Trusting God

“At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. 
Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; 
may the name of the Lord be praised.’
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
Job 1:20-22 (NIV)

One of the most heart wrenching aspects of Job’s great sorrow was that the record does not indicate that he ever learned why he went through such suffering. When trials come our way, it can help us endure if we can see reasons for or purpose of the suffering.

For example, I can look back on some trials I endured but they came as a result of my own mistakes. I deliberately did something that came back to haunt me. I had to go to people and apologize for some of my choices that caused them pain. One foolish act of mine many years ago was only confessed in the past couple of years when I finally caught up to those who were hurt by my actions. This is one way we can find relief for sorrow in life.

I recall meeting a young man in a wheelchair who lost the use of his legs when he recklessly drove a stolen car at high speed and caused a terrible accident. His back was broken, and he was told he would never walk again. He knew all too well the “why” of his suffering.

Another way suffering can be explained is when we see benefits coming from the problem. Since I began my journey with cancer in 1989, I have been able to minister to many cancer patients and am able to tell them how the Lord has helped me manage this health issue. Also, my acceptance of the matter can be a living example for them to imitate. So, this is another way we can endure because others benefit from our example.

But it is confusing and very troubling when we cannot see a purpose for suffering. One wise person who suffered greatly had a remarkable word from the Lord which was, “Can you trust me with this problem even if I never tell you why?”. This idea of trusting the Lord when we cannot trace Him is very important. We see faith coming into the situation to enable us to cope with the sorrow. But how do we strengthen our faith?

One way is to recognize that the Lord’s people in every generation have suffered. Many examples are found in the Bible. Seeing how they were sustained gives us hope. Read the book of Job and find out for yourself. Talk to others who have suffered and learn from them. Most of all read about Jesus’ suffering and you will be blessed powerfully.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:3-5 (NIV)

“Man of Sorrows,” what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless, we,
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full redemption—can it be?
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die,
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high;
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
To His kingdom us to bring,
Then anew this song we’ll sing
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Living For Today

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,
and all these things will be provided to you.
So do not worry about tomorrow;
for tomorrow will worry about itself. 
Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:33-34 (NASB)

There are some people who live for the moment and have no care for the issues of tomorrow. They sometimes are called free spirits for their uninhibited lifestyle. They are spontaneous and do not concern themselves with what may come tomorrow.

This is not what Jesus means when he tells us not to worry about tomorrow. According to the Bible there is a class of people who need to be very worried about tomorrow! This group of people are referred to in Luke 1:79 where we read that they, “…sit in darkness and the shadow of death”. We need, as Christians, to warn these people to “flee from the wrath to come” as John the Baptist put it (Luke 3:7).

Today I am speaking to believers who all too often reach into tomorrow and pull back into today its possible problems and worries. All that accomplishes is to spoil today’s joy with anxiety over what may or may not be coming in 24 hours. Can you not see how fruitless, even futile, such actions are?

Day by day we are led by our Good Shepherd every step of our journey from this shattered, sinful world to the Celestial City—where every tear shall be wiped from our eyes. Where joy abounds and there is no more sorrow, nor death nor crying. Does not this truth grant you a determination to weather today’s storm knowing you are destined for an eternal future with a nail scarred Jesus who loved you and gave Himself for you?

Take heart dear reader and do as your Beloved Master tells you to do today. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Strive to be holy as He is holy. Imitate Him in all you say and do. Learn all you can today concerning how to behave right now as His dear children. As you pursue your Christian responsibilities for here and now the Saviour will draw alongside you supplying all to you. So come to Him who loves you with an everlasting love and partake of all you require to meet today’s challenges. Come and come now.

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

The Privilege Of Suffering For Our Saviour

“I want to know Christ—yes,
to know the power of his resurrection
and participation in his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death…”
Philippians 3:10 (NIV)

Perhaps you have heard of Helen Roseveare M.D. , three time speaker at plenary sessions at the Urbana Missionary Conference. A world class missionary in the Congo who suffered much for her Saviour during 20 years in Africa. Her sweet personality, seen in many YouTube postings, is such a blessing as she relates her love and life for Jesus.

One of Helen’s characteristic comments was “Thank you Lord for trusting me with this suffering even though you may never tell me why,” Helen said she learned to accept suffering during the horrors she experienced at the hands of rebel soldiers during a 5 month captivity.

The night she was converted the speaker at the conference she attended gave her a Bible and wrote in it Phil. 3:10. He then told her that she had come to “know Christ” and that years later she might have the privilege of suffering for Him. What a thing to say to someone who had been a believer for an hour! A privilege to suffer for Christ? But the statement was prophetic.

Would the average Christian in the western world count it a privilege to suffer for Christ? Would any of us desire to participate in our Lord’s suffering? Does Paul have a mental disorder evidenced in his desire for pain? Not at all! Our Lord said, as recorded in John 16:33, that His people would suffer in this life. Thus, it should be no surprise when sorrow comes knocking at our door.

Do you know someone who could use your tender compassion? Perhaps they have lost their job, their home, a loved one. Can you minister grace into their lives? Are you blind to the grief all around you? Could you drive them to a doctor’s appointment, a diagnostic test? Could you do grocery shopping for them? What about sending a loving email including a precious promise from Scripture?

