Sage advice, in any case… that is, to “just trust Jesus!” I’ve given that advice many times, I am sure, and yet have felt a bit of hollowness after speaking it—I gave my daughter that advice with a slight variation recently and didn’t feel the same “excusing myself from your problem” as I have at other times.
My message was, “Praying that you will be at peace and trust God for your job!” I’m a little bit embarrassed to be sharing this and I can imagine she is less than thrilled to have me write about it; however, the Holy Spirit has been speaking to my heart about how I/we can effectively support others when they are experiencing “stormy seas” in their jobs, their relationships, and the many obstacles that the enemy throws in our paths to derail us from intimacy with God.
With internet viruses, phone scams, and a myriad of ways for people to defraud others popping up every day, our trust is something we are wise to guard. We need to have a history with and an intimate knowledge of a person before we open our lives up to them. That speaks of time—time to experience life together and get to know one another—and it speaks of a commitment to the relationship.
Perhaps better advice for a friend, an acquaintance—or ourselves—and anyone who is experiencing difficult or trying circumstances is to know Jesus. I have experienced the faithfulness and goodness of God through the trials in my life—there have been some deep wounds from my childhood and as an adult. I know the faithfulness of God to heal the broken-hearted (Isaiah 61:1) because of the joy in my heart and the “garment of praise” (Isaiah 61:3) covering my life. I also think that our healing will become complete only when we see Jesus and He wipes “away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, [and] the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
We have this amazing resource, the Bible, which God has preserved through the ages, that reveals who He is and His character; and yet sometimes it feels like drudgery to read or to meditate on the Word. I’m guessing that has a lot do with what we may unconsciously think about the Scriptures. Some parts of it are easy to read, while others are a challenge. No part of it is without significance, though. In fact, the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, identifies the Word of God as the “Sword of the Spirit”, an offensive weapon in the war “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:17, 12).
I write about spiritual warfare quite a bit, but I am also amazed at how quickly I forget that there are invisible factors at work all around us; and the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Of course, the enemy would not want us to grow in our knowledge of and intimacy with Jesus! Naturally, by their very nature, demons would want to disable our use of the weapon given us to cause them harm!
One strategy of the enemy is to treat the Bible like a smorgasbord, picking and choosing the parts we like, agree with, or feel comfortable with, and disregarding or discounting the rest—in particular, writing-off portions of scripture that pertain to marriage, the beginning of life, and the justice and judgment of God in response to pride, idolatry, and rebellion – sin!
And the assaults, verbal, physical, and financial, against “fundamentalist” or “evangelical” Christians, those who believe the Bible and commit to sharing the Good News, are growing—knowing Jesus comes at a cost; however, a very insignificant one in the light of eternity and experiencing “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Another phrase we can be careless in using with someone experiencing pain or thorny circumstances is, “I’ll pray for you.” My hope is that the Holy Spirit will ignite in me the commitment to pray every time I say that I will! I do not want to be lazy in prayer because prayer is powerful. Yet often, because our expectations and timing are not met and we do not perceive what God is doing in the unseen realm, we are too quick in abandoning the powerful resource we have in prayer.
All too often, we lose the heart; however, Jesus recognized our weakness when it comes to prayer: “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, “Give me justice against my adversary.” For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, “Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.”’ And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’” (Luke 18:1-8).
We have an adversary, the devil (1 Peter 5:8), who does not want justice for God’s people. We also have Someone who represents us before the Father, one who “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
Completing the “suiting up” of our armor is the admonition, “…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For,
‘Whoever desires to love life
And see good days,
Let him keep his tongue from evil
And his lips from speaking deceit;
Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’”
1 Peter 3:8-12