Just over a month ago, I sat across from a friend as we shared lunch together. She asked me, “What do you most hope for?”
“Do you really want to know?” I asked. I wasn’t sure how my words would be received.
“Yes, I do,” my friend answered.
“Okay, then,” I replied, “What I most hope for is that those who say that they follow Jesus Christ would really follow and trust Him. What I really hope for is that believers would lean into, depend upon, and live out the faith they say they have and in so doing, show others the hope of Christ in this part of the nation – especially in Oregon.”
Today, this is still my hope. Especially now.
Especially when we are grocery shopping and instead of stampeding like a mad rhino to pierce the last set of toilet paper rolls, we decide to walk. We move forward in trust. We understand that whether we secure toilet paper or not on this shopping trip, we’ll be okay. Toilet paper won’t make or break us.
Especially when we are home alone and watching yet another coronavirus-19 update, and instead of cursing, blaming, and condemning the government officials, we put aside our judgment and lament and pray for these leaders. These government leaders won’t shake our conviction to trust our God – despite what these official say or don’t say.
Especially when we are taking our daily, neighborhood walk, and instead of looking away from those who walk towards us, we smile and say a word of greeting or blessing. Our neighbors need us to be a people of cheer and good hope.
Especially when someone confesses that they are discouraged and disheartened on social media. Instead of scrolling through the feed, we stop and share a word of blessing on their thread. We write an email or send a card. Or we give them a call and say, “We’re with you in this crazy thing. Take heart, good friend. We love you.”
Especially when we hear more bad news, instead of descending into a pit of dark, murky despair and hear one more awful bit of news, we stop and pray for those most affected by the news we have just heard. We ask how we can help others to keep pressing on through the unfamiliar darkness towards the sweet light and love of Jesus.
Wouldn’t it be an amazing thing if we decided to respond to our fears with the courage and strength that our faith in Christ offers and provides us?
We all desire to live during this time without fear, don’t we?
Where can we find the courage and strength we need to keep our eyes and hearts fixed upon our God?
For me, I am finding inspiration in God’s word.
Today I read this:
Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.
New International Version, Psalm 112: 6-9
Did you catch the ‘bad news’ that the psalmist acknowledged?
Did you see that the psalmist’s encouragement was not to self-protect and hunker down in isolation because of the report of an approaching calamity, but rather to seek opportunities to meet the needs of others – especially the poor?
Despite the evil tidings of distress and misery, the psalmist established that his confidence, hope, and security were found in his God. He understood that the bad news that comes in this world had already been foreseen by his Lord.
The uncertain time was certain in God’s eyes.
In faith, the psalmist trusted that whatever happens in this life, the Lord is present in it. The Lord will overcome it and triumph over it.
Is this a hard truth for us?
Do we believe that our fear of the Lord leads to fearless living on this earth?
Fear of the Lord and our trust in Him go hand in hand.
When we trust our God to completely take care of us, we discover that our earth-bound fears lessen in intensity and ultimately subside – even our fear of illness and death. The terrors of this time and place have no power over us because Jesus Christ has triumphed over every fear through His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.
We can rest in God’s care and God’s love and trust Him to guide us through the grocery store – without fear and without selfishness.
We can believe that the Lord is in control – even in a pandemic situation.
We can support others with love, with grace, and with practical help.
We can listen to the very real fears that our friends and family have regarding their present-day needs and the unknown aspects of their future.
We can live our lives with the assurance that we are loved by our God and that He is with us – in everything.
Does this mean that the bad news we are reading and hearing about won’t befall us?
It means that whatever happens today or tomorrow or in ten days’ time or a month from now or next year or even in ten years’ time, our God is with us. He loves us. He will help us. And He will see us through it all – in triumph!!!
That’s how I want to live on this earth – for such a time as this!
I want us – those that follow Jesus Christ – and those that are being called even now to follow Christ, too – to live like we believe every promise Jesus made to us!!!
He has triumphed over our fears!
We have no fear of bad news as faith in Jesus is our Good News – always and forever!!!
Will we live like we believe that?
Friends, let me pray for us:
There is so much to be afraid of at this juncture. Nation upon nation, people upon people, family upon family, and individual upon individual have had their lives upended by the coronavirus-19 situation. No one is untouched or unaffected. Yet, how we respond to this crisis will show this hurting world whether our faith in you is real and to be trusted. If we don’t trust you to help us, why should anyone who knows us and has heard that we follow Christ, trust us, let alone, trust you? Father God, you have promised to help us. You have promised to shield and protect us. You have promised to shine your face upon us and give us peace. Yet, if we don’t acknowledge you, if we don’t fear you, if we don’t believe you are for us and not against us, it’s no surprise that your promises may not ring true in our lives.
Because we don’t receive your promises – we ignore them. We deny them. We may take hold of a promise for a moment, but when we don’t wait for you to work, we cast your promise and help aside.
Father God, please forgive us.
Please forgive our apathy, our selfishness, our self-protective tendencies and our me-first way of living.
Father, I don’t know who has taken time to read this blog post or read to the end of this prayer, but I pray for them now. Please Lord, make them brave. Make them bold. Build in them a confidence and a conviction to take hold of your promises and live them out today, tomorrow, and forever.
The time is now for people to believe and trust you. Please help us show them the way to you! I know you are calling people to believe you and trust you. May we help guide them toward you because they see how much we love you, how much we need you, and how much we trust you.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I pray.
In closing, here is a music video to be encouraged by and to reflect on by We the Kingdom and Tasha Cobbs if you like: