How to Not only Survive, But Thrive During the Upcoming Storm...
Or "Keeping Your Emotional Boat Floating Along Till The End"
Nancy Arant Williams
If you’re like me, you’re having trouble even taking in all the bad news in the world right now. I listen to the news and read the newspaper, wondering just how much negative input a person can tolerate and still stay upbeat.
Well, here’s the good news. For Christians, there is a way. It’s called faith and it’s free for the asking.
I’ve been wondering how the prophets in Old Testament times handled times of political and economic unrest, some cataclysmic, and
First, and most important, they had to realize God is sovereign. Clearly, you and I have no hope if God is not sovereign. But because He is sovereign, we can rest, no matter what we see with our eyes.
Believers, in a very real sense, have a place of rest not available to the rest of the world. We have a hiding place in Jesus Christ, where we can find rest even though there may be fire or warfare all around us.
As far back as Genesis, believers had bad news. Consider Adam and Eve after their sin in the garden. (Genesis 3)
Over dinner one night, Adam says to Eve:
At that point, Adam and Eve packed up their meager belongings and left the garden, where God stationed an angel with a flaming sword, to keep all mankind from eating of the Tree of Life. And why did He do that? Because, ultimately--He had mankind’s best interests at heart. Way back in the book of Genesis, God had compassion on us as humans, even in our sin. And nothing has changed since then.
After they sinned, God made another way. Plan B as it were. First He sacrificed animals and used the skins to cover their nakedness, once again making them comfortable in His presence, restoring their fellowship with Him. He also made a way for them to take care of themselves, by tilling the earth. He always had their best interests in mind, just as He always has us in mind, even to this day. If you recall, He calls us the ‘apple of His eye’. So when things look hopeless all around us, we can rest in His amazing provision.
The names of God, according to the scripture, make crystal clear, His intentions toward His children. Each name is a character quality that ministers to us in our needs.
He calls Himself: Jehovah Raffia--our healer. Jehovah Elohiym--Our majestic God.
Jehovah Shalom--our peace. Jehovah Nissi—our protector, banner and rallying point. Jehovah Rayah—our shepherd.
Jehovah Jaireh—our provider. Jehovah El Shaddai—the All sufficient one, who supplies our deepest needs. (Also called ‘the breasted one’, who nurtures us.)
Jehovah Shama—The Lord, Who is here. Jehovah Adonai—The Lord-God. Jehovah Tsitkinu—our righteousness. Jehovah Eliown—supreme, Most High God.
He has, in Himself, met every single need known to man. Whatever we need, we have only to ask, and He will hear. In the process of the relationship, as we wait on Him, living according to the truth He has revealed, He will change our character as He works in and through us.
Now let’s think about Noah, whom God instructed to build a giant ark. Noah, a man who knew God intimately, realized that judgment was coming upon the world, and the ark would be his family’s only place of refuge. (Genesis 6) Let’s listen in on the conversation over Noah’s dinner table.
Noah’s wife, (setting the gravy boat in front of her husband and handing him the potatoes.): “Oh? What’s that?”
Noah: The world is going to be destroyed.”
Wife, looking aghast: “Say what?”
Noah: “What I said. God told me that at a certain time, He’s going to flood the earth and destroy every living thing.”
Wife: “Flood? What’s a flood?”
Noah: “That’s what I asked, and I think it has something to do with water. Rain to be exact.”
Wife, looking horrified: “So what are we supposed to do?”
Noah, nodding: “Build a boat.”
Wife: “A boat? What kind of boat?”
Noah: “A really big boat that can protect the lives of two of every kind of living thing besides our family. Then after the flood, we and the animals will replenish the earth.”
Wife: “How long will we have to stay on this boat?”
Noah: “Until God indicates that it’s dry enough for us to disembark.”
Wife, shaking her head: “Are you sure about this?”
Noah, nodding: “I’m sure. God was very clear on the subject. He told me the exact specifications of the boat, even what kind of building materials to use, the whole ball of wax.”
