When we are in a trial, our first reaction is to ask, “How can I get out of this?” It’s human nature to want to run away, to get out of a difficult situation instead of going through it. Psalm 34:17 tells us, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” But deliverance doesn’t always come as quickly as we would like. So what can we do while we wait for our time of deliverance? The Word tells us what we should do: “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart, his steps do not slip.” (Psalm 37:30)
So, if our mouths are to utter wisdom, is it wise to speak negative things while enduring a time of trial? Is it wise to complain or express doubt about the situation? God loves justice, so it would be right to speak out that God is going to bring justice to your situation. His Word, the holy scriptures, should be in our heart so that we will not stumble or fall. “Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” (Psalms 119:11 NAS) Find scriptures that speak positive, hope-filled things to or about your situation and read them over and over. Meditate day and night on them. Write them down. Carry them with you to work, as you go about your day. The enemy of our soul is always right there putting doubts and bad thoughts in our mind, so we have to counteract those messages with God’s word. Psalm 37:23 tells us, “The steps of a man (woman) are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way, though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” And I love the next verse which says, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”
King David struggled through many tests and trials throughout his life, yet out of these trials he wrote most of the Psalms which offer so much real-ness and encouragement for anyone who is struggling. Read the Psalms and mark the verses that relate to your situation and that will encourage and bless you as you wait upon the Lord.
You may feel overwhelmed by the trial you face. Maybe you have lost your strength from fear or discouragement and you think it’s impossible to pull out of it all. God’s Word will strengthen you. As you meditate on His Word, your thoughts will begin to line up with God’s thoughts. Hebrews 12:12-13 offers valuable instruction from the Lord: “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” This, to me, is a picture of worship. Put on some praise and worship music and get yourself up and lift your hands up and worship the Lord. Sing out words of praise despite how you feel. You may even need to jump and dance, get your feet moving as you worship! Isaiah 61:3 paints a wonderful picture of this: “. . .to grant to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
Find reasons to praise the Lord in the midst of your trial. It’s easy to speak out the negative things, the hopeless things, so you will have to make a conscious decision and effort to think of the things you have to be thankful for and to offer your praises to God. In praising Him, you will open the door to be led by faith instead of doubt and unbelief. God has given all of us “The measure of faith,” but it is up to us to exercise it and allow our faith to grow.
Ask your friends or a close family member to help you be positive, to help you stay focused on God’s Word instead of your problems. If you don’t have any one close to you who can support you in this, pray for God to bring a prayer partner into your life. We all need support in difficult times.
In everything we do, in everyday life, we are faced with choices. The choices we make always begin with our thoughts; we then act on our thoughts and live them out. So it is important to examine the choices we make throughout the day. God has given us all the ability to choose how we’re going to live and what we’re going to think. Use the power God has given you to choose His way for you.
King David’s statement of faith, recorded in Acts 2:25-28, is still true for each of us today: “I saw the Lord always before me, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” His presence will make you glad, so make room in your day to focus on Him. As you reach out to God, He will make Himself known to you and will give you His peace that is beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:7) and fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy (Job 8:21 NIV).
Another important thing we can do while facing tough times is to reach out to others. When we help someone else who is in need, we think less of our own problems and gain a personal blessing by being of service to another. In the words of the Lord Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Let’s pray together:
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are truly my Father, so I come to you as your child. Please help me to keep Your Word before me and to lift praises to You in spite of how I feel. Help me to see and learn all that You want me to see and learn in this trial. I open my heart and mind to you. Please fill me and touch me in my time of need. Show me others I may reach out to and help so I can be a blessing. Thank you that you hold me in Your loving hand and You are watching over my life to perform something good, even something great, as I learn to trust in You every step of the way.
I ask this all in the mighty name of Jesus Christ,
Except as noted, all scripture references are from the English Standard Version.
By Sherry McPherson | March 25, 2009 8:51 am |
“Be afraid. Be very afraid.” Everywhere we turn, that’s the message we hear today, from news reporters, politicians, bankers, stock brokers, auto executives, retailers, employers, even our friends and family members. Fear seems to be overwhelming the world.
As believers in Jesus Christ, are we to submit to this spirit of fear? God’s holy Word teaches us otherwise. In fact, the Bible is full of examples of God and His messengers assuring us with words like, “Do not be afraid,” “Do not fear” and “Have no fear.” I love the way these passages are translated in the King James Version: “FEAR NOT!”
