Has your faith been tested in 2020 with a job lay-off , illness, school shutdown, scarce groceries, uncertainties about politics, strained relationships , conflicting messages from various sources , inability to attend church or concerns about the safety of attending ? Where did you turn for comfort and peace? Having fears is normal, but how we respond is what matters.
We’ve all heard wonderful stories of Christians whose faith was unwavering even in very stressful situations. Some of those people wrote hymns that became famous, such as Horatio G. Spafford who wrote “It is Well with my soul” after losing his four daughters at sea. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horatio_Spafford
Some have written about how their faith carries them daily through permanent disabilities . https://www.joniandfriends.org/ Still others have been called Heroes of the faith due to the way they lived out their faith even to the point of persecution or death. This category includes Bible heroes , missionaries, Bible smugglers, and anyone who risked their life to serve God.
All of these people have one thing in common. When their faith in God was tested, it held and ultimately grew stronger . We all want strong faith ! It’s the testing part that takes some getting used to. Satan and God both know our weak faith spots . Satan will use them against you , but God wants to make you stronger . Even the strong have at least one thing that can cause them great fear. You may not be able to see it , but inside they are terrified and casting about for a life preserver.
Here are just a few examples of things that can cause great anxiety that you may relate to: being asked to speak in public, job interviews, financial setbacks, relationship failures, cancer, getting caught in wrongdoing, wayward children , death of spouse or children or parents, job loss, public embarrassment, our physical looks not measuring up, not having the answers, phobias , or many other situations. A common thread in all of these is not being in control of our lives.
Yet we believers claim that we trust God fully ! We trust Him to forgive our sins, to heal our diseases, to let us into his kingdom, to help us when we pray , to guide our lives and help our loved ones. Or do we ?
2020 has put us all to the test. Did you find that your faith was weak and needed a little exercise? I hope that you immediately turned to the one who we can trust , our loving and faithful and never-changing sovereign God. But if you faltered and feared and tried to control the uncontrollable, you’re not alone ! The great toilet paper shortage was a pretty good sign of a collective panic attack, not that I’m against having a reasonable supply of groceries in case of unforeseen circumstances. But people buying cases and cases of toilet paper that would last them a year or more seems a bit extreme and emotional .
But let’s get even more specific about faith. Is there anything too hard for God? Do you take ALL of your fears and problems to him , fully trusting that God is ABLE to help you if He wills? Will you bare your soul to him and ask him to reveal any weak spot that you’re holding back ? Maybe a pet sin that you kinda want to stop doing, but don’t think you can and haven’t asked God’s help with?
Maybe you have trouble with overeating, drinking , anger , resentment, prescription drugs, laziness, depression, greed, vanity , or sexual sins , but you don’t trust God to help you because that’s your weak spot and the devil is keeping you stuck in secret shame or denial so that you don’t take it to God. Ouch! The devil will tempt you to sin and then he will shame you for it! He will lie to you and tell you God doesn’t really love you, he can’t help you, you are hopeless, or you don’t need to change, your sin isn’t that bad . “Nobody’s perfect!” “Everyone does it!” Don’t fall for the lies.
Or maybe you’re no longer controlled by those kind of sins and your weak spot is in a good thing that you feel very responsible for. If you are the financial provider for your family, you probably feel quite concerned anytime your source of income looks like it could be at risk . But God knows your needs! He says he will never leave us and he will take care of us. He works all things together for our good for his glory . He is in control even when we can’t see it. Or maybe it’s the fear of a loss of a relationship that is your source of security and self-worth and love . But God wants to be our source for all of those things and we get our worth from him ! And if your marriage fails , because that does happen even when we pray and do the right thing, then you can trust that God will carry you. Even if people let us down and hurt us or abandon us, God is with us. If our children do not follow the Lord, we continue to pray but we must trust God to save them, not ourselves. Cling to his loving arms.
We must trust him with the things that matter most . Our marriage , children, finances, health, self-image. Only when we put God first in our lives and base our faith on his promises and his character can we have true security and contentment even when there is real trouble, pain and loss . God’s grace is the power that helped all of the great heroes of the faith and he will give it to you ! Ask him for more grace . His supernatural power is greater than anything the world can do to you .
2020 has been a year to either grow in our faith or fall into the traps of self-reliance or hopelessness. Neither one will bring the peace that God will give you when you fully lay your burdens and fears at his feet. Instead of trying to fix everything in your own power, will you seek Him and his wisdom? Will you trust that he is willing and able and good ? Don’t put limits on God’s power! The more you trust him, the more you will find him worthy . I hope you’ll surrender to him today !
1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. – James 4:1-10