I sit here this morning with a heavy heart, but with the same resolve; I will continue to trust God. I am aware we all have issues in our lives that can make us look across the fence and think the grass is greener on the other side.
I remember as a teenager sitting in church watching our Pastor walk across the lawn from his house to the church and the thought entered my mind, “I will be a preacher when I grow up. The devil never bothers him, our Pastor, and he only works one day a week."
I want you to know that was a very naive thought. I know there are some who don’t believe in God or the devil, but I believe in the Bible, God’s Word. His Word tells me to beware of Satan, and his impressions. One example, Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
John Wesley’s explanation of these words:
“Through philosophy and empty deceit - that is, through the empty deceit of philosophy blended with Christianity. This the apostle condemns, because it was empty and deceitful, promising happiness, but giving none. Because it was grounded, not on solid reason, but the traditions of men, Zeno, Epicurus, and the rest. And, because it was so shallow and superficial, not advancing beyond the knowledge of sensible things; no, not beyond the first rudiments of them.”
My heaviness is many things, some because of the challenges of my personal family, my extended family, my friends, my neighbors, the people of this world, but I do and will trust in God because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:6
A part of the message, “How to Trust God in Difficult Times”. More to come…….
In the early 80’s, I was pastoring in Tucson, Arizona. We had four churches in Arizona, and we decided to have a youth camp. We were blessed to be able to have it at Southwest Indian School owned by World Gospel Mission located in Peoria, which was a suburb of the Phoenix valley. We would drive up on Sunday afternoon, get settled in, and stay until the following Friday. My church had a bus and I would usually drive it to the camp to take as many teens as we could get on it.
One year I had to officiate a funeral on Monday morning of youth camp, so that meant I would drive the kids to camp and then drive back to Tucson in the morning. My plan was to leave early Monday morning, drive the two hours to Tucson, stop at the house to change clothes for the service and then drive back to Phoenix.
On Sunday evening I decided to check flights to see if there was a better option from Phoenix to Tucson and return the same day without having to drive at least two hours both ways. The flight was a good price so that was the new plan A. I made the arrangements and left early Monday morning so I wouldn’t get caught in traffic on Route 17. Anyone who knows me is aware if I am on time I’m late, and I knew traffic would be bad on Route 17. I was right, but it was worse than I anticipated. I arrived at the airport, parked my car, bought my ticket, and literally was running through the airport, carrying my Bible! I could run in those days!
The security was not like it is now, and I had no interruptions in getting to the gate, but having been caught on Route 17 in “a parking lot” had already taken its toll! I got to the gate just in time to watch my plane backing out of its parking place to fly to Tucson without me and to hear the gate attendant answer my question, “Can you stop them?” with the word, “No!”. I had for the first time in my life missed my flight!
The point today is there are things we miss in life, and they can be painful and disappointing, but the part of life we don’t want to miss is God’s best. The one place we don’t want to miss is God’s heaven. The one phrase we don’t want to miss is “Welcome Home."
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
We can trust God in difficult times. I encourage you to read Revelation Chapters 21 and 22. God’s Word is awesome!
In His service,
I have sometimes found myself while listening to someone speak, wondering what the speaker’s experience has been concerning the topic they are discussing. The direction I feel God is leading me with these blogs is basically from personal experience. I will be relating some events I have had to face in my own life, or from a challenge I have had to help someone else get through.
Today it comes from some emotional feelings I had recently as a result of life the last fifty-three years.
I had a ministry zoom meeting, and as we began to bring everything to a close, our leader wanted to know if there were any requests for our closing prayer. I had a heavy heart, and I did something I have never done before in this way. I responded with, “Yes, I have a couple of requests."
I have some very close family that have severe physical challenges that make life very tough at times. I tried to take care of Jackie, my first wife, and her terminal illness for thirty-three years of the forty-seven years we were married, all while we were also in ministry. The last few weeks Pam, my second wife and helpmate and I have had people who were very close to us with sickness, pain, and dying all around us, and my comment was, "I am tired of it."
I have said many times that God knows what we think. I just need to talk to Him about it, and so I said to my small group, “I AM TIRED OF IT!”
It is OK for me to express myself. My Grandfather and David “of the Old Testament” taught me a lot about communicating with the Father. Just talk to Him.
I don’t have to like everything in life; I just need to trust Him. Trust Him I do, with my life.
In His service,
I don’t know if it is just me, but I feel like there are more people putting comments, thoughts, and Scripture on Facebook to encourage others than what I remember seeing before the virus came our way. Don’t misunderstand, I know there are still plenty of unwise comments to ignore, but I love the fact we are seeing some who are not just interested in themselves. They are also trying to make a difference in other people’s lives.
I guess the question, why would I start writing a blog now when many are doing such a beautiful job in sharing when I also have plenty to do?
The most important reason for me to write a blog on “How to Trust God in Difficult Times,” is, I believe the Holy Spirit told me to write it. There are a lot of people hurting and seeking. I have also started to write another book on the same subject for the same reason.
