Every day the news – whether TV, radio, emails or newspaper – hits hard with the latest bad reports from around the world, especially regarding the Middle East and Iraq in particular.
When current atrocities in Mosul were first announced a few weeks back we were extremely disappointed with the church we happened to be at that Sunday. Not one concerned prayer for Christians facing death by the sword unless they converted to Islam!
Yet the following week when we were ministering in an Assyrian church, prayer for the homeland was sincerely cried, God deeply worshipped and an offering taken up for Christians back in Iraq!
Aware that things were terrible back in the homeland and the future very uncertain for Christians, Jews and even some Muslims alike, we praised them for their prayers, especially for protection for Christians and ministers back there. (See The Buzz re ‘Bishop of Baghdad’ Canon Andrew White‘s refusal to leave despite personal danger and ISIS atrocities).
Thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes leaving only an estimated 200 in the city. Even some Muslims are terrified – ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is known for its harsh interpretation of Wahhabi Islam and its brutal violence directed at Shia Muslims and Christians in particular.
Other bad news in recent weeks recounted the horrifying missile destroyed Malaysian aircraft. Then other plane crashes, the huge gas explosion in Taiwan leaving 25 dead and 250 injured and West Africa’s worst ever Ebola outbreak – over 700 dead, missionaries flown home and World Health Organization warning that the situation could turn catastrophic if not contained.
Overall, it’s a time to be really trusting God!
One wonders where the world is heading! Bad news is everywhere it seems, terrorism is rampant and governments are struggling to bring peace but appear to have no concrete, lasting answers. Except that there is still so much for Christians and the church universal to achieve in missions and local evangelism, one could almost desire that the Lord would come back very soon and sort the world out!
Here in this land, we’re living in a fantastic country where peace is taken for granted. Yet we too can have problems, difficulties and challenges here. Despite being a prosperous nation with so much going for us, sickness – including the latest influenza threat – and financial difficulties are also rampant! Sadly even a lot of Christians are in deep trouble too, including mental health problems.
Trust Jesus, we say. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
It’s a common message that comes out in virtually every sermon or in Christian counselling times. Yet again and again as we counsel Christians in various locations, we find that so many are unable to give every difficulty over to the Lord and leave it there.
What is trusting God?
Ernest Hemingway once said, ‘The best way you can find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.’
In simple terms, trusting God is relying on him for everything…health, travel, safety, finance, marriage, family, home, possessions, food, clothing, job, education, friends – you name it!
No wonder Proverbs 3:6 tells us: ‘In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.’ GNB puts it this way: ‘Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.’
Trust…dictionaries tell us that the word means, ‘A firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.’ Over 150 times scripture speaks of trusting …the various biblical words used bear a common thread – that of totally relying on, fleeing to for protection, using as a refuge, depending on.
Christians are supposed to firmly believe God’s word and his promises to us. Life is wonderful but it constantly produces troubles. There is no room for doubt! We must firmly believe that God is almighty and has the ability to look after us throughout this life.
Psalms is an encouraging book…King David repeatedly wrote about trusting God no matter what. His continuing declaration was that God had never let him down as he trusted him, his love and his mighty power – no matter what would go wrong.
We can do this too – yet, despite many encouraging sermons, assuring scriptures and great testimonies by others, many Christians just can’t trust Jesus.
The reality is that if we’re going to make it in life, it’s time to let go and let God! We need to understand and accept that we’ve been chosen by God to enjoy life and for his particular purposes. Yes, we should acknowledge our problems but not dwell on them, instead dwell on what God has promised us and trust him for answers.
Remember the prodigal son?
The penny dropped one dark day when he realised that the reality of his dire circumstances was that he was in a pigsty and needed fatherly help. He had turned away from the father’s house with all its potential. He was missing out on his father’s protection, kindness, goodness, thoughtfulness, gifts, covering, love, provision and protection.
He quickly acknowledged that he was a sinner who needed to return to his father’s protection and ask his forgiveness. And he did; and his life was changed when he came into the father’s house under his cover and acknowledging him for who he was.
Jesus became our Saviour so that we could come into the Father’s house under his protection and blessing. Oh yes, things go wrong in life – we live in a fallen world – but our God is mighty as David declared repeatedly – and always ready to help.
Life is a precious gift from God and he wants the best for us. King David wrote about being under the protection of his vast wings. Let’s know afresh that he has great plans for each of us (Jer. 29:11) and that we have an appointed place here on earth to live under his pleasure.
Faith is the opposite to fear
Today many people around the world live in fear…even here in Australia despite having so much going for us. Fear eats up faith, holding us back from enjoying life and accomplishing wonderful things for others – and for the kingdom both here and overseas. Trusting Jesus is the opposite and defeater of fear!
Jesus’ first disciples lived in dangerous times too and were fearful, uneasy in following him; they had a desperate need to fully trust him. Knowing this and that soon he would not be around physically and they couldn’t run to him face-to-face for guidance, comfort and strength, he gave them some encouraging words and direction … ‘Do not be worried and upset. Believe in God and believe also in me’ (John 14:3). Other versions speak of not being troubled or thrown.
This is not only about that wonderful eternal life that awaits us! Jesus’ promise was that he would return so that they’d all be together. After his resurrection and return to heaven he did return – through sending the Holy Spirit! We have Jesus within and the powerful Holy Spirit to help us believe and trust more!
Sadly if we don’t trust him for everything then we’ll be living in crippling fear. 1John 4:18 states, ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.’
Faith is the opposite to fear and faith in Jesus the God of love means freedom from fear which cripples us in times of need.
Note that ‘throw’ or ‘trouble’’ means being agitated, stirred, edgy. So don’t go down those roads! Jesus understands our fears, timidity, feelings of inadequacy… everything that can throw us.
‘Trust’ or ‘believe’ is the word pisteuo meaning to have faith, to put one’s trust in, to commit to trusting. That’s the challenge today – are we really trusting Jesus completely? Do we ask for his help and leave it with him? Or do we try to take troubles back and worry? Or run to far too many others seeking only their prayers and help?
Yes, we should seek help and do whatever we can or have to do. But we must begin by committing to trusting Jesus completely.