How is your ‘hope’ today? Yesterday word came that a friend who has given his life to ministry is critically ill, weeks from death apart from a miracle. My heart was moved by the news, my mind resisting it. “Lord, why this, for him, of all people?” Yes, I know that prayer is irrational. My friend lives in a world where there is death, disease, cancer, and corruption, as do I. Intellectually I understand that my God still rules. My theology is sound and there is the assurance that “His ways are higher than our ways” but sometimes “knowing” the words is just not enough. I do not want someone to ‘explain’ life to me, I just want to be held in God’s embrace.
Ever been there, Christian?
St. John of the Cross spoke of living through the “dark night of the soul.” When pain, sorrow, death, or disappointment are my companions in life, the Tempter accuses – “You caused this. You failed. You are being judged. Your fault … “ Most days I am able to ignore the growl, but there are moments in the dark when I waver. But, God … yes, God is greater!
Shall I, on dark days, after preaching God’s love and grace, turn to the emptiness of religiosity, believing in my own ‘righteousness?’ If I do, I will add guilt to sorrow. Sometimes boldly, sometimes pitifully, I turn my heart to God, no matter how distant He may seem to be, and pray. It’s not eloquence that wins me a hearing in Heaven, it is confidence in the One who has made me whole and holy inviting me to come into God’s Presence with confidence.
This Monday morning, in a world that is too often full of troubles, let’s make faith choices that honor the Lord. What are they?
First- We continue in what He has said to us in the past and in His Word.
If God is silent today, we cannot forget His Word. “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”” (Romans 3:3-4, NIV)
Second- We look up, remembering that we are more than flesh and bone.
We are eternal beings, citizens of the heavenly kingdom, aliens in this present world on our way home. In the dark, we may be tempted to seek solace through food, sex, materialism, or other entertaining diversions. Should I look to the things of this earth to heal what can only be healed by His touch? Many is the person who has gone onto the rocks and wrecked their life when they sought some temporary comfort for the distress of their soul.
Third- We commit ourselves, in the company of others, to go “Steady on!”
This is the directive of the Word for such times. “Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.” (Hebrews 12:13, NLT)
Fourth- We choose to govern our emotions.
When the heart is broken it is good to weep. Sorrow is just as real as joy, as surely as there are both day and night. But, to hand ourselves over to the rule of our heart is a tragic mistake. In the depth of our sorrow we may question God and His ways wondering why we are not able to hear His voice or sense the comfort of the Spirit. But, if we rage against Him, if we accuse Him of being uncaring, unloving, or unjust we will become blind to the Truth. There will may slip into bitterness. The Word warns that “from that root of bitterness comes great and troubling discontent!”
Lastly- We lean hard on the Lord, praying that He will keep us faithful!
“Lord, am I weak, wavering, unable to see the way ahead, but You are the Eternal God, the Faithful One.” Paul, who knew both great triumph and terrible rejection, reminds those who are broken by life that our weakness creates a place for His strength to shine through. Here is his testimony – “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (Lord, I believe. Help me overcome my doubt!) So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NLT)
Here is a song of the Psalms, our word from the Word.
Make this your prayer, dear friend, as I have this morning.
“Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.”
O LORD, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.
To you, O LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit?
Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.” (Psalm 30:4-12, NIV)
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
(What a beautiful affirmation of the goodness of God!)
Great is Thy faithfulness
O God my Father
There is no shadow
Of turning with Thee
Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been
Thou forever wilt be
Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, New mercies I see
All I have needed
Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me
Summer and winter
And springtime and harvest
Sun moon and stars
In their courses above
Join with all nature
In manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness
Mercy and love
Pardon for sin
And a peace that endureth
Thy own dear presence
To cheer and to guide
Strength for today
And bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine
With ten thousand beside
Thomas Obediah Chisholm | William Marion Runyan © Words: Public Domain