Effective Prayer (James 5:13–20)

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr. Book of James

The gift of speech is a marvelous blessing, if it is used to the glory of God. Prayer is certainly a high and holy privilege. As God’s children, we can come freely and boldly to His throne and share with Him our needs! The mature Christian is prayerful in the troubles of life. Instead of complaining about his situation, he talks to God about it, and God hears and answers his prayers. Perhaps one of the greatest weaknesses in the average church today is in the area of prayer. The reason for this weakness may be traced to insensitivity. James encourages us to pray by describing four situations in which God answers prayer:

1. Prayer for the Suffering (5:13)

As God’s people go through life, they often must endure difficult circumstances that are not the result of sin or the chastening of God. Suffering should elicit prayer. The greatest assistance any believer can offer another is faithful prayer. Prayer is clear evidence of care. Prayer is the “hotline” to the One who can provide for any need no matter how complex or impossible it may seem. To share in prayer, a believer must have sensitivity to someone’s needs, engage in diligent supplication for those needs, and recognize the significance of those needs.

What should we do when we find ourselves in such trying circumstances? We must not grumble and criticize those who are having an easier time of it; nor should we blame the Lord. We should pray, asking God for the wisdom we need to understand the situation and use it to His glory. Prayer can remove affliction, if that is God’s will, but prayer can also give us the grace we need to endure troubles and use them to accomplish God’s perfect will (Read: Turning Trials into Triumphs).

2. Prayer for the Sick (5:14–16)

A great deal of misunderstanding has resulted from these verses. Some teach that full physical health is always just a prayer away, but James was not giving a blanket formula for healing the sick in these verses.

The heart of the problem lies in just what James meant when he referred to the “sick.” What did he mean? He was not referring to physical illness, but rather weak faith. James wrote to those who had grown weary, who had become weak both morally and spiritually in the midst of suffering. These are the ones who “should call” for the help of “the elders of the church.”

The church leaders were instructed to encourage the timid and help the weak. The “prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well [restore him from discouragement and spiritual defeat] and the Lord will raise him up.” That the restoration is spiritual, not physical, is further clarified by the assurance, “if he has sinned, he will be forgiven.”

Many physically ill Christians have called on elders to pray for them and to anoint them with oil, but a sizable percentage of them have remained sick. This fact suggests the passage may have been mistakenly understood as physical restoration rather than spiritual restoration. Those who claim God heals every case, and it is not His will for His children to be sick are denying both Scripture and experience. But where we have the inner conviction from the Word and the Spirit that it is God’s will to heal, then we can pray “the prayer of faith” and expect God to work (Read: My Testimony).

The conclusion is clear: “therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other.” A mutual concern for one another is the way to combat discouragement and downfall. The cure is in personal confession and prayerful concern. The healing is not bodily healing, but healing of the soul.

3. Prayer for the Nation (5:17–18)

When wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel led Israel away from the Lord and into the worship of Baal, God punished the nation by holding back the rain they needed (1 Kings 17–18). For three and one half years the earth was dry and unable to produce the crops so necessary for life.

Then Elijah challenged the priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel. All day long the priests cried out to their god, but no answer came. Elijah prayed once and fire came from heaven to consume the sacrifice. He had proven Jehovah is the true God.

But the nation still needed rain. Elijah went to the top of Mt. Carmel and fell down before the Lord in prayer. “He prayed earnestly [persistently].” He continued to pray for rain until his servant reported “a cloud the size of a man’s hand.” There was a great rain and the nation was saved.

Too many times, we fail to get what God promises because we stop praying. It is true we are not heard “for our much praying” (Matt. 6:7); but there is a difference between vain repetitions and true believing persistence in prayer.

Elijah prayed for his nation and God answered his prayer. We need to pray for our nation today, that God will bring conviction and revival, and “showers of blessing” will come to the land.

4. Prayer for the Wandering (5:19–20)

These verses deal with our ministry to a fellow believer who wanders from the truth and gets into sin. Those who have lost their way are the “sick ones” in the church family.

To wander suggests a gradual moving away from the will of God. The Old Testament term for this is “backsliding.” Sad to say, we see this tragedy occurring in our churches regularly. Sometimes a brother is “overtaken in a fault” (Gal. 6:1); but usually the sin is the result of slow, gradual spiritual decline.