Wife: “So you’re going through with this, huh?”
Noah, shrugging: “I don’t see any way around it. At least not if we want to stay alive.”
Wife: “Well, listen, ask God for more details, will you? I’m having a little trouble with this whole scenario.”
Noah: “I’ll see what I can do.”
It’s easy to see that the whole situation had to be processed in the minds of God’s people. And it’s no different today. We have to talk about it, to God and each other, planning and visualizing God’s provision as He has promised it.
Now the rest of the story probably went something like this. Early on Noah probably had to do some tall selling to convince his three adult sons that it was first of all, going to rain for the very first time, and second, that the rain was going to flood and destroy the earth. If God didn’t speak directly to Shem, Ham and Japheth, you can be sure that Noah prayed for them to have open hearts on the subject. But knowing God had planned for his three sons and their wives to be on the ark, he also realized God would make a way.
scripture says that what God ordains, He completes. God has a plan for you and me during the last days, which means He has a way of escape already in mind. He intends that His children be standing upright on the feel of battle, not fallen down, not weak or wimpy, but sure of their God, secure in His love and ready to obey, knowing He has their best interests at heart. In fact, God called His son Immanuel, God with us, just to reassure us of His constant and abiding love.
Now I’d like us to listen in as the three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, discuss King Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. (Daniel 1-3)
They had already separated themselves by choosing not to eat the king’s delicacies, but when they saw a statue of the king hovering 240 feet in the air, they discussed their options.
Shadrach: “You guys know, don’t you, that this thing doesn’t bode well for Hebrews like us. I mean, do you think he built that statue for the fun of it?”
Meschach, frowning in amazement: “I think he’s setting himself up to be worshipped, appointing himself to a position higher than God.”
Abednego, shading his eyes from the sun as he looks up at the monument: “So what are we going to do about it? I mean, this thing will be done in a week or so at the rate it’s going up, and then what’s going to happen?”
Shadrach: “Maybe we could leave town for a while.”
Meschach: “Nah. I think we need a plan. I mean, we don’t want anything to take us by surprise, do we?”
Abednego, frowning in question: “You really think he’s going to ask us to bow down and worship that abomination?”
Meshach, shrugging: “Why else would he build it?”
Shadrach: “Beats me, but I’m not bowing to any pagan god, no matter whose face is attached to it.”
Meshach, studying his friend’s face: “So what? You going to just say no?”
Shadrach: “What choice do I have?”
Meshach: “I don’t know. None, I guess. But what’s he going to do to those who refuse to bow?”
Shadrach: “I hate to even think it, but I’ve heard a rumor saying he has a furnace ready, to throw dissidents into, just in case.”
Abednego, sighing: “Oh, man. That’s the stuff of nightmares.”
Meshach, shaking his head: “I repeat. What are we going to do?”
Shadrach: “Well, if it means I have to choose between God and Nebuchadnezzar, it’s no contest. I’ve been touting the power of faith all these years like I actually believe it, and now I have a chance to put my money where my mouth is. I’m making a choice right now, before the issue even surfaces, and here’s what it comes down to. God is able to make a way to rescue us, right?”
Abednego, shrugging: “Sure. That’s a given.”
Shad: “Okay, but what if God decides not to save us? What if he lets us burn?”
Mesh: “Well, then we die. We die and join the angels in heaven, worshipping our God.”
Shad: “So what do you guys think? With me on this?”
Mesh: “I’m in.”
Abed: “Me, too. And at least if we die, we go together. Right?”
Now their discussion may have varied slightly, but you can be sure they didn’t just ignore the fact that they would have to choose between worshipping God and the idol. They purposed in their hearts, long before the event happened, that they would choose righteousness and let God be their defender.
So can you and I do this today? Absolutely. And let me go even further. We had better purpose in our hearts before the time comes, so that we aren’t wavering in doubt when the heat is on. If we give ourselves no out clause, allowing for fear, God will honor our faith. He may not choose to save us physically, but He will work His plan through us beginning the moment we make a choice for Him.