The subject of fear is a consistent theme throughout the Bible. In the 14th chapter of Genesis, Abraham is in the midst of a tense confrontation with the King of Sodom, yet God reassures Abraham: “‘Do not be afraid, Abraham. I am your shield, your very great reward.’” (Genesis 15:1b)
The story of the Exodus contains one of the greatest moments in all of history. The Israelites have been released from slavery and are making their long journey out of Egypt. The land through which they must journey is a wilderness with little food or water. The Israelites are complaining to Moses, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt just to die in the wilderness?” The situation becomes urgent when Pharaoh has a change of heart and decides it was a mistake to release the Israelites. He arms his chariots and sets out in pursuit to take them back into captivity. To make matters even worse, the Israelites are backed up against the Red Sea with nowhere to run. If ever a group of people had a right to be hopeless, this was it! Yet Moses says to the Israelites, “. . .Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today. . . . The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.” (Exodus 14:13-14) We all know the rest of the story. God divided the waters and made a path of dry land right through the middle of the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape between the walls of water on either side. Wow! At a moment when all seemed hopeless, God said, “Don’t be afraid! You don’t have to do anything except trust in Me!” Can we really believe that?
The Psalms contain many assurances about fear. “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (118:6 KJV) “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (27:1 KJV) And of course, the beloved 23rd Psalm, in which the Psalmist acknowledges that even when we walk through the darkest valley (the Valley of the Shadow of Death), we need fear no evil, for God is with us!
In the Old Testament, several passages are translated, “Do not fear or be dismayed.” Wouldn’t you agree that all of us are feeling a little dismayed these days? Don Moen wrote a wonderful song inspired by passages such as Joshua 1:9:
Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way
Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the One Who lives within you
Will be strong in you today!
(Be Strong And Take Courage by Don Moen, Integrity Music)
Have we become so content with our earthly comforts that we have forgotten how dependent we are on the Lord? We must humble ourselves and acknowledge that we are not in control. God is in Control, and He hears our prayers! “Do not fear,” the Lord’s angel said to Daniel, “for from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before God, your words have been heard. . .” (Daniel 10:12) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5,6) “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) What wonderful promises these are! And yet we must never forget our responsibility to humble ourselves, to acknowledge the Lord, and to seek to please Him with our lives.
If we are instructed to not be afraid, what does God offer to replace our fear? He offers the most wonderful thing of all, peace! In the words of our Savior Jesus Christ, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27) Two chapters later, He says it this way: “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation (serious trouble), but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) We’re supposed to be of good cheer even when we’re facing serious trouble?
The apostle Paul faced his share of serious trouble, but he also knew the peace of God. Acts chapter 16 tells of a time when Paul and his friend Silas were wrongly accused for preaching the gospel and casting out a demon. They were beaten with rods, then thrown into prison, where they were bound by foot stocks in the innermost cell (maximum security). Under those circumstances, I’m not sure I would be of good cheer, but Paul and Silas were! About midnight, they were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them (probably thinking they must be lunatics!). Suddenly there was a great earthquake so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors of the prison were opened and all the prisoners’ chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he assumed the prisoners had escaped and drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself. We are all here!” The jailer rushed into the cells and fell on his knees in front of Paul and Silas, amazed that they had remained in the jail when they could have easily escaped. The jailer took them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” By trusting God in the middle of serious trouble, not only were Paul and Silas released from prison, but others were led to believe in Jesus as God’s Son, even the jailer and his family!
Later, Paul would write, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication (asking with humility), with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear: “. . .Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they? And can you, by worrying, add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the [ungodly people] who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:25-33)
Beyond doubt, these are troubled times, but God never promised us that we would never have to face trouble. In fact, He promised us we could not escape it. But He has further promised that we can rely on Him completely to walk with us through every trial. He is the Creator of the Universe, and He is bigger than all the problems this world will ever face. No wonder He can say to us, “Fear not!”
We are worried and fearful and too often weak in our faith. Please forgive us. Please teach us to trust in You completely. Help us not to be caught up in the fears and anxieties of this world, but to lay all of our concerns before You in faith. May we know your peace that passes all understanding. May our faith in You be a shining light that turns the eyes of the nation upon You. As we humble ourselves and pray, as we seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways, please hear us from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land. May we live each moment in the assurance that we need not fear; we can trust You in every way, for You are in control. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
*Unless otherwise noted all scripture references are from the New Revised Standard Version.
By | March 3, 2009 4:05 pm |