(November 30, 2017) Robert and Maureen McQuillan encourage those going through challenging times, especially leaders who teach solid scripture truths…
Ever wonder which unrealistic idiot came up with ‘Just trust Jesus and everything will be absolutely fine in life’ or ‘The Christian life will be like a bed of roses so no worries’ or led new converts to think Christianity is ‘Easy Street to heaven’ – or that ‘Ministry’s great… all fame and glamour, no hassles.’
Probably some dodo man, think you wise realistic ladies!
The reality is that …
- Life is a gift from God, to be appreciated each new day and lived to the full as best possible.
- Ministry is a privilege, not to taken carelessly or irresponsibly as it must honour the Lord.
- Unfortunately we have a lying, distracting enemy!
- Although we can fully trust God and his word for our needs, we live in a fallen world.
- Life itself – not just Satan – can unexpectedly unleash furious storms against us!
Bad things happen, even to Christians!
The source of certain storms is not always our enemy (or only him) but life itself… that’s the way things happen in this fallen world! Bad things happen to good people as well as bad – just as the sun shines on the unjust as well as the just (Matthew 5:45).
Sometimes it’s a case of our own stupidity! For example: Supposing we were helping a friend but worked uncovered in a pouring thunderstorm and came down with some terrible illness – who is to blame? The friend? ‘Mother nature’? The devil? Oh how we foolishly blame so much on others – especially Satan!
Yes… sometimes it is the devil behind a lot of our troubles, and he attacks our faith to put us off track! That great liar and deceiver delights to distract, waylay, hinder, bluff, upset and especially destroy model marriages and effective ministries.
But… we shouldn’t go blaming the devil for everything that goes wrong! Life itself, even friends and family can throw some nasty curves at us.
Whatever the source of what we may be going through – that we see as ‘sufferings’ and hard times – let’s recall Paul’s comforting Romans 8 revelations about what Jesus has undergone and achieved for us. Verse17Message names it as ‘an unbelievable inheritance!’
Verse 18 is also so meaningful and encouraging: ‘I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times.’
‘Hard times’ – that’s pathema: something undergone… pain, hardship, affliction, suffering. Whatever any of us may be experiencing currently (whatever the true source); Jesus faced worse suffering that anyone has ever experienced to become our Saviour!
Think-spot: Churches are currently preparing for Christianity-based (not Santa Claus-based) Christmas celebrations of Christ’s incarnate arrival on this fallen world. In keeping with the heart of this article, let’s remember why a caring God arranged this miraculous, mysterious birth – Jesus’ Calvary suffering to ensure eternal hope for all!
Christ’s suffering was not just enduring mockery by his own people but a horrible, torturous death and the deeply emotional emptiness of awareness that his Father God was turning away from him. Oh Satan was at work, having a field day – but through his suffering Jesus offered free salvation to our fallen world!
Despite what he went though, in his time of pain and greatest need, Jesus set us yet another example – he deliberately trusted that Father God would not leave him but would be there for him and bring him through it all!
‘Walking the Talk’
Ever notice how ‘suddenly’ things go wrong in life? You’ve been enjoying God’s gift of life, faithfully following Jesus and serving him committedly in ministry – then suddenly, unexpectedly, out-of-the-blue…
Everything’s been going along so smoothly, so wonderfully – then suddenly, like panels in those old comics, it’s a case of large print crash, bam, wallop. Abruptly the lights have gone out… we’ve been zapped!
Yes, it can happen, even to the least of us let alone the greatest – maybe it’s happening to you at this time. Be encouraged… you’re not alone: Various kinds of unexpected nasties, including sicknesses, have been happening to certain followers and leaders in recent months.
Do note: If you’re involved in some area of ministry, maybe it’s proving to be a time of testing and you have to walk the talk! You’re being challenged to prove that you really do believe in what you’ve been talking about or teaching, that ‘your talk isn’t just cheap blabber.’
There’s an old saying in ministry circles – quoted in half-jest with a weak smile that hints of reality – ‘Be careful what you teach… talk can be cheap and you may have to prove that you really do stand firm on what you’ve preached. You could find yourself having to do so under strenuous circumstances!’
Praise God that such challenges don’t crop up every time a Bible teacher teaches – otherwise there’d a lack of top-class, soundly Bible-based expositions around! And we don’t go looking for such challenges… but we should be aware of their occasional possibility!
Whatever our kingdom role, we may be required to re-experience what we proclaim scripture clearly teaches. Eg: We suddenly find we have to live out what we’ve challenged others to believe and trust in! We have to walk the talk – and it can be a lonely road!
And sometimes that unexpected road can be one of strange illnesses! Without going into every detail, we’ll make it personal so you can relate with us on this matter of walking the talk…
Our current personal challenge
Now we’ve already declared that Christians shouldn’t blame the devil for everything that goes wrong – but note that many experienced ministers also confirm their awareness of Satan’s mischievousness.
John Piper, for example, mentions illnesses in a list of some of Satan’s wiles and strategies against Christian beliefs in his www.Christianity.com article (link below). Under the subheading He Attacks Faith to Destroy Believers, Pastor Piper declares that Satan ‘brings sickness (Job 1:11; 2:5; Luke 13:16).’