And here’s the thing. People will be watching while all this is happening. The three Hebrews, under Daniel’s direction, had made a stand by not eating of the king’s food, so they already had an audience, watching to see how much these guys would risk for the sake of their testimony.
And people are watching us. We speak our faith daily in many ways, making people think. And they will turn their attention to us, at times of crisis, watching to see what we will risk for the sake of our testimony.
Note: During these end times, the enemy will be throwing all he has against us to deter and distract the beloved from keeping their eyes on the goal. If the devil can get our eyes off Jesus and onto the turbulence under our feet, in the form of worry over jobs, health, keeping a roof over our head and food on the table, he has already defeated us. If we, however, who are in the beloved, choose to stand, none of those things will be cause for our defeat. If we choose to stand and praise God for what we cannot yet see, He promises He will make a way. Let me repeat that. If we choose to stand and praise God for what He has not yet provided, He will make a way. Guaranteed, because He cannot deny the prayer of faith. It would be like denying Himself.
Let’s take a look at Joseph. We all know the story. Because of his big mouth, he got in over his head, literally--thrown into a pit dug by his own jealous brothers. Now Joseph could have simply kept his faith quiet when he dreamed that he would rule over mighty kingdoms. He could’ve simply believed God for his future, but no, he had to relate the dream to an already hostile audience. (Remember, though, lest we judge him harshly for it, God even used Joseph’s boasting in His plan.) As if it wasn’t bad enough that Joseph already had the heart of his father wrapped around his little finger, now his brothers felt he was boasting. (Genesis 37)
You can just imagine how Joseph’s little monologue went after they left him for dead.
Night has fallen and Joseph pulls his coat more tightly around him, wondering how being in a pit could possibly be part of God’s plan.
J: “Um, Lord. I have a question. Aren’t we getting sidetracked just a bit on the way to our big goal? I mean, look around--does this look like a logical step on the fast track toward leadership. I mean, as far as you’re concerned?”
J: “Okay, so maybe I don’t quite have the whole picture here, but maybe you could just remind me again how to get through this.”
J: “Okay, well now, let me just try to get my mind around this. You promised You would use me some time in the future, so that means I’m not going to die. At least not yet. That means You’re going to keep me alive, protect me and that no matter what else happens on the way, well—I can trust You. Right?”
J: “And if that’s true, I can rest, even in this yucky pit, because You’re here with me, right? And if You’re here with me, I can stop worrying about what happens next, because You already have it figured out, right?”
J: “And if You already have it figured out, I don’t have to worry, because I already know that You love me and will take care of me. Okay, well, I’m really glad we had this little discussion. I feel a lot better now that
I’ve got a handle on it.”
I have a feeling Joseph had lots of those little ‘discussions’ on the way to the top. He probably had one when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. That one might have gone something like this:
J, hiding and sweating, after running from Potiphar’s wife: “Um, God, this woman—she’s after me. I mean, she’s beautiful, and she’s got eyes for me. Oh, man. This wasn’t part of the plan, was it? You know, God, I’m worried. I saw a threat in her eyes. I think she might be the vindictive type. Now, you won’t let her get me in any trouble, will you, Lord? Especially since I did the right thing?”
Just think how disappointed Joseph must have been when he was thrown into jail after she src
I can just hear the ‘discussion’ from his jail cell.
J: “Listen, God, are You up there? I’ve got to tell You, I’m beginning to wonder. I have no clue how this whole scenario fits into Your plan—You remember--the one in my dream. In fact, I’m really struggling right now, because from my point of view, I’ve gone from a really cool leadership position in Potiphar’s household to sitting in a miserable jail cell. Maybe you can tell me, what purpose does this serve anyway?”
J: “Okay, now, I need to get a grip here. Take a slow deep breath, Joey boy. Things can’t be as bad as they seem. Now just think this through.” (Pause—thinking).
“Okay, now. No matter how awful things look to me, You are still on the throne, right, God?”