If you are suffering you could send to someone who is also suffering a brief account of how you have been helped during your journey with pain. Let them lean on your faith. Weep with those who weep Paul wrote (Romans 12:15). Not giving a lot of advice but rather showing your pain at their grief can be a means of grace. Do not waste your suffering but rather use it for the benefit of others who also suffer. Find someone today who needs your help and come alongside them to gently lift them up. As you help the weary you may find your own pain diminish and your joy in the Lord greatly increased.

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow;
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.”

― Robert Browning Hamilton

“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me
then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”

― C.T. Studd

When Faith Falters

“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 
When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.”
John 1:35-37 (NIV)

“John’s disciples told him about all these things.
Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask,
‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’ 
When the men came to Jesus, they said,
‘John the Baptist sent us to you to ask,
‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’
…’I tell you, among those born of women
there is no one greater than John…’”
Luke 7:18-20;28 (NIV)

John the Baptist was among the great men in the history of the covenant community. Indeed, Jesus said no one before him was greater than he was. John was Yahweh’s messenger to prepare the way for the coming Messiah (Malachi 3:1). He preached repentance for sin and baptized converts to picture their death to their old way of life and resurrection to a new way of life. Crowds thronged to hear this powerful preacher. Even Herod Antipas, the Roman ruler over Galilee, liked to hear John preach (Mark 6:20). But John boldly publicly preached that Herod was in an adulterous relationship (Mark 6:18) which incensed Herodias his “wife” and she persuaded Herod to put John into prison.

The prison John was in was not a five star hotel nor even like the prisons in many modern countries. The smells and noises of the prisoners could be heard throughout the structure. It was a furnace in summer and cold in winter. John lived a simple life in the wilderness but enjoyed the scenes, the creative power of God and went and came as the Spirit moved him. Now his only blessing it seems was to be visited occasionally by some of his disciples.

Under such duress John’s faith faltered. He had preached that his younger cousin Jesus would purge the nation (Luke 3:17). However, all reports showed that Jesus had immense popularity and only after John’s death would the Teacher purge as recorded in Matthew 23. John’s faith in his own preaching and mission faltered. Had he been wrong? Was there some great mistake made by him? When he baptized the One he thought was the promised Messiah, he felt sure he had seen the Holy Spirit descend on Him and was certain he heard a voice from heaven saying that this was His beloved Son Who pleased Him.

In light of such overwhelming evidence John’s faith did indeed waiver. Can you put yourself in John’s place today? Have circumstances brought you to the dry place spiritually? Does Satan chide you for thinking you have a loving heavenly Father? Are you unable to see the promises of Scripture fulfilled in your life?

Do what Jesus did for John which was to have the messengers witness some of His miracles. Then He told them to take a report back to John of what they saw. John’s extensive knowledge of Messianic prophecies would confirm they were fulfilled in Jesus.

When our faith falters we need to pour over the Gospels, read all we can about Jesus’ miracles, ponder His sermons, and call out to Him for reassurance that He is indeed the promised One. Then seek from Him grace equal to your need. Take a promise and call for its fulfilment. For example, take Deut. 33:25 and call on the Lord to make your strength equal to your daily issues. Plead the following promise. Psalm 91:15

“He will call on me, and I will answer him; 
I will be with him in trouble, 
I will deliver him and honor him.”

Remember the cry of the father of the possessed son when he responded to Jesus

“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed,
‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’”
Mark 9:24 (NIV).

If necessary, pray the desperate father’s prayer.

So come and come now to the Expected One, the Messiah, the Friend of sinners, the meek and lowly One, Who promises never to turn away any who come to Him.

Come to the Savior, all,
whate’er your burdens be;
hear now His loving call,
“Cast all your care on me.”
Come, and for every grief,
in Jesus you will find
a sure and safe relief,
a loving friend and kind.

– J. M. Wigner

The Tenth Resurrection Appearance

“Then they gathered around him and asked him,
‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ 
He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know
the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; 
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ 
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes,
and a cloud hid him from their sight.”
Acts 1:6-9 (NIV)

A hotly debated subject among Christians concerns the second coming of Christ and when certain events will occur. Also, every generation of Christians has had many believers asserting the coming would be in their day. One cult taught that Jesus would come in 1914. When He did not come, they said it was an invisible coming that occurred. Then they prophesied that in 1925 Armageddon would happen, but it didn’t. Another date for when the end would come they said, was 1975, but again they struck out.

Just prior to the Lord’s ascension the disciples eagerly asked Him if He was about to set up His earthly kingdom with Israel at its center. So, we see that the Lord’s people from the first generation on have been overly concerned about the second coming.

Jesus bluntly responded to the disciples’ question and told them that it was not their business to know when the end would come. He told them that instead their business was to focus on the present and its responsibilities. Specifically, He told them that when the Holy Spirit would come on them with power, they were to be His witnesses throughout the entire world. So, testifying to the work of Christ should be front and center for all of us and we need to assist others elsewhere to do the same i.e., missionaries.

Have you been the type of Christian who lets musing on the second coming distract you from getting on with the work of today? Have you neglected responsibilities you have today in order to read the latest book on possible details on the second coming? My dear believer may you be encouraged to do your Master’s will in the present in order that in the future you will be able to hear that wonderful salutation from your Master, “Well done good and faithful servant…”

A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill:
Oh, may it all my pow’rs engage
To do my Master’s will!

Arm me with jealous care,
As in Your sight to live;
And O Your servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give!

– Charles Wesley