(October 28, 2016) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share …
Chatting to a friend recently it was a delight to hear him share what was a fresh revelation to him: ‘At last I know what faith is really all about – it’s about trusting, really trusting Jesus. I know you guys have been telling me that for years – but I didn’t get it! I never realised that I had to let go and let God! Now I am… no matter even if something I need God to do, have prayed about in humble faith, doesn’t seem to be working out, I can still trust him, knowing that Jeremiah 29:11 scripture you keep reminding me about is for real, for me!’
Good news revelation indeed. And something we all need to get a grip of… after all, any new day can bring forth some storm clouds out of the blue, something unexpected can eventuate, something can go wrong. And that’s life!
Every day is God’s good day!
Ever notice how sales assistants, especially in supermarkets, have set ‘welcoming’ patterns? You bring your groceries to the checkout, the girl (or guy) usually smiles, doesn’t necessarily look you in the eye, but starts scanning those groceries. As they punch in the first couple of items, regularly we hear them say (oh, let’s be generous … ‘ask’) ‘How’s your day been?’ and, again without looking at you, continues with their checking items through the system.
Now of course, many are genuine but naturally they have to concentrate on their work beyond that store pattern of ‘How’s your day been?’ (even if it’s only nine in the morning). We appreciate all those hardworking assistants whether young or not so young – we’re grateful for their services.
But every now and then we cause them to pause in their work for a moment and think. How? We respond to their cliché by saying very simply, ‘Every day’s a good day, no matter what! It’s great to be alive!’ Sometimes we add ‘It’s yet another God-given day!’
Every time we say this, the shop assistant pauses and comments something along the line of ‘Hey, that’s good. I like that. That’s a great way to think, to be.’ Then she (or he) happily gets on with their checking.
What had we done? Beyond giving them something to consider, many times we’ve actually cheered them up. Often, even though they’re continuing to concentrate on their work, they chat further.
The point here is that every day is indeed a God-given day and everyone, especially Christians, should be thankful for it. We need to keep on remembering that God is our God, he is with us, for us, and has a good plan for us beyond anything that we had already thought of doing.
And as we embrace each new day, yes, there is always the possibility that something unexpected may crop up, something could go wrong, some accident or disaster could easily occur! Oh we’ve no doubt prayed first thing and committed the day to the Lord – but we still live in a fallen world, sin and sickness – and the devil – are all still around!
Should we be expecting trouble? Of course not – to do so is in itself a denial of the fact that our God cares so much for us, that he is the exceptionally great heavenly Father!
Unfortunately, life is life!
But, being realistic, trouble can pop up, sometimes trouble of our own making. Jesus warned about this in Luke 6:24-26 (Message), ‘But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made. What you have is all you’ll ever get. And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself. Your self will not satisfy you for long. And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games. There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it. There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them.’
Paul had something to say about life troubles too, especially craving after finance! ‘Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble’ (1 Tim. 6:10). Even, he warned, through being dedicated to Jesus: ‘Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there’s no getting around it’ (2 Tim. 3:12).
As we know he was one Christian who seemed to find himself in trouble again and again. When preaching on Paul, many times we would jokingly say that whenever Paul hit a new town to preach the good news, he never asked, ‘How are the motels around here?’ but rather ‘How are the gaols around here?’
Yes, unexpected things came up in Paul’s everyday living. But apart from trusting his God, he himself took heart from how others were handling similar troubles in life – ‘In the middle of our trouble and hard times here, just knowing how you’re doing keeps us going’ (1 Thes. 3:7). In turn he encouraged the Thessalonians, ‘All this trouble is a clear sign that God has decided to make you fit for the kingdom’ (2 Thes. 1:5).
So then, how can we best deal with those out-of-the-blue troubles?
Five easy (and comforting, reassuring) suggestions…
1. Every day is the Lord’s!
Remember scriptures such as Psalm 118:24, ‘This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.’