J: “Right. You are. I mean I know from Your Word that You’re sovereign. You are on top of all that concerns Your beloved. That’s me, right?”
J: “Right. That’s me. Okay, then if that is so, then I can trust You even from this crummy jail cell, right, God?”
J: “I’ll take that as a yes. So if I can trust You, even in this dungeon, to work things out for my good, then I can rest and just praise You, right?”
J: “You know, I really have to hand it to you, God. You really have a way with words. Listen, if You don’t mind, I’m tired. I think I’ll take a nap now.”
You and I know the src
Let’s examine another hero of the faith. Daniel. (Daniel 6)
At that time, several men in high positions were jealous of Daniel and wanted to get him in trouble, so they convinced King Darius to establish an injunction against anyone praying to another God. King Darius, of course, feeling flattered, signed the injunction, not realizing it would come back to haunt him. Because Daniel was able to interpret dreams that no one else could, Darius had already named Daniel as the third highest ruler in the land. Darius, in fact, was very fond of Daniel
. In those days, no one, including the king himself, was unaffected by an injunction signed and sealed by the king. That included Daniel.
So here’s how Daniel’s verbal thought processes might have gone.
D: “Um, Lord, I love You. You know that, right?”
D: “Well, listen, Lord, I’ve got this situation. A sticky wicket, as it were.”
D, pacing back and forth in front of that famed second floor window: “See—here’s the deal. The king has just signed a proclamation that for a period of thirty days, no one can pray or bow down to any god but Darius, or he’ll be thrown into a lion’s den.”
D: “Well, I was just wondering. What would You think if I decided to just pray silently in my closet instead of in front of this window? I mean, You’d understand, wouldn’t You?”
D: “Hmmm…why don’t I feel good about that choice, Lord? I mean, this way nobody gets hurt, right? I pray to You silently, and yet choose not to rock the king’s boat. No harm, no foul, right?”
D: “Let’s talk about this, can we?”
D, frowning: “Okay. I don’t get it. What’s wrong with that scenario? Hmm…Well, let’s see. If I were looking at it from Your point of view, God, I might—well—I guess I’d see a chicken, plain and simple, wouldn’t I?”
D: “Okay. So if praying silently in my closet isn’t an option, what other choices do I have?”
D: “Hmm…Well, let’s think worst case scenario here, okay? Worst case scenario would be that they would watch me pray and come and haul off my kiester and feed me to the lions. Ooh. That sounds painful.” (Making a face.)
D: “Hmm…well, I guess if I look at this from a prophet’s point of view, it takes on a whole different slant.”
D: “Yeah, it does. If I’m the prophet I’ve always said I was, I wouldn’t be looking around for escape routes here, would I? I mean, You’ve been there for me when I needed You to interpret dreams. You’ve been there when my three friends were tossed unceremoniously into that furnace, so You can certainly be there for me if I go ahead and let them toss me to the lions. Right? I mean, You are hearing this, aren’t You, Lord?”
D: “Of course You are. You’ve promised never to leave me or forsake me. Okay, then, if that’s true, You will be with me in that lion’s den, right? And I mean, it’s not a problem for you to make sure those lions prefer veggies that day, right?”
And we all know the end of the story. The Lord sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouths. The king suffered a terrible bout of insomnia, worrying about Daniel’s fate and rushed to the lions’ den early in the morning. And here is what scripture says happened next. (It’s too good to paraphrase.)
Dan. 6:20—And when he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
“Then Daniel spoke to the king, ‘O King, live forever. My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king. I have committed no crime.
“Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children, and their wives into the lions’ den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language who were living in all the land. ‘May your peace abound! I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom, men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God and enduring forever, and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, and His dominion will be forever. He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.’ So Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Out of the mouths of babes and unbelievers.
As we continue on our excursion through scripture, we can’t help but stumble over the wonderful story of Elijah the prophet, who stuck his neck out repeatedly, only to be honored by God for his mighty faith.