I accepted Christ into my life on April 28, 1967 and I have not had one day since that I regretted making that choice. I had my life planned and God was not a part of it, but after the 28th, God gave me His plan so when He asked me to write a blog, He knew I would. When He asked me to write another book on the same subject, I am. When He led me to preach a message on how to trust God in difficult times, again, I have. Does that make me a super saint? Not at all. It means I want whatever He wants. It means He has taught me to trust Him. Sometimes I have to ask Him to help me because I am not strong enough to do it without Him.
I want to end this blog today with one story how God taught me to trust Him. I was about to leave the house going to the job site but before I left I was praying. Life had been difficult, money was really tight. My wife was into her sixth year of a disease that would never leave us until she went home to be with the Lord twenty-seven years later. We had two kids still at home, one about to graduate and the other just going into high school. We had a warm place to live, food on the table, and family close but just barely making it. We had a good church, but I was really tired.
I was praying, or I should say complaining, telling God how bad things were, as if He didn’t know. When all of a sudden, out of my mouth came these words, “Lord, teach me to trust You!”
I realized what I just said, looked around to see where it come from and then I realized that was what I wanted! I wanted to learn to trust God because I knew instantly how He was going to teach me. I was so excited! At that moment of the revelation of God’s plan to teach me such an important lesson with the knowledge of how He was going to do it, just made my day. I was sure there would be one of two ways it was going to happen. One possibility, my business would grow to a point I would need a four-wheel drive truck, because we would be building so many buildings that I would need to drive from job to job just to keep all the construction going, or the other possibility would be the Publishers Clearing House would pull up in front of my house with a huge check.
I hate being wrong. I worked hard for eight months, patiently waited for one of these ideas to come to fruition, but neither option happened. One morning after eight months, I am once again at my place of prayer complaining, crying to God about how bad it was when He said something to me that changed my life. He said, “You asked me to teach you to trust me didn’t you?"
I said, “Yes, Lord, but what does that have to do with what I am talking to you about now?"
Then He said the words that changed my life, and I have never been the same: “You have had to, haven’t you?"
I suddenly knew what it meant to trust God. I only control one attitude, one person. I can’t create stars like He does, put them in place and tell them to stay there. I can’t create a huge ball of fire to warm and give light to my creation which is another thing. I can’t create a human being as He did, so intricate and so delicate and yet so amazing. I didn’t die on a cross for the sins of man and rise from a grave to defeat the last foe of death, but Jesus did. I didn’t, and can’t do anything He has done but I know He did. He can do anything, and we can trust Him because He has always dealt bountifully with me. He is the living God! Nothing catches Him by surprise. You can trust Him. He knows tomorrow better than we can remember yesterday.
In His service,
I want to say Hi and thank you to each who take time to read this. I hope it encourages you.
I do a lot of reflecting these days. It may be because I am considered a part of the “age group” most susceptible to catch the virus if exposed to it. It may be because I am thinking all the time about different things, or it may just be because there is so much to consider these days.
One example I have seen a lot that I love to use to illustrate is this: I was 10 years old before we got a television. It was a black and white picture, and there was no remote in those days! Now I carry a TV on my belt, and I know how to use most of the technology.
I lived on a farm and my parents thought it was a good idea to have a huge garden, which I was expected to help with. I must admit, they knew how to raise a garden. There were many who looked forward to dad’s cantaloupe. We called them muskmelons, but I don’t know why. His watermelons were so delicious and sweet. The only way to eat them was to wear part of the juice as it dripped from your chin to your t-shirt when we buried our head into a big slice so red and sweet that we didn’t care. Others would say they were better than what the “professional” growers offered.
We had sweet corn so big we had to use a chain saw to cut the ear off the corn stock, and green beans so big, we only needed to cut off one to cook for supper. Ok, maybe that is a slight exaggeration. Hope it brought a smile, but the point is, we had to grow a garden if you wanted to eat.
We hunted in season, and we ate what we got. We also raised our own beef and sheep. Mom could sew, and she taught my sister how to sew. I wore hand-me-downs a lot. I had a cousin two years older who was like a brother, so I got his clothes when he outgrew them.
We didn’t have a lot of money; in fact, there were times when we had very little, but I was taught to save my money. I received an allowance if I was faithful to do my chores, and I also started working for other farmers when I was old enough to drive a tractor. Translated that means, tall enough to reach the pedals.
I watched as my parents continued to trust God when it seemed the clouds in the sky had no water to send to us for our crops in the field. I knew it would be a challenging day when the creek dried up, and we had to share and ration the water with our animals so our well wouldn’t dry up too.
With all that, and more, we still thanked God at every meal for our food. We still had family prayer before we went to bed. We still drove 13 miles after the farm chores were finished, one way to town every time the church doors were open. Never one time do I remember my parents blaming God or anyone else because everything wasn’t going smoothly. We didn’t always have everything we wanted, but we had what we needed. We never went hungry because God blessed our hard work to raise our food. We may not have always had new clothes, but mom kept the ones we had clean and looking good.
I am sending this with the hope and prayer that it will encourage you today to trust God. I feel God helped me to see before my first wife died that He was bringing me through pain so I could assure others who are willing to trust Him. He will bring us through challenging times if we will let Him.
God loves you and He wants you to know it. If you believe in prayer, please pray God will help me say the right words to encourage others.
In His service,
Tom has been a licensed minister over 50 years and faced many life experiences. The driving force of his obedience to serve in ministry has been his love for and trust in God.