Believers have a responsibility to fellow-believers who stray. The wandering one needs to be turned back to the Lord and brought back to the fold. A wandering believer cannot move ahead again on the path toward spiritual maturity until he or she is restored. James urges fellow-believers to get in their way, head them off, and turn them back. The rescue action is of great significance!

Many of us must admit when we see a Christian straying, we have a tendency to excuse ourselves from responsibility by saying, “It’s none of my business.” Or we think our responsibility begins and ends with praying for the backslidden. But James instructs us to lovingly confront them with their straying and tenderly call them back to the Lord.

If we are going to help a wandering brother or sister, we must have an attitude of love, for “love will cover over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). This does not mean love “sweeps the dirt under the carpet.” Where there is love, there must also be truth (“speaking the truth in love,” says Paul in Eph. 4:15); and where there is truth, there is honest confession of sin and cleansing from God. Love not only helps the offender to face his sins and deal with them, but love also assures the offender that those sins, once forgiven, are remembered no more.

* This brings us to the end our series in James. I hope and pray you have enjoyed and benefitted from this study as much as I have.

https://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/effective-prayer-james-513-20/

VIDEO Growing in the Valleys – Persecution for U.S. Christians – MacArthur to Biden – Overcoming an Intimidating Culture

by Greg Laurie on Jan 15, 2021

I’m glad I don’t know the future. It would be very troubling to always know what will happen next. And of course, if I knew certain things were going to happen, I’d do my best to make sure they didn’t happen. Not only that, but there would be other things I’d try to make happen sooner, and I’d mess everything up.

Jesus, being God, had complete foreknowledge. He knew exactly what was ahead of Him. He knew that His disciples would forsake Him. Worst of all, He knew that although He was sinless, He would take all the sin, corruption, and filth of the world upon Himself and be momentarily separated from God the Father when He became the sin sacrifice for humanity.

Jesus wasn’t looking forward to this, but He knew it had to be done. And at the halfway point on His difficult journey, He experienced a significant event.

Leading up to this moment, a conversation took place between Jesus and the disciples at Caesarea Philippi, where He asked them, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13 NLT).

They offered various answers, and finally Peter got it right, saying, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (verse 16). So Jesus commended Peter for his insightful statement.

From that point on, Jesus began to declare to the disciples how He must suffer many things at the hands of the elders and chief priests, be crucified, and rise from the dead on the third day. This was a new movement in the ministry of Jesus where He openly and clearly addressed His certain future.

And Jesus apparently believed the time was right for some of His disciples, specifically Peter, James, and John, to have a greater glimpse of His glory.

I find it interesting that Jesus singled out these three on a number of occasions. It might lead us to believe they were sort of the spiritual elite. And that’s one way to look at it.

But here’s another perspective: maybe they just needed spiritual attention. For instance, when I was in school and got into trouble, the teacher would say, “Greg Laurie, come up here and sit right next to my desk so I can keep my eye on you.”

I wonder if Jesus thought, “I want to keep an eye on you boys.”

Don’t forget that James and John wanted to call fire down on people who weren’t hospitable toward them. That’s why they were known as the Sons of Thunder. And of course Peter needed attention as well.

Whatever the reason, Jesus singled out Peter, James, and John for a rare privilege: to witness His transfiguration. There on the mountaintop, Jesus’s garments “became as white as light” (Matthew 17:2 NLT). His face shined like the sun. And the fact that Moses and Elijah were there speaking with Him only added to the drama of that wonderful day.

We might think the miracle was that Jesus shined like the sun. That was a supernatural demonstration, but I don’t think it was a miracle. I think the real miracle was what happened on all the other days when Jesus didn’t shine like that.

The Transfiguration wasn’t so much a new miracle. Rather, it was the temporary ceasing of a habitual one. In other words, Jesus was God. For Him to shine was not a great feat. A greater feat was for Him not to shine all the time. Jesus veiled His glory.

In the New Testament book of Philippians, we read that Jesus “gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (2:7–8 NLT).

Jesus never stopped being God. But He laid aside the privileges of deity and walked among us as a man.

So at the Transfiguration, He was effectively saying to Peter, James, and John, “Take a look and see who I really am.” He let His glory shine out.

And who wouldn’t be dazzled by such a display? It was so wonderful, so awe-inspiring, in fact, that Peter wanted the moment to last forever. He blurted out, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (verse 4 NLT).

When something wonderful happens, our natural inclination is to hold on to it, to freeze it in time and never let it go. But God doesn’t want us to build our tabernacles in the place of glory when the world is in flames.

