Sunday, March 18, 2007

Why times are rough for Christians...

A number of things were running through my mind while I worshipped this morning. I kept going back and forth between the sweet times of worship to thoughts and feelings about life now and in the near future. And I think that God gave me a special revelation of His grace and mercy that answers some of my recent questions.

I was thinking about how almost every Christian that I know is going through a rough time right now, in one way or another. For a lot of us it’s financial, but with some of us, it’s other things. For my husband and I, it’s money and a loss of direction…on top of other things. But I keep being reminded that money isn’t really important. Neither is where you’re at in life, or perfect relationships with everyone you know. That’s not what brings people happiness, comfort, peace, or hope. At least not the lasting kind. We all know that…and if we dared to doubt it, all we have to do is look at rich Hollywood…at the princes and sheiks of the world…at the CEOs who bargain the wealth that they have to gain more, perhaps hoping that they’ll find what they’re seeking then. God is the only One that can give those things to us. We all know that.

The thing is…many times we forget that they’re there waiting for us in God’s arms and presence. We forget how to draw from what He’s given us…if we ever knew how, to begin with. Me…I draw from it through worship. When I pour out my heart in worship to God, He in turn fills me with His peace and joy. No matter how bleak the future looks, He fills me with hope that is everlasting, because it’s not based on earthly circumstances…it’s found and fulfilled in what He has done for me…inside me. And that can only get better and better, no matter what happens on this earth.

These are the things that I remember and find again when times are rough. I’ve known this for a while, but it was running through my mind again this morning.

Then I thought of the prophecies and naysayers who are predicting horrible things that will/might happen this year, or soon. I honestly have no idea if these prophecies of nuclear attack are from God and will happen or not. Those who say that the US is on its way to economic collapse are undoubtedly right, but I have no way of knowing if it will happen soon, or if we’ll find a way to avoid it. People have been saying for years that the End Times are coming soon if they’re not already here…and I don’t know about that either. I don’t know whether Jesus is coming pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib, let alone whether it will be this decade, my lifetime, or 200 years from now.

But I do know the thoughts that fill me when I think of these things. Part of me is tempted to want to run and hide…to avoid thoughts of it and cross my fingers that I won’t have to go through a nuclear attack, or a bird flu or AIDS pandemic, or economic collapse. But I know that I’m only asking for trouble if I do that…trouble in my spirit. The truth is that there’s an extremely good chance that we’ll have to live through something terrible. Almost every generation has had to live through world war or something equally difficult, and the world is too small now to think that any of us can separate ourselves from whatever ends up happening.

Then I fall to thinking about how to prepare for these things to make them easier to live through…maybe move away from the big cities that are more likely to get nuked…maybe get a good garden going and have plenty of bullets ready so we can go hunting for meat if that’s the only way to get it…maybe we have to get completely out of debt so we can’t loose our house…maybe if I eat as healthy as possible and strengthen my immune system as much as possible, I won’t be as susceptible to diseases…and so forth. But even that short list shows how impossible it really is to prepare for a future that I know nothing about.

And so I end up with God. He knows exactly everything that will happen in my lifetime…both to me and around me and every detail that will affect my life and the lives of my family. And that reminder brings me to one conclusion…

There is only ONE way to prepare for a future that is getting more uncertain every year…and that is to learn to follow the leading of the One who knows the future and who loves me more than anything. He hasn’t promised to protect me from nuclear attack or bird flu…but He’s making a place to take me to if He has chosen to allow those to take my life. He hasn’t promised to let me keep my house and car and the material things He’s given me that mean so much to me…but He’s given me spiritual things that mean even more, and He’s promised that I can never loose those.

Am I ready to loose everything I have and still rest in His peace and joy? Have I learned to truly abide in Him in the way that will be necessary if these things happen in my lifetime? Not completely, but I’m learning more right now as I go through the difficulties that I am currently facing.

And that’s when it hit me. Maybe this is why He’s allowing so many Christians to go through so many trials right now. In His infinite grace and mercy, He is gently allowing difficulties in our lives now, to give us a chance to learn to get what we need from Him alone. He is giving us a chance to learn to find joy and peace in the midst of difficulties. Maybe He’s not working on our finances too much because in a few years the whole nation will be so messed up that it won’t make a bit of difference either way whether we’re out of debt in 2007 or not. Maybe our difficulties aren't the enemy coming against us, OR God closing doors. Maybe it's much deeper than that!