What a popular number this was decades ago when those great Garrett choruses fresh from New Zealand really helped us to remember scripture! How could trouble hang around for long after singing or humming that breezy, powerful little song! We readily emphasised the ‘will’ word, knowing that ‘rejoice’ inferred ‘spinning around under the influence of a violent emotion’ and that ‘glad’ meant ‘to brighten up.’
2. God knows best
Remember that great Jeremiah 29:11 scripture is not only for Israel of old but for Christians today, ‘I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.’
Now that’s comforting indeed! Before we fall asleep we can even link it with the Message version of the psalm above, ‘This is the very day God acted— let’s celebrate and be festive!’ A looking back and being so very thankful!
3. Genuine prayer
But what if we’ve stepped out of line with God? 2 Chronicles 33 tells of a twelve-year-old boy becoming king of Israel. He was soon in hot water troubles and really blew it as far as being a good king with godly influence over his people was concerned. He ended up captive to a foreign power.
Verses 12 and 13 tell of the moment of change – ‘Now that he was in trouble, he went to his knees in prayer asking for help – total repentance before the God of his ancestors. As he prayed, God was touched; God listened and brought him back to Jerusalem as king. That convinced Manasseh that God was in control.’
The rest of his story is a good one of spring-cleaning results not only for himself but for Israel too. Point? Even when trouble is the result of our own stupidity, prayer with genuine repentance works! Again it’s that longstanding case of letting go and letting God!
4. Trusting that you won’t go under
Isaiah28:16 states emphatically that a rock that won’t crumble. No, not the rock, Jesus Christ, but us – ‘Watch closely. I’m laying a foundation in Zion, a solid granite foundation, squared and true. And this is the meaning of the stone: A trusting life won’t topple.’
As Christians we can consider ourselves spiritual Zion so let’s take this scripture to heart!’
Trouble hit you? Prayed for something from God and expecting his free grace to bring the answer? In Romans 4:16, Paul states strongly, ‘The fulfilment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it.’
5. Faith is trusting, therefore seemingly a risk
Of course it is! For years we’ve taught ‘This is how Christians really spell “Faith” – RISK!’
But this is more than just a light joke! There’ll always be a risk of will it work or not. But we’ve got to really trust God, even believing that if it doesn’t work out as we hoped, then God has a better plan ahead!
We like what Jesus said in Matthew 9:21 to the woman in longstanding trouble: ‘She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned – caught her at it. Then he reassured her: “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.”’
Faith and trust, a risk? Not really… more an acknowledgement that God is in control.
God wants us to trust him!
The Christian life experience is one of growth in Christ, of trusting completely in him, no matter what goes wrong or doesn’t seem to be happening as we’d wish of believing in his word, of relying on the supernatural Holy Spirit.
God wants us to trust him – that’s what faith is all about. Trusting that he’ll work things out his way for us because he cares! Such trust in him alone is wiser, better than having confidence in people alone – as Psalm 118: 8/9 advises. Interesting that the Message Bible says ‘celebrities.’ We should never put anyone, even church leaders on pedestals!
There’s an old saying that goes something like this: ‘Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation!’ We like that!
But perhaps Jesus’ commendation of Revelation 2:19 wraps up this article best: ‘I see everything you’re doing for me. Impressive! The love and the faith, the service and persistence. Yes, very impressive! You get better at it every day.’
Let’s take this all to heart – and, don’t forget – encourage others too. Even reaching out to a checkout assistant who may have just be mistreated by a thankless nasty customer. Love goes a long way– even in the marketplace of life. Jesus was a marketplace witness!
(Scripture emphases ours)
Great counsel, Robert and Maureen. You quoted verse 24 of the awesome 118th Psalm; meditating also on verses 8 and 9 we see in whom our trust should be placed…and in whom we should not trust, praise God.
Thanks guys, helping us keep perspective, we never know when a contrary wind may blow, but we can know the One who never leaves us or forsake us. The old hymn says ‘Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do … brighten the corner where you are.’ Lord, help me to be a light for you!