Waiting for Peter, James, and John at the bottom of the mountain was cold, hard reality. They learned that we can’t always have mountaintop experiences. On those occasions when we do, they’re preparing us to live in the valleys.

The real character that God develops in our lives usually doesn’t happen in those great moments when we bask in glory as much as when we’re in the valley of reality, putting into practice what we’ve learned.

As this world grows darker, our tendency is to want to withdraw into our own subculture instead of realizing there’s a world out there in need. We may think, “Oh, I wish I could find a Christian city. We could have a Christian mayor, Christians on the city council and Christians on the police force. Everyone would be Christians, and that would just be wonderful.”

But God doesn’t want us to build a Christian city on this Earth; rather, He wants us to reach the world with the gospel. So we have to come down from our mountaintops. We have to come down from our emotional experiences and live this Christian life in the real world.

Often after the great works of God in our lives, there will be challenges. But don’t dread them. Just keep moving, keep growing, and keep learning.

For our small faith to become great faith, we must apply it. We must use it and stretch it. And we must avoid the temptation of spiritual slumber and laziness so we don’t miss out on what God is doing.

Learn more about Pastor Greg Laurie.

This article was originally published at WND.com.


Persecution for U.S. Christians Could Come Quicker Than You Think

“Come on man,” get with the program. Joe Biden and his congressional allies on Capitol Hill hope to pass a new domestic anti-terror law. Guess who it may soon be targeting. Rod Dreher explains on this segment of “Where in the World.”


MacArthur to Biden: “You’d better be careful when you put your hand on God”

On 1 24 2021 #JohnMacArthur gave a scathing rebuke of #Biden ‘s Inaugural address, a rebuke that all Christians should affirm and defend. [ We affirm and defend the rebuke]


Elijah: Overcoming an Intimidating Culture | Dr. David Jeremiah

Our society is tolerant of almost everything except biblical Christianity, and that can put us on the defensive. Today, Dr. David Jeremiah studies the life of Elijah and shows us how we can overcome our timidity as we follow Christ.


VIDEO Elijah: Uncouth and obedient to God

Lessons from life of extraordinary prophet

by Greg Laurie

As one of our anthems, my generation sang “Forever Young.” We celebrated youth, and it’s been hard for us to let go of it. Yet our generation, the baby boomers, are aging.

Some of us have entered retirement, and most of us are in denial. We cannot stop the inevitable marching of time. So we should think about what we are leaving behind. What kind of legacy will we leave for the next generation?

In the Old Testament we find the story of Elijah, a great prophet who thought about this very thing. With a message from God, he burst onto the pages of biblical history seemingly out of nowhere. And his departure was as dramatic as his entrance.

Elijah was an uncouth kind of fellow. He spent a lot of time in Israel’s outback, if you will. But one day he arrived at the court of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel with a pronouncement: “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1 NKJV). Then he turned around and walked out.

Afterward there was a drought for three years, exactly as God had said there would be. Then Elijah reemerged on the scene and challenged the prophets of Baal to a duel on Mount Carmel. God won that challenge by sending a stream of fire on the sacrifice Elijah had prepared. Then the prophets of Baal were destroyed.

You would have thought a miracle like that would have convinced Ahab and Jezebel to believe in the Lord God. But they did not believe. Jezebel became even more hardened in her sin and ultimately reaped the consequences of it. King Ahab died as well, defeated on the battlefield, manipulating to the very end. When it was all said and done, Elijah was vindicated.

I believe the reason Elijah was so bold was because he knew God. Notice he had said to King Ahab, “As the Lord God lives, before whom I stand …” (emphasis added). Elijah was cognizant of the fact that wherever he went, he stood consciously in the presence of God. This awareness of God’s presence gave Elijah the courage to stand his ground.

Elijah also was a man of prayer. The Bible tells us that “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!” (James 5:17 NLT). It was Elijah’s prayer in private that was the source of his power in public.

And notice the Scriptures say that he prayed earnestly. After he called on the Lord to send fire down on Mount Carmel, he then prayed for the Lord to bring an end to the drought. He prayed earnestly, with desperation.

Six times he sent his servant to look toward the sea for any clouds. Finally, on the seventh try, the servant reported to Elijah there was one tiny cloud. However, it was so small that it was about the size of a man’s hand.

