Life is hard for a lot of people right now. Just watch the news, and you’ll see a senseless war that’s been going on for far too long. Thousands of people have been killed. Millions more are homeless. And still the fighting continues. Cities are decimated. Lives are changed forever. Will the madness ever end?
In the greatest country on earth, we are in shambles. Someone leaked a very confidential piece of information earlier this year, and we’re even more unsettled than we already were. People are on edge. Whose right is more important, yours or mine? The born or the unborn? The markets have been tanking, while gas prices have risen. Interest rates are rising. We’ve been warned of shortages. Famine in some parts of the world are expected in the coming years. We wonder what this world is coming to.
And then even closer to home, we have someone who’s received a diagnosis that has shaken them to the core. Someone else has lost their job. Others are having difficulty making ends meet. And yet the sun comes up every morning and sets each evening. So we keep breathing in. Breathing out. And life goes on. Even if it’s hard. Life goes on.
A billionaire who once was the leader of the free world has announced he’s once again running for office. Many opinions float amongst us about that issue. Another billionaire just bought the largest social media platform. He’s unblocking all types of once censored information and blocking others who track his whereabouts. He’s causing heads to spin. He’s recently announced he isn’t suicidal. Just in case. And a third billionaire has been arrested for one of the greatest financial frauds of all times. Only time will tell what’s on the horizon for him and his victims. Do these men think their money can buy the safety and comfort of the world? Don’t they know that the Savior of the world has already been born? And he was killed by those deeply opposed to him.
We ask why all this is happening? Why now? Why?
Should we be afraid? Are we headed toward really difficult times? Will lives be at risk? Will we face a recession or depression? Or another lockdown? Will mandates become the norm? Are those some of the many questions swirling in people’s heads these days? Is this what we will call normal from here on out? People are anxious and unsettled, because life continues to throw twists and turns never before navigated.
Oh. There was once a large group of people. A nation. And they were afraid. There were headed on a journey to places unknown. God told them not to be afraid. He would fight for them every step of the way. He had fought for them as they were foreigners in a land for four hundred years. Now he was delivering them from slavery. And he had a magnificent plan laid out for them. All they had to do was obey him.
All they had to do was obey God.
He went before them as they traveled through the wilderness. He performed miracles in front of their eyes. He made a path in the middle of the river so they could walk on dry ground. He provided food when there was none. Their clothes didn’t wear out throughout this forty year journey. God was with them every step of the way. He provided for all their needs. All they had to do was obey him.
All they had to do was obey God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20
Oh. These people weren’t perfect. They complained. They disobeyed. They did their own thing. They turned from God. And they were punished. They learned the hard way that obedience always pays. God must be first. It’s that simple.
God planned to move them to the land he had promised them. He was with them throughout the journey. He knew the land they would settle in had everything they needed. Plenty of space for everyone. Plenty of food. Plenty of land for the livestock. Their new homeland was filled with abundant goodness.
God also knows our lives on this earth. He knows when we struggle to trust him. He knows when we’re fearful. He knows when we turn from him. He knows when life seems too much to bear. He has plans for us that are far beyond our imagination. But he also requires our obedience. God is able to provide abundantly more than we could ever hope or imagine. We must trust him, not only in the good times, but also in the trying times.
All we have to do is obey God.
Even during uncertain times, God is with us. We will be fearful when we face the unknown. We will be consumed with the cares of the day. But God is our refuge and strength. God’s abundance doesn’t necessarily mean material wealth or happiness. It means God is with us through all of life’s unexpected turns.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalms 46:1-3
If we’re God’s child, we are surrounded by him. So why do we fear when troubles come? He goes before us and he goes behind us. He paves the way. He fights for us, so we are to be still. We don’t need to fight. We are to obey. We must let God direct us. Our problem is that we want control. We want to be in charge of making decisions. We don’t want to follow God. We want to be God. And that can’t happen. That won’t ever happen.
So in our attempt to pave our own way, we forget that God is able through his mighty power to accomplish more than we could hope or imagine. He will walk with us through the darkest nights. He’ll be beside us when the waters surround us. He is in control. Always and forever.
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord ! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19
God is able to do so much more than we can imagine. But he only does those things that fit within his purpose. He could calm the raging storms of our lives right now. He could turn the tide in these uncertain times. He could heal every sick and hurting person. He could open doors that are closed. He could right all the wrongs that have ever been done to mankind. I’m not saying he won’t do these things. But he will if they fit his plan and purpose. And if his plan is for his people to go through deep trials and testing, then he will be with us. He won’t leave us to suffer alone. Oh sure. Suffering is hard. Pain is unbearable. Loss is unfathomable. But God is good. And God is good all the time.
We must separate our hard times from God’s goodness. In our difficulties, God is still good even though he allows those difficulties. He will walk with us through the storms of life and through the fires of oppression. He is the one and only holy God.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord , your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:2-3