Things were going wonderfully. I had a good job, a comfortable amount in the bank account, a beautiful wife who was seven and a half months pregnant, a library full of delicious books to devour, and a wish/needs list the length of my thumbnail. Did I trust God? Absolutely! I mean, I could lose my job, break a leg, buy a hundred books and still have enough to live on for months. In this position, I was what you call a man of great faith. I had unshakable confidence in God to provide. Right.
But with an ill-timed left turn, a totaled vehicle, a traffic ticket, an insurance mess, and a new van (that didn’t know that the antifreeze isn’t supposed to go in the piston cylinder) later, suddenly this “Man of great faith” felt like a “lost boy of great nerves.” I felt like my protection had been ripped away and I was standing in the harsh winds of an uncertain future. I was finding out firsthand the Houdini act that riches can pull. Anxious and afraid were now the top two on my list of emotional ingredients.
During this time I was asked to teach in our church on the great commission (Matt. 28). I decided to focus on the “all that I have commanded” portion of the text. What were all these things God had commanded? In searching through Matthew, one command stood out and was repeated most often: “Do not worry…Do not be afraid.” Wow. How did I miss it?! When the God of the universe stepped into our world, the message that He spoke most clearly and frequently was that we must trust Him. All through Scripture, God is making it clear we have to trust Him. Men who trust Him are praised and held up as examples; those who doubt are sternly rebuked. The Bible is serious about this issue. Nowhere is worry or anxiety tolerated or condoned. Faith and belief are repeatedly stressed as critical to our walk with God and trust is the key element in both of these. In His Word, God’s message could not be clearer: “Trust Me and live like it!”
Why do we not get this? In our self-examination how often does fear and worry grab our attention as sins that need to be repented of? Instead, fear and anxiety are our pet sins, expected and accepted without a second thought. Why is this? It seems to me that because this issue of trust is so important to God and dear to His heart, our enemy works overtime to keep us blinded to it. Satan’s first lie was an assault on this truth – that God was not trustworthy.
But does God, like us, wink at fear and worry? When Jesus’ disciples where in the midst of a violent storm out at sea, they were scared. It was understandable, right? Growing up in a fishing community, they knew the danger of the Sea of Galilee; they had probably all lost family members to it at one time or another. The sea was their symbol for terror. But when He saw them, Jesus didn’t say “I understand. Your feelings are to be expected.” No, He sternly rebuked them. God does not justify or overlook anxiety and fear. These are insults to His character and often symptoms of deeper problems.
When God calls us to trust, He is not saying, “Don’t worry – nothing bad will happen. Everything will go just like you want it to.” No, He is demanding that in the midst of our disappointments we trust Him to know what is best and that He is sovereign enough to execute His will. If you have a genie concept of God (i.e. if you rub Him with the right prayer, you’ll get what you want), then you won’t find release from your anxieties. But when you realize that God is the supreme potentate who bends His knee to no one, and that He loves you enough that He will use difficult things to accomplish good in your life, then you will find a release from earthly fears and gain the courage you need to face life’s trials.
I haven’t learned my lessons well. I have worried about many things these last few months, and have found myself scratching my head and asking God why. Each time God repeats that command that He gives to each of us, “Trust Me!” One night on the way home from work, I was especially feeling the weight of financial pressures and sensing that everything was going wrong. I felt like God was at odds with me. Then a song on the radio caught my attention. It was about the little footprints of a father’s son and how they changed his perspective on life. The melody calmed my frayed emotions and I began to think about my own child that was still nestled in the safety of Heidi’s womb. As I thought about this little life, every other earthly possession faded into the background. I got a taste of father love. This child truly meant more to me than any thing in the world. While I was realizing this, God reminded me, “This father love that you feel for a little baby is only a tiny taste of my love for you. You know how you would do anything to help this little one. Just think how much more I, the sovereign Lord, of the universe am willing and able to help you!” The thought was a warm blanket against a harsh wind. I broke down and cried.
God is worthy to be trusted. He loves us enough to have the strong desire to do what is best for us. He is wise enough to know what is truly best for us and those around us. And He is powerful enough to accomplish that which He sets out to do. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He will always be there giving you strength and carefully monitoring every trial that comes your way. You will not be given more than you are able to bear. Don’t let worry and fear be the overlooked vices that come between you and God. In whatever you are going through, listen to and obey the stern and gentle words of your all-powerful Creator.
“DO NOT WORRY! DO NOT BE AFRAID! BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS! TRUST ME! I KNOW BETTER THAN YOU, AND I WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS! I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD!”