Yesterday morning there was a large section of the sermon notes that I did not have time to get to. I planned to conclude my message by talking about the benefits of trusting God during times of crisis – unfortunately I made the mistake of having an hour’s worth of material for a 30 minute time slot! Below you will find a brief summary of what I did not get to yesterday.
By way of reminder (or perhaps you weren’t at church yesterday), we look at the story of the father with the demon possessed boy in Mark 9. This stressed-out, heartbroken dad set an example for us regarding how to cope with times of severe crisis. First, we are to bring our problems to Jesus. He brought his boy to Jesus – that was the pivotal moment in the life of this struggling family. Secondly, we are to admit our doubts. I think one of the most real and powerful prayers we can pray is: “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” When we get real with Jesus, he does not reject us.
Continue reading for another few minutes to learn of a few of the perks of having faith in God even when life is hard…
THE BENEFITS OF FAITH IN THE FIRE
- Develops joy and peace (1 Peter 1:6-7, Philippians 4:6-7)
- God is a supernatural resource that can sustain you day by day, minute by minute in times of crisis. Some days it will feel like you are barely hanging on by your fingernails but the day will come when you will be able to look back and see that God was carrying you. God promises a supernatural strength to those who seek refuge in Him.
- Builds your character (Romans 5:3-4)
- The entire New Testament makes crystal-clear that one of God’s primary ways to make us more like Jesus is to allow us to endure trials. It is within the crucible of crisis that God matures us into warriors for Him. A little challenge: talk to a Christian who is at a more advanced life stage than you – someone whose faith you admire and respect – and ask them about the trials they have endured – I pretty much guarantee you that they will tell you stories that will curl your hair! It’s easy for us to look at other people in church and think they have a perfect family; they grew up in a perfect family; they’ve got plenty of money; they’ve never had any problems…but looks can be deceiving!
- Strengthens relationships (Proverbs 17:17)
- Times of crisis can tear families/relationships apart. But they also have the potential to make relationships deeper/stronger than ever before; very similar to soldiers who have shared a foxhole. In my 33 years of marriage with my wife Karen, we often cite the difficult trials we at endured has being the primary factor that has given our relationship staying power – we have bonded by enduring so many storms together.
- Gives you ministry opportunities (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
- It is amazing how God will intentionally bring people across your path who are currently going through what you’ve already been through. Our family went through a couple of very difficult years as our daughter Lacey suffered from severe headaches as a high school student. As a result, most of her high school years were spent at home with tutors and it took us years to get a proper diagnosis. She suffered greatly. Since then, I have been astounded at how many parents I’ve met who have children with severe and chronic headaches. I always feel like I can comfort and encourage them in a special way because I’ve “been there, done that”. Maybe God’s helped you overcome an addiction, endure cancer treatments or survive a difficult marriage – the chances are he will bring people across your path going through the very same thing. Use the opportunity to encourage them!
- Teaches you to let go (1 Peter 5:7)
- When the roof caves in we quickly learn that we were not as safe and secure as what we thought – and that in spite of our best planning, life can still go terribly wrong in a heartbeat. The bubble bursting truth: control is an illusion. I keep on my desk a drawing that my daughter Emily did for me a number of years ago. It depicts a man holding onto an elephant’s tail. I see it every day, and it reminds me to let go of the things I cannot control. I cannot manipulate my circumstances to keep me and my family safe. I must trust God for that.
- Pleases God (Hebrews 11:6)
- Without faith it is impossible to please God. It’s that simple. When my children were young it always pleased me immensely when they would ask me for help, when they would come to me in times when they were frightened or distressed. It was never a bother – as a loving father I wanted to be there for them, and so it made me happy when they looked to me for help. How much more our Heavenly Father?
We live in a broken world. Because that is true, all of us are either currently enduring a crisis, just coming out of a time of crisis, or about to enter into a time of crisis (without realizing it!). May God give you the gift of faith and the grace to cling to him when you feel bewildered and abandoned.