength–as a sure refuge, and a never-failing, ever-present help in every time of trouble!

Note likewise, that He Himself was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief for our sakes. He drank off the full cup of unmixed wrath for us–shall we then refuse to taste of the cup of affliction at His appointment, especially when His wisdom and love prepare it for us, and proportion every circumstance to our strength? He puts it into our hands, not in anger but in tender mercy–to do us good, to bring us near to Himself; and He sweetens every bitter draught, with those comforts which none but He can give!

The time is short, the world is passing away, all its cares and all its vanities will soon be at an end! Yet a little while, and “we shall see Him as He is!” Every veil shall be taken away–every seeming frown be removed from His face–and every tear wiped away from ours! We shall also be like Him!

Going Home

Psalms 46: 1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.”

When we wonder around with our days all aflutter, where do we go when we’re tired and just need to rest? Busy this, busy that. Busy here, busy there. Can we find our way back to a place of peace?

When in the midst of so many trials, so many floods that threaten to overwhelm us, where do our minds come to rest when it all gets to be too much?

Do you have a place of quiet rest, a place of safety amidst the storms of life where your mind can be at ease? Oh, how you need one.

There is one, you know. There’s a place where our minds can rest and never have to worry again; a place of ease and comfort that is so grand, so strong, that no matter what storms are blowing or how rough they are, we can be at peace. Our Home is attained by grace through faith because of the death of Jesus Christ. Our Home has a name: He is El Shaddai (Almighty God), Jehovah Jireh (the Lord Who sees and provides), Jehovah Rohi (the Lord my Shepherd). He is our hiding place (Psalms 32: 7, “Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble….”), our help and our shield (Psalms 32: 20, “Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.”), our refuge (Psalms 9: 9, “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”) and our comfort (2 Corinthians 1: 3, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;”) The one whose mind is stayed on Him will be at peace (Isaiah 26: 3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trustest in thee.”).

Grace is the road. Faith is the destination. Repentance is the key. Then, no matter how hard the winds blow, no matter how bad the storm, it can’t cause us to fear. When our minds rest on the Truth that is God, He will keep our hearts in perfect peace. Just as He promised.

Lepers in the Kingdom of God

2 Corinthians 1: 3, 4, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Sometimes God shows His people extraordinary difficulties. His loving hand carefully chooses the burdens that are ours to bear, gently lays them on our shoulders and then, standing by our side, watches, guards and protects us. And, though we know He is there, at times it feels as if we will be broken from the weight. We falter, we fail and, often, we complain, but God, in His Sovereignty, rights us, focuses us and lays the burden squarely back on our bruised and weakened shoulders. Sometimes being broken is the point and so, guided and guarded by God, break we do. At other times, we stagger and right ourselves only to stagger again. Grace alone upholds us.

Sadly, ofttimes, when God bestows His gift of extraordinary difficulties, other Christ-followers react in shock and turn from us, flee from us, ignore our burdens. At those times, added to our burden of pain, fear, poverty, illness, abandonment, abuse or a thousand other difficulties, we now have to bear the burden of human aloneness. It is as if we, who suffer under God’s own care as directed by His hand, are lepers in the Kingdom of God. As such we often share the same fate, abandonment, as do lepers in the more physical, earthly, realm. And yet we are told in Holy Scripture that we are to “weep with those who weep” just as much as we “rejoice with those who rejoice”. It seems as if, for most, it is far, far easier to do one than the other.

A common approach to ministering to those in distress, especially distress that has a less-than-physical cause, is to lay the blame for a fellow Christian’s pain fully back on them. Like Job’s questionable friends, we accuse, castigate and condemn without ever stopping to think that we might be wrong in our accusations. Or, if we are perhaps a bit more loving in our approach, we tell the suffering one that “time will help you to get over it” or that “things really aren’t as bad as they seem” (ignoring the fact that they very well may be worse than we can hope to imagine): if they’ve been abused, we tell them that the other person “didn’t mean it”, or that they’ve “misunderstood”; if they’ve suffered great losses of the heart and of the mind, we tell them “the sun will still come up tomorrow” or “it could be worse, you know” or “if only you’d been better, done better, had more faith, this wouldn’t have happened”, or, in some other sorry way, mitigate their pain, their sorrow, their loss.

I, like most, have known quite a few difficulties in my life but, as with everything, all is of grace and, by God’s mercy, they’ve been tailored just for me. Still, at times, I feel the need to share, to seek prayers, to find comfort in the words, the companionship, of a fellow Christian traveler. Over the last few years, that’s where I’ve lived as the difficulties multiplied and one part of my life, and then another, and another, gave way. And, though in some ways, rebuilding has begun, in others, life continues to give way.  God in His graciousness, has, over the last year, seen fit to give me a very few select travelers who not only understand but in some way share an intimate knowledge of my burdens for they’ve oft suffered in many of the same ways and, more importantly, who know the value of trusting God in difficulties and taking what we’ve learned and becoming comforters. Many times we’ve been able to comfort each other. For these precious few I daily thank God.

But besides these precious ones, when I’ve tried to share my pain with fellow Christians or, sadly even with leaders within the church, when I’ve dared to ask for prayers or guidance, when I’ve tried to explain my sorrows or sought to unburden myself (at those times when I can carry the burdens no longer), I’ve known the additional pain of being stared at in doubt, misunderstanding, even anger and confusion. All before the one I’d prayerfully turned to blanches and changes the subject, makes accusations, explains away my pain, or, more commonly, silently ignores the fact that I ever turned to them to begin with. As it is and has been with me so it is with many who suffer.

Are we really called by God to cast sorrow upon original sorrow by castigating and accusing those who are already wounded? Do we honor our Lord by ignoring their suffering, by changing the subject, denigrating their pain, refusing to listen? Do we bestow grace by walking away? Do we show Christ-likeness by refusing to try to understand simply because we don’t want to? Are we so callous as to allow our misunderstanding to cause us to fail to seek the truth and, through our failing, perhaps even become a pawn in the hand of Satan, an instrument used by him to pour salt into a fellow Christian’s open, bleeding, wounds? All of this in the Name of our precious Lord? Sadly, from my experiences and those of many I have known, these responses are often the norm.

To say we believe God is one thing. To live as if we believe is quite another. Let us, when God pours out His grace in the form of pain and difficulties, lean on Him, take His succor and, from our experiences, learn to become comforters so that we may respond to those who weep and mourn in a way that shows we live what we say we believe.  When confronted by life’s wounded, pray we remember that the Lord has taught us, in Matthew 25: 40, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

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