How many times God calls to us and we look past Him to find our own way out of our sorrows, our troubles, and fears*. Yet it is often through these means that He calls and invites us to join Him and may even press into our heart so we will feel pain so we would look to Him. Perhaps without even realizing it, we avoid Him or will search for Him on our own terms, looking for answers that will make our life better. Is it not when Jesus said these words that we would find the secret to living an overcoming life: Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matt 16:24? So in the context of going through challenges in life, pain, and sorrow should we try to not allow the outcomes be our focus in beseeching our God, but instead to cry out for Him that we may know Him through it? I believe this to be an effective way for answered prayer – in that we do not necessarily take our need to the throne of grace, because we often do not really know and understand what that may be, but instead we go to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and grace – to seek Him IN our need. Heb 4:16. Though we are to pray always, in all prayer and supplication making our requests known to God – I think that to seek Jesus, as our only need is something many neglect to do nor understand, yet is very powerful for it is the act of humility, faith and trust. And in this posture, we begin to see that our life as a follower of Christ is to be like one who is on a sinking ship and throws all he can overboard to save his life. For in the same, we give God room in our lives; as we decrease – of SELF so He can increase in us. The freedom we so desperately long for can be obtained by the principle of giving it up. The giving up is not mere words that we say but it is a literal doing. We can only gain freedom when we give up the very thing we suffer, fear or dread – to let it go and take hold of the person of Jesus Christ. It is important to take notice of what it is we cling to, because in all likelihood it is the very thing we must cast off. Do we fear death? Accept death. Do we fear poverty? Accept poverty. Do we fear loneliness? Accept loneliness. Do we fear disease? Accept disease. Do we seek to be justified? Accept being misunderstood. Accepting in the sense that you will not let these things become a power, but that you will lay them aside, and look to God for what He says regarding them, keeping Him as the center and NOT the issue, concern or problem. We are in the position of yielding to God, not the crisis – and will hear Him say ‘turn to the left, turn here at the right, stop! Go, apologize, forgive, repent or stand firm. And with each direction He gives, we walk toward our freedom Isaiah 30:21. God sees the whole picture, He sees where we need to go, what we need to do and how we are to do it – and His instructions are what we should always strive to lay hold of and follow. For the things that have us anxious can be idols. Idols are those that you put before God and they will often manifest in what you fear, in what makes you anxious, sad or angry. We must silence the voices of all other influences and the way to do this is to no longer play with them but instead ignore them, cast them aside and turn to God. Be cognitive of what it is that brings you comfort, rest and happiness – for they too can be idols.
*Just to be understood, I am not talking in this post about a healthy fear, like one has to run from danger, or sorrow that is a natural response to life’s grievance such as death of a spouse, child or loved one.
To join God in our crisis is to walk in an awareness to what is our motivation in what we do, think and desire for. Do they come from the desire to sooth our flesh? Fear, hurt, lust, anger – stem from a flesh need, the need to be accepted, need to be right, the need for soothing and comfort – which Christ calls us to deny. We must ignore what they demand, and commit to hear and obey what Christ says through the word. And in our suffering, sorrow, challenges, joys and blessings we seek God and continually offer praise and thanksgiving. See post: Praise Revelation. With the understanding that He is greater then all that we face and deserves our attention in and through such circumstances, so that we give to Him all glory and honor – and NOT the problems. As we live in this way, we make room for the Almighty God to take His place in our life – and this is where we will truly live, find peace and joy. For further reading see posts: Anxiety – Our Modern Day Plague, The Perfect Prayer & What is Idolatry?
Phil 4:4-9; Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Psalm 42:5; Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance