DESPERATION

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3  (NIV)

 

How blessed we are in the United States to have access to fine education, outstanding healthcare, comfortable housing (including indoor plumbing and electricity), adequate to excellent infrastructure, and blessings many other people only dream about.  Of course, these things are not free, but our fathers taught us that hard work and a good attitude would take us a long way.

And so that’s the mindset most of us grow up with in our country.  Try hard enough, work hard enough, and you’ll succeed at getting what you want.  Until we don’t.  When our circumstances become difficult beyond our abilities to solve (or beyond our ability to buy solutions), we become desperate.  And I’m talking about Christians.  In many instances, we behave just like pagans when we’re pushed to the wall.

I watch while desperation pushes us to every imaginable answer available and even beyond.  We try this and then that.  We read this author and that one.  We pray this prayer and then that one.  I used to (pridefully) be confident of God’s answers to my prayers (emphasis on my will).  It took years before I sincerely embraced “thy will be done” (the prayer that is always answered).  I believed that doing all the right things—tithing,  sacrificial giving, good deeds, right living, going to church and Bible studies, even the extremes of fasting and self denial—was like making deposits in a heavenly account. These were all enriching my standing in heaven so that when I prayed, my will was done.

Desperation, our friend, eventually depletes that “account” and brings us right to the foot of the cross where we say, “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to the cross I cling.”  The stark reality of our total dependence on God’s grace and mercy becomes true for us.  As we sink into the stormy waves, we are ready to abandon all pretense and cry out to Jesus, “Lord save me,” and we discover that he is waiting for us.  Jesus lifts us up to himself, and nothing else matters.

It’s in him that we find his security, his healing, his peace, his comfort, everything we will ever want or need.  When at the very central heart of our lives we begin abiding in him, everything else comes into perspective.  Everything is measured by eternity, and God is enough.

Are we willing to be stripped of everything but Jesus?  Desperation can do that.

 

Father, thank you for gently and patiently moving us along in our journey so that the excess baggage no longer matters—we can discard its unnecessary weight.  Thank you that you allow us to become desperate as we weigh temporal things against your Kingdom.  Please keep up the process.  The results are heavenly.  AMEN.

IS GOD REALLY IN CONTROL?

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?  Esther 4:14

 

 

There are two overriding principles taught in the book of Esther:  God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.  Esther is the Jewish girl, blessed by extraordinary beauty, who is chosen by King Xerxes to be his queen.  One of the king’s nobles, Haman, becomes angry that Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, won’t bow down to him, so he gets Xerxes to agree to have all the Jews exterminated (genocide goes back a long way).

Esther learns of the plot from Mordecai who challenges her to fulfill her responsibility to her people.  Mordecai implies that God has placed Esther in a high position so that she might save her people.  And, lest Esther decides to shirk this calling, Mordecai tells her, “…if you remain silent…relief and deliverance…will arise from another place…”  Do you see that Mordecai is imploring Esther to do her duty by her people?  But he goes on to say that whatever she does, God will provide deliverance.  GOD IS SOVEREIGN AND WILL NOT BE DETERRED BY THE DISOBEDIENCE OR FAILURE OF MAN.  He will find a way to fulfill his will.

We often hear people say, how can God permit…  (wars, illness, suffering, death, poverty…)  We rarely hear a call to our responsibility as his children to be peacemakers, to alleviate suffering, essentially, to be God’s hands and feet to the people of our world.  Instead, we blame God for corporate greed, for personal indulgences, for jaded sensitivities, for hearts of stone.  Simply put, we put the onus for the world’s ills on God’s back rather than accepting God’s call to us to bring deliverance.

I know a family whose baby became critically ill.  The mother begged the father to take the baby to the doctor, but he said that he had prayed for the baby and refused to consult the doctor.  The baby worsened, and the mother became distraught.  Eventually, as the baby’s condition declined, the father relented, but it was too late.  While I strongly believe that God heals, I am convinced that he works in myriad ways and often it is through the medical community.  Was God powerless in this situation or did the father fail to take responsibility and see that the doctor was the healer?

This is a good time to reflect to see if we are waiting for God to do what he’s called us to do.  I once heard that God will do what we cannot, but he will not do what we can.  Although not a scripture verse, God’s Word seems to corroborate this truth.  God is faithful, and he is sovereign to work through us to do his will.  But if we fail to obey, he will find someone who is willing.

 

Father, thank you for choosing us to participate in your work in the world.  Thank you that you are in charge and can be trusted to fulfill your plan no matter what.  Strengthen us to be readily available to do your will.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.