It was all the encouragement Elijah needed. He essentially told King Ahab, “You’d better get in your chariot and beat a quick path to the palace, because there’s a storm coming.” And sure enough, the rain came.

That’s the interesting thing about prayer. Sometimes we’ll pray for something and won’t see an answer. We will pray again, and there’s still no answer … seemingly. We will pray again. Nothing. Then one day out of nowhere, there’s a breakthrough. Be encouraged by that. And keep praying. Don’t give up.

In addition to being a man of prayer, Elijah was a man of faith and obedience. After his bold pronouncement to King Ahab, God told him to just go and hang out – to fade into obscurity. And to Elijah’s credit, he did.

The victory on Mount Carmel took place three and a half years after Elijah’s pronouncement that a drought was coming. He went and stayed by a little brook, which he drank from, and ravens brought food to him every day.

Yet Elijah had his low moments, too. He spent time with a widow and her son, depending on them for his sustenance. It was very humbling for someone like Elijah. But he was obedient to God.

And after his contest with the prophets of Baal, you would have thought Elijah would have been fearless, unstoppable. But when Queen Jezebel heard that the prophets of Baal were dead, she sent a message to Elijah, saying, “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them” (1 Kings 19:2 NLT).

Ironically, Elijah ran for cover. He was so despondent, in fact, that he told God he was ready to die. I have found that low lows often come after high highs. We are just human. We shouldn’t attach too much significance to these things.

Elijah had been a faithful representative of God. He had done the work God called him to do. Then it was time for him to leave, so he wanted to invest in the life of another. In the same way, we should be investing in the lives of others.

No man is an island, as it’s been said. What we do affects others. And maybe the reason we are reluctant to invest in others is because we’re aware that we are not what we ought to be.

How about asking God to help you be the person he has called you to be? Maybe you aren’t ready for huge things, but you are ready for something. God is not looking for ability as much as he is looking for availability.

We don’t know when this life of ours will come to an end. That is up to God. So let’s make our lives count until then.

Leave a legacy. Live a godly life.

 

 

https://www.wnd.com/2019/07/elijah-uncouth-and-obedient-to-god/


Testament – The Bible in Animation – Elijah


Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference

2 Kings 2

The end of Elijah’s ministry is approaching, and it is soon time for him to be taken away by the Lord to Heaven. A reading of the text reveals that this was not a surprise to any of the people described as taking part. Evidently Elijah, Elisha and the company of 50 prophets who accompanied them all seemed to know that the departure of Elijah was coming soon.

The story itself is short and to the point. After some back and forth, between Elijah and Elisha, Elijah miraculously parted the waters and he and Elisha crossed on dry land. After one more exchange between the two, a fiery chariot appeared and…Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind.

It’s that final exchange we are going to talk about briefly today. Here it is: “And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.” 2 Kings 2:9

Some questions are important; this one was. When Elisha witnessed the miracle of the parting waters of the River Jordan, he knew God’s power was in play; he could have asked for anything. What did he ask for anyway? He wasn’t asking for twice the miracle performing power of his mentor, although he certainly did far more miracles than Elijah had done. He certainly wasn’t asking for twice as much of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not some force that is given in increments; we get all of Him or have none of Him. Rather than try to force my own words into this answer, I will just share that John McArthur had to say because I think he said it perfectly.

“In Israel, the firstborn son inherited a double share of his father’s possessions and with it the right of succession (Deut. 21:17). “A double portion of your spirit” was not merely Elisha’s request to succeed Elijah in his prophetic ministry, since the Lord had already revealed this succession in 1 Kin. 19:16–21. Nor was it Elisha’s desire for ministry superior to Elijah’s, though Elisha did, in fact, do twice as many recorded miracles as Elijah. Apparently, Elisha was asking to succeed Elijah in the prophetic office, as God had promised, with spiritual power beyond his own capabilities to meet the responsibilities of his position as Elijah’s successor. He desired that Elijah’s mighty power might continue to live through him.”

This was much wisdom from Elisha, and no doubt this was a test to see what he would ask for. What do we want? Do we want a powerful ministry that spotlights us and makes us look like heroes? Or do we want great things, beyond our capabilities, that will showcase the greatness of God?

https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2019/07/04/elijah-how-one-man-made-a-difference-part-19/

How Road Trips Teach Me to Trust Jesus

As I approach this season of pilgrimage, Scripture offers me a theology of travel.
COURTNEY ELLIS

How Road Trips Teach Me to Trust Jesus

My husband, Daryl, experiences more wanderlust than I do. He grew up in Southern California, traveling across the valley for high school basketball games, taking class field trips up the coastline, and loading up the church van for missions to Tijuana. On our family Sabbath, it’s Daryl who takes us out on the roads of Orange County. When I ask where we’re headed, he smiles and nearly always says, “I’m not sure. Let’s just have an adventure.”

