Below are some thoughts I've been thinking about and reflecting on in my reading of Elisabeth Elliott's "Everlasting Arms" and Thomas a'Kempis "Imitation of Christ" and my own Bible reading. Thought I'd share these thoughts with you.
No doubt many of you have heard of the recent massacre on Mindanao island here in the Philippines.
Our Filipino friends are quite convinced that after the elections in May and the military presence around here lessens, there will be retribution killings.
It is a bit unnerving to see a tank driving down the road in Davao but Kurt and I did see one the other day.
More so we see trucks loaded with military driving around in Davao.
No doubt many of you have heard of the recent volcanic activity here in the Philippines.
And maybe some of you are aware of the 5.2 earthquake that was centered 25 miles outside of Davao City a few days ago.
And maybe some of you are aware of Mikayla's recent diagnosis of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome which causes her heart to skip beats and/or race at times. It's not life-threatening, just annoying.
And then there is the recent devastation in Haiti.....
Life can bring about many sorts of testings, trials, chances for anxiety to arise. Bad and terrible things do happen, even to Christians. The calming truth is that God's love endures, He will fulfill what He has started, His word stands, He ordains all the circumstances of our life, He will not abandon.
Faith requires a going out to,laying hold of, and resting upon the object of its confidence. (J.I. Packer)
If what we call 'our faith' means what we think God ought to do about a thing, it won't last long if He doesn't do it our way.
So something to ponder is this - how do you think Joseph felt when he'd been given dreams of ruling only to be sold as a slave by his brothers; what was Daniel thinking when he was dumped in a den of lions; what about Paul when he was beaten, ship wrecked, left for dead? John the Baptist was beheaded. The book of Hebrews tells about people who were sawn in two because of their faith.
But all held firm to their faith, despite their circumstances.
The question really needing to be faced is this "what is a Christian supposed to do when terrible things happen?"
I can see only two answers - either trust God or defy Him.
Faith really is an act of will. It is not some happy-go-lucky feeling. Feelings don't help much when facing lions, beatings, slavery, the cross (as Jesus our Saviour did), illness (yours or your child's), etc.
Faith is a choice, based on God's unbreakable Word. Our God cannot lie. Jesus showed us what love and obedience and sacrifice mean.
I think most of us will not face lions or prison or stonings. But living out our faith happens in the daily, humble, joyful and faithful obedience to Christ. He did the same going to the cross.
"It will mean the choice between faith and unbelief, between being honest on your income tax or cheating a little bit,..It will mean the surrender of what the world calls safety, and the acceptance of whatever sacrifice and suffering God may choose to send." (Elisabeth Elliott)
"What if's" and "what about..." need to be laid quietly at the feet of Jesus. Our rest, our hope is in Him.
Our light can shine to others when they see our faith and obedience despite the trials.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,.......
4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,...
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
6The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear.....
10 "Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!"
11The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.