For a bleak Monday

I love ‘happy’ and people blessed with an optimistic outlook. I tend to see the glass half-empty most of the time, partially my personality and a side-effect of old age, perhaps. The last few days, with the escalating war in Ukraine, we have needed more than optimism, I think.  There is much to be said for being positive. Who doesn’t love that song from Little Orphan Annie – “The sun’ll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun.”  People like that are a gift to the rest of us!

But, there are limits to the ability of optimism to carry us through hard times. I have known amazing blessings and dark nights of the soul, glad songs and sad songs, success and failure.  It is true that life goes on and that with courage we will see the sun come up tomorrow. But, beyond optimism is a gift and a choice of greater power to sustain us, even on this bleak Monday in this world. Optimism  hopes that “I can do this. I will overcome.” It’s admirable! But, faith is better

Faith trusts in a purposeful God.  Many people confuse optimism and true faith but they are different, having an entirely different focal point. Optimism depends on a change of circumstance that I work hard to produce. Faith trusts in the promise that God  is “working in all things to accomplish something for the good of those who love Him!” (Romans 8:28)

An optimist may make bold assertions about what God will do in their situation, but never truly and fully trust in the Lord.  Those Christians who believe that if they say enough positive things, if they force themselves to ‘believe’ what they say with conviction, God is somehow obligated to do what they want. They are sadly mistaken, headed for a collision with reality.

Faith understands that “God is God, I am not.”   Perhaps it seems that I do not believe in the power of prayer. Ah, but I do! “Prayer” that is just a statement of my desire or the claim of my positive words is not prayer at all.  Real prayer seeks God, desiring His will,  and is settled on His purpose.  Oh yes, we are to pray about needs, even our desires. 

Because we are His beloved children, Abba (Father) invites us to come confidently with our petitions. But, at the same time, He teaches us that He is Lord and Father.  In love and humility we relinquish control of life to Him.  Humility is a key to real prayer always remembering that God sees what we can’t even begin to imagine.   

Consider this … Did Job, the Old Testament saint who lost his family, his wealth, and even the respect of his wife and friends, suffer as he did because he did not pray with faith?   Of course not. He suffered according to the will of God for purposes that he did not know and could not grasp, and yet that faithful man did not turn on the Lord.  Yes, he questioned. Yes, he even challenged God to explain Himself, but he quickly became humble and confessed that God was Lord of all saying, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15, NKJV)  

Did Paul go through hard times because he lacked faith? To suggest that is absurd.  He reminds us that the sufferings he endured actually served to bring him to greater dependence on God!  “It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9, The Message)

Peter tells us that “those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19, NIV)

This day, replace mere optimism with great faith!  Get to know God – in prayer, through meditation, from the pages of the Scripture, in worship. 

Go beyond having a god (small ‘g’ intended!) that you keep around like a good luck charm, a deity you bring out to ward off ‘bad luck.’  That’s the stuff of religion, the empty tradition of human based ‘worship.’ Give your life to Him. Learn to be delighted by the truth that you are His; to be used by Him, to serve His purposes.  There, in His will, is supreme joy that supersedes our situations.

Our word from the Word invites us to know the heart of faith: a totally God-focused, surrendered, trusting life. As you read these inspired words which reduce me to tears each time I read them, allow the Holy Spirit to breathe faith in your soul. “I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21, NLT)

(Video of this blog at this link)

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Great Is Thy Faithfulness

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

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