Faith in Time of Crisis

June 14, 2016

“So do not throw away your faith; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised… For he that is righteous shall live by faith.” (Hebrews 10:35-38)

As the author of the book of Hebrews continues giving doubting disciples reasons why they should not throw away their faith, he says they should keep the faith because they need faith for living.  Authentic disciples know they are saved by faith, but the disciples to whom he was writing had forgotten that they are also called to live by faith.

He quotes the key verse of Habakkuk’s prophecy written to suffering people.  When we are suffering we need reminders that God has given us the faith to persevere and do the will of God in our crisis – until we receive what God has given us, the faith to believe will ultimately happen according to His promises.

I have observed a direct correlation between spiritual growth and suffering.  The Greek word translated “persevere” in these verses is a quality God grows in those who are living by faith while they are suffering, according to the Apostle Paul (Romans 5: 3-5).  Other authors of the New Testament agree with Paul.

The immediate response of many authentic disciples when they find themselves in a difficult situation is: “Lord, get me out of here!” When that doesn’t happen they are sometimes tempted to throw away their faith.  The message conveyed by these verses is “Don’t throw away your faith.  You need your faith to live through your crisis.”

Is this a message you need to hear today?

Dick Woodward, 03 December 2010


God Comforts Us (if we ask!)

June 10, 2016

“Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our Father and the source of all mercy and comfort.  For He gives us comfort in our trials…” (2Corinthians 1:3-4, J. B. Phillips)

Suffering can drive us to God in such a way that we make this great discovery: God is there and God can comfort us.

There is supernatural quality of comfort that can be found in simply knowing God. God does not want us to go through life and never discover that God is there for us and will comfort us.  When you undergo a life-threatening surgery and you, completely alone, are being placed under the bright lights, remember that God is the ultimate source of the greatest comfort you can possibly experience in this lifetime.

As a pastor, I have frequently heard believers say that God met them in a supernatural and intimate way while they were going through a medical crisis.  Two weeks ago a man for whom I’ve been praying for twenty years wrote from another part of the country to say he has now come to faith.  God gave him that absolute assurance while he was undergoing a critical life-threatening surgery.

Many of us have known people we loved very much who are depressed and oppressed. They are nearly always alone and their pain is so intensely private they do not want any of the caring people in their lives to be with them.

Others believe their suffering is so personal they must place themselves in a self-imposed solitary confinement.  If that happens to you, I challenge you to make this great discovery: God is there, and God can comfort you!

Father of all mercy and comfort, make me know personally that You are the source of all comfort.  Comfort me in my pain, and when I feel alone and depressed, may I discover that You are there, You are real, and You can comfort me.  I pray in Christ name, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


When You Don’t Know What to Do

April 16, 2013

“We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You.”  (2 Chronicles 20:12)

No matter how gifted we may be, sooner or later we will hit a wall of crisis where we simply do not know what to do.  The Scripture quoted above is taken from an historical context when the people of God were overwhelmingly outnumbered and they simply did not know what to do.

The earthly half-brother of Jesus wrote that when we do not know what to do we should ask God for the wisdom we confess we do not have (James 1:5).  He promises us that God will not hold back but dump a truckload of wisdom on us.

Years ago I received a telephone call from my youngest daughter when she was a first year student at the University of Virginia.  With many tears she informed me that she had fallen down a flight of stairs and was sure she had broken her back.  At the hospital they had discovered mononucleosis and seriously infected tonsils that needed to be removed.  She concluded her “organ recital” litany: “Finals begin tomorrow and I just don’t know what to do, Daddy!”

Frankly, I was touched that my very intelligent young daughter believed that if she could just share her litany of woes with me and tap into the vast resources of my wisdom I could tell her what to do when she did not know what to do.

According to James that is the way we make our heavenly Father feel when we come to Him overwhelmed with problems and tell Him we just don’t know what to do.  That’s why a good way to begin some days is:

“Lord, I don’t know what to do but my eyes on you!”

 


A Panic Attack Prescription

March 18, 2012

“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!  Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’”  (Psalm 3: 1, 2)

As David writes the Third Psalm he is facing the greatest crisis of his life.  His son has turned the entire nation against him and has driven him out of Jerusalem into the wilderness where he hid from King Saul when he was a young fugitive.  His situation is so desperate that many people said that even God could not help him.  But in this psalm David explains how he knows God will be there for him; he is not having a panic attack so he gives us a prescription for one.

Observe the way David uses three tenses as he lays out his prescription that kept him from panicking.  He recalls that in the past there were many times when he cried out to God and the Lord heard him.  When he lay down to sleep not knowing if the enemy would slit his throat while he was sleeping, he awoke alive because the Lord sustained him.  He then declared that he will not be afraid of the thousands of people who wanted to see him dead.  He then declares in the present tense that God is with him and His present blessing is upon him.

When you are in crisis think back to times in the past when God met you and brought you through a crisis.  Then let those past answered prayers inspire you to trust God for the present and the future crises in your life.

Look back.  With faith, look forward.  Then look around at your present circumstances, not with panic but with faith and peace.


A question for New Year’s Eve

December 30, 2011

“Where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Genesis 16:8)

 The last days of the year are a good time for reflection and resolution.  Have you ever had a year that was so bad you could not live with the idea of another year of the same?  Are you there now? If you are, you could be ready to hear the question quoted above that God likes to ask people from time to time.

This is the consummate question of direction.  It implies that if we do not have a crisis that changes things, we are going where we have come from.

Sometimes we are the thing that needs to change. Jeremiah actually mocks us for trying to change ourselves: “Why do you gad about so much to change your ways? …  Can the Ethiopian change the color of his skin or the leopard its spots?  Then may you also do good, who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jeremiah 2:36; 13:23).

There is a big difference between trying to change ourselves and being changed by God.  Unless we are changed by God, or God changes what only He can change, we’re trapped in a cycle of going where we have come from.

With great spiritual discernment David asked God to create in him a new heart and God answered that prayer for him (Psalm 51:10).  God can do that today.  We’re not doomed to that cycle of going where we have come from.  We can be changed and God can change the things that must change so we will not go where we have come from next year.

Confess that you can’t change yourself or your circumstances, but believe God can as you enter the New Year… then watch at God work in 2012.