In particular, our trips to visit extended family bring out the differences in our travel methods. I plan ahead while Daryl enjoys serendipity; I prepare for every eventuality while he prefers to throw a few diapers and a bag of tortilla chips in the car and hope for the best. But since my husband’s side of the family lives in Los Angeles—a thriving metropolis with all manner of convenience stores and restaurants—I’m learning to hang loose on these local treks.

As these drives to LA become more common, God is faithfully teaching me that my rigid, planned-up-to-the-minute travel method isn’t always the best one. In fact, the biblical model for following Jesus is much more Spirit-led than plotted in advance. It isn’t that preparation isn’t necessary or helpful, it’s that openness to the Spirit of God is more important still. “The wind blows where it wills,” Jesus tells Nicodemus in John’s gospel.

Paul’s journeys were continually interrupted by storms, bandits, imprisonments, and mobs, and once, when he made it all the way to the outskirts of the province of Asia, the Spirit of God turned him away at the last minute. Perhaps that’s why when God speaks to individuals in Scripture, his first call is often for them to step out in faith, to follow a new and previously unsought path. Much of the time God doesn’t even give the destination. The command is simple (and, if you’re a homebody like me, perhaps a little unsettling): “Go,” he says. “Go.”

God uses this word with Abraham, Moses, and Elijah. “Go,” he says to Jonah. Simeon is “moved by the Spirit” to go to the temple, where he welcomes and blesses the infant Jesus. “Get up,” an angel says to Joseph in a dream, warning him to flee from King Herod’s murderous rage and go to Egypt.

As pilgrim people, we, too, are called to travel with our eyes open to the work of the Lord in the world around us. As N. T. Wright puts it, “A pilgrim is someone who goes on a journey in the hope of encountering God or meeting him in a new way.” Whether we fly across the country or simply drive an hour to visit a friend, travel provides us with a unique opportunity to experience God anew by approaching our journey not just as travelers but pilgrims—people on the lookout for God at work and opportunities to join him.

Jesus was the ultimate pilgrim, after all, leaving his heavenly climes to not only visit with but live among humanity. He faced all the usual obstacles to comfort that plague us when we travel—difficulty in finding food and shelter, misreading the vibe of a particular place, and having to rely on the hospitality and grace of strangers, family, and friends. “Foxes have dens,” Jesus said, “and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Jesus leans into this discomfort, telling his disciples to “take nothing for the journey.” He invites us to do likewise. (Though, to be fair, none of the disciples was toting a two-year-old. Surely then even Jesus would have advised bringing an extra snack or two.) Away from our usual environment, at the mercy of the road or the airlines or the weather or the host home, we are given the opportunity to see the world with new eyes: to receive welcome, to develop compassion, to grow in faith and trust that God will care for us throughout the journey and see us safely home at its end.

In my upcoming summer travels, I want to practice Christlike pilgrimage, watching for God as our family journeys, looking for opportunities to love those in my path with the love of Christ, and doing my best to accept discomfort and even disaster as means of discipleship and grace.

I also need to seek ways to slow down and listen—something that doesn’t come naturally to me. One of the lessons God offers to us in travel is to find peace amid the storm, to leave behind the intensity of our work lives and schedules and family pandemonium and settle into the quieter days of travel. As Carlo Carretto puts it, “That is the truth we must learn through faith: to wait on God. And this attitude of mind is not easy. This ‘waiting,’ this ‘not making plans,’ this ‘searching the heavens,’ this ‘being silent’ is one of the most important things we have to learn.”

This insight comes home to me every time I visit my parents in the northern woods of Wisconsin, where I’m cut off from the busyness of my normal life. My parents’ internet is spotty; my cellphone works only intermittently; the last time I heard a siren of any kind was at the town Fourth of July parade half a decade ago.

Back home, Daryl and I often fall asleep watching The West Wing or The Office in an effort to still our ping-ponging thoughts. Here, however, any digital streaming takes literal hours to download, so we simply don’t. At night we open the windows to hear the oak and maple leaves blow in the wind, falling asleep with books on our chests. When we spend these days in the quiet of the northern forests, it’s as if Jesus stands at the helm of our proverbial boats during the storm of the usual daily grind—ministry, school, appointments, errands, household chores—and says, “Peace. Be still.”

