Do we believe what we read in God’s Word so thoroughly through and through that our lives remain on track according to the straight path God has made before us?
God says, do not fear. But there remain many things that I fear.
God says He is with me. Should I not be brave and unafraid knowing God is indeed with me because He says He is.
God cannot lie. It really is that simple in truth.
It is not so simple in practice but God has a training program in place for us to help perfect our practice.
God says to not anxiously look about. The only reason for this command is because we do anxiously look about in fear of what might happen. God gives us the reason to not be anxiously looking about because God is our God – and he says it in such a way that the statement should be enough. Yet He knows that we are weak and he knows that we need unusual strength and help. He says He will strengthen us and most certainly help me. Do we doubt His word? No. But we behave in ways that too often beguile what we confessed just now. God promises to uphold us with His right hand.
It is a given.
It has been written.
God is true to every word He has spoken and revealed.
Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10
We suffer for a reason and we fall short of fully understanding the working of God in our lives, also for a reason. We are not intended to fully experience the fullness of the Kingdom of God while dwelling on this earth. We are promised that for another time when our bodies have been transformed into conformity with Christ’s body and we are dwelling with Christ in eternity.
Our suffering has many reasons, too many to exhaust here today. But one reason is to prepare us and reveal to us the omnipotence of God. God promises and we believe but our belief is incomplete. It is conditional and limited by our level of faith and understanding. We say we believe and then we encounter trials and suffering and we waver, wobble, and become weak kneed in response to the trial. That is when we are tempted to anxiously look about to see who’s doing us in and why. Perhaps we are looking for help from someone or something around us. By doing that, we miss the fact that the trial and suffering is a way of revealing that what God has said, he will do. What he has spoken he will make good.
Without the opportunity to put what we profess to believe into practice our growth in faith will be nil. We must encounter the opportunities to exercise our confession of hope and learn to do that without wavering. When we encounter these opportunities, then we can exercise what we believe, what we claim to confess.
Confession is good and it serves as a signpost to what we believe – at least that is the idea. But the confessions that are true are those that we utter when we are faced with trials and sufferings. No matter what situations we encounter, we confess something by our words, deeds, and thoughts. What we confess in our creeds, our prayers, our motto, our yard signs, our bumper stickers, or wrist bands, they do not mean anything until they are put to a test to see how deep their roots go into our faith.
The result of a test is manifested in the exercise of our faith, our belief, in what we confess. Is God indeed with us? If He is, we do not have to fear. In the most threatening circumstances, we can know that God is with us because He has declared that he is so. We know without a doubt (most of the time) that God is with us because He has spoken those promises so many times it must be true. God only needs to speak the promise once for it to be truth but he repeats it for our sake throughout his revealed Word.
The process is this, my daily walk in this fallen world will lead me into occasions of testing and temptations and I need to know that such is the normal experience for all who are children of God and called by His Name, even those who believe on his name.
(7) When it happens, I exercise my faith in what I know and believe is true. God is with me. No matter what the outcome, I am sustained (held up from underneath) by God’s righteous right hand.
So, the encouragement is this, when suffering comes, remember it is common among those who are called out and have received full adoption into God’s family. Before us and after us are many who have and will suffer the same. Some much more severely than we ever will. Some will encounter kings who in arrogance and anger they are bound and tied and thrown into a furnace of fire so hot it killed those who threw them in. Some will be tossed into a pit full of hungry lions as a result of evil conspiracies and only because they would not cease their practice of praying.
God has saved and spared the lives of some and not of others in such circumstances. Some lost their head and some are still losing their heads because they speak and believe in the true and only God. Imagine a believer today taken from his house and in the sight of his family is given the choice to deny God and renounce his faith in Jesus or lose his head. Can we understand how they can then and there lay claim to God’s promise that He is with them even as their head is separated from their body?
When will we get serious about our current circumstances? When will we prepare ourselves for the day when we are the one on our knees before the evil one and its servants and offered the opportunity to live if only we deny the one who died on the cross for us?
Are we ready?
Am I ready?
That, we will know the answer to only at the moment such an option is truly offered to us. In the meantime (if that ever does come to be) our opportunity is to exercise our faith using the opportunities we are given today. Begin by being thankful and joyous for those opportunities.
God is not changed from the time Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He still promises to be with us even if it means getting together in a furnace of fire that no person can survive without God.
God is not changed from the time that Joseph was dragged out of the well and sold as a slave and carted off to Egypt because his brothers hated him so much they actually planned to murder him. God was with him in the bottom of the well and went with him to Egypt.
God is not changed from the time that He allowed His servant Job to suffer every imaginable loss except the loss of his life.
God does not change. He is not different from the way He works in our country or the way He works in the parts of the world where believers are being martyred because they cling to Him in faith.
It is time to get ready. We must stop putting our faith in kings and presidents and chariots and jet fighters. The words and promises of men and women are useless. We must stop fearing what is coming and get ready in our faith to face what is inevitable, what has been promised, and we must do what we have been given to do and do it today.
We honestly and sincerely need to consider it all joy when various trials come our way. Let us not duck and cover but let us allow the testing to strengthen our perseverance. Our only offensive weapon is the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. We have some training to do so let’s get to it.
(1) Proverbs 3:5-6; (2) Isaiah 40:10,13; (3) 1 Peter 5:9-10 (4) Philippians 3:20-21; (5) Numbers 23:19; (6) Hebrews 10:23; (7) John 1:12; (8) Joshua 1:9 Hebrews 13:5; (9) James 1:2-4; (10) Daniel 3:16-19; (11) Genesis 37,39-46; (12) Job 42:10-17; (13) Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12