Whenever the world does its end time ‘falling apart,’ there’s only going to be one delineation between people that really matters. There’s going to be those who not only are saved, but who have also learned to hold onto God…to really walk with Him in such a deep and personal way that they still have His peace and joy and hope and comfort…and there’s going to be those that haven’t. Where we’re at financially in March of 2007 won’t make a bit of difference.

And rather than plunge us all blindly into the rough waters of whatever disaster we’re destined to live through—and hope we happened to have already learned to swim—God is leading us into the troubled waters now…giving us a chance to learn to swim through them with Him…before the riptides form.

Maybe this is what the Bible verses about being prepared are really all about. It’s a simple matter to claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior and be prepared for Him to snatch me away. But being prepared to hold onto my faith no matter what might happen—well, that’s a completely different story…

4 comments:

  • annie says:
    Sunday, March 18, 2007

    Hmmm .... well, lots of thoughts. The general idea I agree with. The Bible says, "For thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land." (Haggai 2:6) Hebrews expounds to say, "This expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." (12:27) Also Romans says that creation suffers the pains of childbirth ... Jesus told His disciples that wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, etc. were the beginning of birth pangs. So ... things going 'wrong' are in fact a part of the master plan. Not because God wants things to go wrong, but simply because what God does want and has planned is so big and is on such an enormous scale that this causes spiritual, environmental, social, and all other kinds of pressures. When you think about it, birth is a wonderful thing. But it also puts a LOT of stress and pain on the body. I believe that is what we are in. I agree with you on your conclusions as to what we are to do ... trust in the leading of the One who knows our paths. This line bothered me, though: "He hasn’t promised to protect me from nuclear attack or bird flu…but He’s making a place to take me to if He has chosen to allow those to take my life." Hmm. While we don't know the future, and we also know that there is much to the mind of God that we have not fathomed, this thought seems to contradict what He has already told us: "A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, But it shall not approach you." Actually, Katie, go back and read the whole chapter. I understand that in the natural mind of man, there are things which are so big and so heinous that we can't imagine escaping or being exempt from them. Yet what does this passage mean, then?! Look at how many things He said He would deliver us from when we 'abide in the shadow of the Almighty.' :The snare of the traper; deadly pestilence; terror by night; arrow by day; pestilence; destruction; evil; plague; and to top it all off: stubbing your toe. What is part of the promisethat he ends with? "With a LONG LIFE will I satisfy him." The Word of God is true, right, health for the body, lovely ... And He never lies. He never stretches the truth. He never exaggerates. He is what He says and He says what He means.

    Love you, Katie. Like I said, I agree with your conclusion that we have to trust the leading of God and not get carried away. I just also wanted to remind you of some very strong things the Bible has to say about this as well. :>

  • Katie says:
    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    I agree... I have Psalms 91 memorized. Yet I also know that He has allowed many Christians to be attacked and be killed. He allowed Christians to be killed in 9/11, didn't He? And in the World Wars. Many Christians have died from many diseases... what about Mom?

    Doesn't the Bible say that 1/3 of the people in the world will die in one of the end time things? Do you honestly think that none of that 1/3 is going to be Christians? God made all those promises... yet He refused to take Paul's thorn in the flesh, whatever it might have been. He said that 10,000 fall at our side but it won't approach us... yet almost every single one of His disciples... people who would know how to stand on those promises if anyone ever did... were killed. Yes, they were killed for their faith. How different is that from Muslim terrorists killing us with nukes because their religion is against ours (and every other)?

    His promises - as He meant them - never fail. But His promises - when WE falsely interpret them - DO fail...they fail to stand up to our erroneous expectations, that is. These false interpretations of promises are some of the things that are being shaken! (referring back to your favorite verse) They are the devil's twisted versions of God's promises!

    It's kind of like if we promise our kids that we'll get them dinner, so they start counting on pizza, never thinking that we might have another dinner in mind. The Jews rejected the Messiah because He didn't give them earthly deliverance. What if those promises you're claiming to keep you safe from nuclear attack were ALSO meant in a spiritual sense? What if whatever failed to keep my online friend's Christian brother-in-law safe in Iraq, also fails to keep you safe?

    Christians fall while standing on what they thought were God's promises all the time... and when they fall physically, they also often fall spiritually, which is much worse. This is why I believe it's extremely important to make sure that you have been told by God that your understanding of the promise is 100% what He meant before you go standing on it. Your faith is at stake.