In these pilgrimage moments, I’m ever so slowly learning to listen. I’m learning, too, that the journey, provision, and destination all belong to God.

Courtney Ellis is a pastor and speaker and the author, most recently, of Almost Holy Mama: Life-Giving Spiritual Practices for Weary Parents (June 2019, Rose Publishing). She lives in Southern California with her husband, Daryl, and their three kids. Find her on TwitterFacebook, or her blog.

This essay was adapted from Almost Holy Mama by Courtney Ellis. Copyright (c) 2019 by Courtney Ellis. Published by Rose Publishing, Peabody, MA. hendricksonrose.com

 

Original here

Hills and Valleys

Psalm 22:1- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

It seems to me that our Christian culture has made it a sin to despair, to question God, to be just downright sad. However, the Bible is filled with mighty men of God who struggled with God, who questioned God, sought their own way, or just had down days. I don’t feel like Christianity should promote despair, but I also don’t think that it should try to make it seem like everything is awesome, every day of the week. This is an unrealistic goal which can cause us to be frustrated when we cannot achieve it, or to ignore these thoughts and push them away without dealing with them directly.

Now before we continue, I am not talking in this post about clinical depression that needs treatment from a licensed clinical psychiatrist, which I am not. Depression is a real struggle for many and I will not claim to have all the answers to it.

Let’s look in the Bible where men of God questioned God and their circumstances:

• John the Baptist was in prison and questioned if Jesus was the Messiah even after proclaiming it at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 11:2-3)

• Habakkuk 1:2- O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?

• Moses was frustrated with God and the Israelites many times. In Numbers 11:11 he said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people?

• Many of David’s psalms were filled with sadness and discouragement including Psalm 22

• In Psalms 73, Asaph questioned God about the prosperity of the wicked

• After the defeat of the prophets of Baal, Elijah suffered from despair, even wishing to die. In 1 Kings 19:4 he said “I have had enough Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

• Jonah rebelled against God, but after the successful saving of Nineveh, Jonah became bitter telling God “Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:3

Now it’s easy as Christians to quote the Bible where it says “the joy of the Lord is our strength” and “rejoice in the Lord always”. I’m not saying that these are not good goals, but as fallible humans we need to understand that we will have good and bad days, we will have strong faith mixed with weak faith, we will question God and we will be without any doubt. There are high and low points in our “climb up the mountain” as Christians. Just read Pilgrim’s Progress…

Martin Luther, the great reformer, struggled with doubt. It’s one of the key drivers of him questioning the church at the time to lead the reformation. At one point his doubt led to such great a depression that he wrote, “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.”

What is our end goal when we despair? If we question God or have sadness what do we do? We do not live in that state, we use it to propel us forward and out of it. We seek help, read the Bible, pray to God, and ultimately stand firm in our faith in who God is. It is important to not go through this alone, we need to find fellow believers we can be accountable with and who we can call up when we are struggling.

Feel free to read my previous post on “Wrestling with God.” God is a big God and He can handle our doubts, worries, anxieties, fears, and sadness. If we give them over to God, He can handle them where we, in our own strength, cannot. Once we rest in God’s sovereignty, we can realize that we do not have all the answers, and that is ok.

Back to Psalm 73, it is my favorite Psalm. The first half is the authors frustration’s with the wicked, but by the end it brings him to a place of confidence in God and His ultimate plan. How he may not understand everything fully, but his ultimate trust is in God.

23  Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24  You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25  Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26  My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27  Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28  But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

May the same be said of us, that we can use our dark times to help illuminate God and His power, that we can rest in the fact that He has everything under control. Our doubts and fears are not sinful in and of themselves, we should not feel unworthy for having them. But after we push through, get everything out in the open, and fall back on God’s sovereignty, we can get back to pursuing God. We can then truly claim that “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Discerning Reflection: What do I do when I am sad, when I question God? Do I pray and turn to Him or do I turn away from Him? Do I feel shame for having those thoughts? How can I quickly turn around from these thoughts and who do I need to be accountable with to help me?

Prayer: Lord help me seek after you in the good and the bad times, help me understand that I will have high and low points and to not despair but to trust that you have everything under control.

Hills and Valleys

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: