EXPLORING THE WORD
We Didn't Start the Fire...
But God will see us through it
By Dev Bradley
According to Mr. Joel, "We didn't start the fire, it was always burnin' since the world's been turnin'." Life has been interesting over the past few years. We have experienced wars, hurricanes, forest fires, school shootings, government officials who can't agree on anything, floods, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, recession, smart phones, societal decay, greed, selfishness, poverty, sin, and the list could go on forever. It seems like everything is stacked against us. Good grief, Christians can't even come to agreement on what we believe. Instead, we divide into different denominations so that everyone can have their own interpretation of biblical doctrine. As Christians we are supposed to be in the world not of it. So the thought that is nagging me this week, is how a Christian can be in this world without losing faith.
The apostle Paul asked Jesus to relieve him of the thorn that troubled him. Jesus did not do it; as far as I can tell, Paul had to deal with this thorn until he was executed. All of us have problems. If you are walking around on this planet you are going to have them. Not only do we have to deal with societal problems, but then we have to pile on family issues, personal problems, and personal sin. It can be completely overwhelming and discouraging. As Christians we are supposed to live by faith and not by sight, but what happens when we become overwhelmed and discouraged?
The Sunday School answer is that we pray and take everything to Jesus and it will all turn out okay. But what if Jesus doesn't answer our prayer the way we want Him to? I've made an observation over the past few years. Many Christians treat God like a vending machine. "I'm a faithful Christian, I'm going to take my requests and prayers to God and He will answer every prayer request with the answer I want." Thanks to our sinful nature, our selfishness, and our society, we've come to expect to get the answer we want. If we do, we're happy. When we don't, it just fuels the discouragement. Then anger enters the stage.
When I live in anger, selfishness, discouragement, and rebellion, and I take the reins out of God's hands and put them in my own, I crash and burn. I am casting aside my faith that is smaller than a mustard seed and living for myself. This is where many Christians start to have a crisis of faith. We don't know how to respond when God tells us no. I have heard so many people say, "You don't need to worry about my salvation. I have a relationship with Jesus. I am saved. I just don't understand why a powerful, strong, loving, generous, gracious God would allow me to be living with all these problems and misery? He is supposed to fix them for me and instead He just ignores them and me. Since God is not taking care of me I am going to take care of myself." This is the point where we stop putting our faith in God and start putting our faith in ourselves. Since we have free will, God allows us to take all the rope we need to hang ourselves.
God did not promise to give us everything we think we need and want. In Psalm 55:22 God states, "Cast your burdens upon the Lord and He will sustain you, He will never let the righteous be shaken." There is a big difference between sustainment and getting what we want. Here's the deal, we can't always get what we want, but God gives us what we need. He knows the number of hairs on our heads, and the number of breaths we will take in our lifetime. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us, and to stay with us wherever we go. He knows what we need. He can remove burdens or He can have us carry burdens, but He will always take care of us.
I used to repeat Proverbs 3:5-6 over and over again. It states, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." These verses are all about trust, right? Trust is an important part of these verses. However, there is another component that I overlooked for a long time: "lean not on your own understanding." Whoa, I kinda blew right past that part. These verses are about trust, sustainment, faith and direction. God promises that if we trust in Him, He will make our paths straight. He doesn't say that we will understand what is going on. He doesn't even say He will give us what we want. He says He will make our paths straight. He is with us every step of the way; just because we don't necessarily understand what is going on doesn't mean He has abandoned us. Sometimes He reveals His answers right away. Sometimes we have to wait for several years to get other answers, and sometimes we won't get some answers until we are in heaven. It definitely doesn't mean we should throw a temper tantrum and try to take back control of our lives. Fortunately, we have a loving, gracious and forgiving Savior. So the next time you are discouraged, angry, and ready to take control of your life, cast your burdens upon the Lord. You may not understand the answer, but you know He will sustain you and never ever abandon you.
Hang in there, because we are all in this together.
Photo Credit: amanda tipton; "Tantrum"; Creative Commons
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