    I don't know the answer or the reasons... I agree wholeheartedly that God can't lie... but there's obviously SOMETHING that we're missing here, and we'd be blind not to recognize it. It is US that is missing something, obviously... not God. Christians are getting killed and hurt and sick with things far worse than bird flu (and stubbing their toes) worldwide every day. So until I know beyond all shadow of a doubt that I understand what that thing we're missing is... why I might be excluded from these things when other Christians aren't... then I'm going to trust in God's will above MY understanding of His promises.

  • Ian says:
    Saturday, March 31, 2007

    Hi Katie,

    I enjoyed what you had to say so thanks for sharing.

    Today I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time and helping a 79 year of man for a couple of hours. He is recovering from the effects of surgery and undergoing chemotherapy for an aggressive brain tumour. I spent a couple of hours with this gentleman while his wife and her friend played some poker machines at the local casino. This was the first time she had been able to relax and take a break from caring for her husband.

    For some folks, the worst of times is right now. And this applies to everyone - people of faith and people who cannot find it in their hearts to believe.

    Personal revelation time: I've stopped listening to what others are saying is God's agenda. Stopped listening to the prophets and apostles, preachers, speakers and teachers, elders and leaders and am starting to try and just love people instead.

  • David McIver says:
    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    First of all, yay that I can finally post comments!!! The lessons God's been teaching me recently are a bit nebulous as it's been just a bunch of "getting to know you" experiences. He has mainly been proving through experiences the verse that says He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. This is an absolute truth but it is exclusive. "Those who love Him and are called according to His purpose" are those who can benefit from this working of all things together for good. I'll just share some examples. The other day I was sitting on the back deck of a 110ft Coast Guard cutter which was under way in the North Arabian Gulf. I had a waterproof box that I needed to put my cameras in, and the box had a styrofoam insert. I was cutting the styrofoam so that the cameras would sit snugly and not bang around in the box. During the considerable cutting, a lot of styrofoam dust was created. It was collecting all around me as I worked. When I finished, I put all the big chunks that had been cut out into a plastic trash bag. The dust was all over the place though. I coud have just blown on it for a minute and it would have gotten swept into the sea, but that's not very envionmentally conscious, so I began the tedious task to picking up the tiny little pieces of which there were thousands. Just after I began, the wind suddenly shifted and all the little pieces began collecting against a metal frame that was mounted to the deck. This created a little pile that I could easily pick up. After a few seconds I had 90% of the dust cleaned up! I woudn't have been able to do that at all if the wind hadn't changed. As soon as I began trying to get the last little stubborn pieces that were still scattered all over the place, the wind shifted again and they all dissapeared out to sea. It was as if God was saying, I appreaciate your willingness to look after this planet that I put you on, don't worry about the rest I'll handle it. I felt so loved and looked after. Thats just one example of many that I've had where God just pointed out that he wants to be friends and he wants to be with me. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that a friend of God will want for in this life. I personally am not at all worried about trials and tribulations, and I would submit that those who are, are seriously lacking faith in God which is really to say lacking knowledge of God. As you mentioned, being led by God is the main thing. There were trials, tribulations and turmoil in every sense back in Jesus's earthly ministry, but he wasn't at all concerned with those things. Seek first his kingdom (kingship I think is a better translation) and His righteousness and all these things (food, drink, clothes) will be added to you as well. He never promises that we will be rich by this world's standard, but we will never want for anything that we need. If we seem to be lacking for something material, I think that it's either because we don't really need it, or because He need's to take it sso that we can be blessed in another way even more. Karsey's birth and the story you told me about your housing situation at that time is a perfect example of that. Another example is, the other day while clicking on one of those 'periodic updates', my computer restarted and refused to boot up. I got the blue screen of death. I was really worried because I have a lot of pictures and video from my time out here that I could never replace on this laptop. I've been having a lot of problems recently with competing programs that cause my laptop to operate weirdly. I was able to run a PC Restore program that not only fixed the blue screen of death, but also straightened out all the other problems at the same time! I was so worried and had gotten to the point of saying "God if you don't want me to have these pictures then I trust you that I'm not missing anything." He worked it all out. God loves me!!! I know what that means! It rocks! Anyway this is huge so i'll let you go. I love you,
    -David

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