For decades we’ve taught that God is the healing God… but such healing is Divine Healing, not faith healing. We don’t blame Satan for every illness but we can trust our loving Father God and the healing promises in his word. (Some Christians have been wrongly taught it’s ‘faith healing and depends on your level of faith.’ Then when they don’t experience a healing or miracle, or release from pain, they so easily feel guilty of lacking faith and are not being good enough for God’s love, forgiveness and attention).
Teaching this scripture based divine healing truth at Freeway Church, Kwinana, WA back in September, I (Robert) boldly declared…
- Satan, our enemy, (as well as circumstances!) has been striking Christians with illnesses, even strange ones, for some time.
- Many leaders don’t teach that the fulness of the atonement isn’t only about forgiveness of sin and consequent full salvation (great and needy as that is!).
- Many churches haven’t been claiming scripture’s healing promises (and miracles) and sadly some leaders don’t even pray for the sick.
- I personally don’t teach so-called ‘faith healing’ as it is not biblical and has disillusioned many Christians, especially those weak in faith.
- Faith, even mustard seed faith (Matthew 17:20) is of course good, but it’s our simple trusting in Bible-based divine healing and the Father’s love that brings results.
- More leaders today should believe for and to claim more healings and miracles as this fallen world, let alone Christians, longs to know that God is real and cares for all our needs.
- What any sick and needy Christian should do in confidence is five-fold…
- Know what scriptures proclaim (such as 1 Peter 2:24, Exodus 15:26, Isaiah 53:5).
- Believe, pray, and trust (which may mean confidently patiently hanging in there!).
- Ask believing friends and church leaders to pray for us in faith.
- After praying, see a doctor, follow medical directions (including taking tablets/going to hospital).
- Understanding that number four is not a lack of faith but displaying wisdom as we trust God!
- Faith of course must be exercised by every Christian, not just pastors or leaders, who daringly claim scriptures such as Psalm 30:2 and believe for the Holy Spirit to move in response.
Several attendees with open hearts and minds came for prayer in response to this challenge and were blessed and touched. We believe that good things have been occurring there since as the senior pastor and others believe to move forward into all that God has for their church!
Standing firm on what we believe
Back to Maureen and me! Little did I know that a month later we’d both be challenged to walk the talk in this very area – or should I say, arena!
Over the years we’ve both personally experienced many divine healings and miracles in our own lives, for our kids’ and in those we’ve boldly prayed over directly or per phone or email. We’ve observed the Lord in action as we’ve stood firm on his word and what we teach and believe.
But suddenly (that out of-the-blue thing) we were both struck with strange illnesses… with Maureen (who hasn’t needed a doctor for 50 years!) rushed to the hospital and me experiencing excruciating pain, all leading to some scary moments/nights – even, as John Piper writes, being tempted and tested on our faith to drop ministry commitments (not that we consider ourselves special… but we share openly here to encourage those going similar circumstances, especially Bible believing ministries).
Yes, it’s been a rough time (still is) but we didn’t discontinue ministering to others… our policy has always been to confidently trust God, continue to believe scripture and prayer’s power so we go on ministering – whatever the cost or hindrance. We still walk the talk!
We remain confident in God and claim his promises, have certain friends backing us in prayer – and have wisely seen medical professionals (for whom we gives God thanks).
And in what’s been doing down, we’ve again recognised how the enemy takes advantage of every day circumstances and occurrences – and sicknesses – endeavouring to throw Christians and our leaders! Nevertheless, despite everything, we’ve remained dedicated to our ministry commitments… reaching out to others including leaders in counselling, mentoring, media involvement, praying. And, most importantly, hanging in there and still believing what God’s word teaches!
The good news is that God is faithful and continues revealing his love as we honour him, standing firm on what we believe and expecting the blessing of his continuing grace (See Dr Jim McClure‘s articles, link below).
Hassled? Stand staunchly
It’s easy for Satan at such times to whisper his lies and doubts in one’s ear! Thus it’s a great comfort to recall Watchman Nee’s classic comments on three key words from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (link below) –
- Sit – our position in Christ (2:6)
- Walk – our life in the world (4:1)
- Stand – our attitude to the enemy (6:11).
Nee points out that, having put on all of God’s armour (a great topic in itself), this is a sign of maturity in the Christian’s journey in life. Message Bible reads, ‘… so you will be able to stand up to everything the devil throws your way.’
That word ‘stand’ is histemi … to ‘continue, abide, establish, staunchly stand.’ No wonder Paul adds in verse 14NLT, ‘Stand your ground!’
In a dark and troubled world, let’s staunchly stand on our knowledge of what God’s word teaches and – even if we don’t get immediate answers every time – declare that troubled hearts can trust the Lord!
Churches next month will herald afresh Emmanuel – the King has Come! He has – may we his trusting subjects confidently proclaim that he brings us through every trial and test… including when we have to walk the talk and believe what we teach!
Being hassled? Be encouraged!