After a series of evil kings came and went, the Lord brought Elijah on the scene, no doubt as a thorn in the side of Ahab and his wicked queen, Jezebel. These two have a reputation for an ‘in your face’ attitude against God, almost daring Him to judge them. In fact, scripture says, Ahab thought it a trivial thing to walk in the sins of his father Jeroboam.
The Lord had obviously been talking to Elijah, preparing him to become a man of faith, pumping him up to confront sin as was the job desrc
E: “Listen, maybe I could just pray that You stop the rain and that Ahab just ‘gets it’, by discernment or something. You know, like maybe You could make it so obvious, he can’t miss it. That would work, wouldn’t it?”
E, playing “Let’s Make a Deal”: “Well, listen, God, maybe we could compromise. You give a little and I give a little. I’ll write a letter and send it by messenger. I’ll write down exactly what You’ve told me to say, and we’ll see what happens from there. How’s that for a deal You can’t refuse?”
E: making a face: “No go, huh? Well, okay, how about this? I’ll throw a rock into his window with the message rubber banded around it. That way, I will have braved his yard, but not his immediate wrath. So what do you think?”
E: “You know, You’re not making this easy. I know. I know. Not Your job.”
E: “You know, I get really nervous being around that guy. I mean, he’d just as soon kill me as look at me, Lord. How am I supposed to deal with that?”
E: “Well then, maybe I could ask you for one small favor. Give me guts. Can you at least do that?”
E: “Okay. You said ask, so I asked. You said the You can’t deny the prayer of faith, so I’m assuming You’re working on that ‘guts’ thing right now. In fact, I’m counting on it. That is, if you expect me to go through with this.”
E: “Okay. Okay, I’m going. Funny how I always lose these arguments.” And as we know, God provided the ‘guts’.
I Kings 17 says that Elijah finally said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years except by my word.”
When, at last, the brook dries up, the Lord tells him to go to a widow woman, whom He has commanded to provide for Elijah. So he goes to Zarephath, where he asks her for something to eat. She says honestly that she has only a little meal and oil to make a last meal for her and her son before they die of starvation. In this case, we see how God provides not only for the prophet Elijah, but also for the woman.
At that point in time, Elijah hears a nudge from the Lord, telling him to tell the woman to go, round up all the jars she can find, because He is going to fill them.
Now, can’t you just imagine the monologue?
Elijah, shaking his head: “Listen, Lord, I’m really sticking my neck out here. How dumb is it to tell her to go get all the jars she can find? I mean, what happens if I say that and then those hundred jars just sit there and nothing happens? I mean, I’ve never been one to tempt fate, and I’ve got to tell You, this is a tough one.”
E: “Oh, I know You honored me when I stuck my neck out and told Ahab it wouldn’t rain, but empty jars? Man, what I wouldn’t give for a windfall profit right now. In fact, maybe you could just have some rich man die and leave her a pile of money. What do you think?”
E, frowning. “You know, I can think of a thousand ways for You to provide for her, none of which includes anything as ludicrous as gathering a ton of empty jars.”
E, shaking his head: “Well, listen. I guess there’s not much use arguing about it if You have Your mind made up. Okay, okay. I’m going. But I’m choosing to believe this jar thing will pan out. Okay?”
Now as if filling the jars wasn’t enough, the woman’s son becomes ill and dies. Elijah has to be thinking, “Lord, here You filled her jars, but You let her son die. What kind of a deal is that?”
Don’t you wonder if Elijah discussed this with the Lord even after seeing the rain stop and the jars fill with oil? If he was anything like me, he was probably taken by surprise by the little guy’s death, and had to process this new situation as well.
So he may have said, “Lord, what’s she going to think of me? You saved her son from starvation only to let him die now?”
E: “So, raising the dead. How exactly does that work?”
E: “I mean, I’ve heard of it, but it’s not in my realm of expertise. So what do I say?”
E: “Okay, what if I just pray and say simply, ‘O Lord, my God, I pray Thee, let this child’s life return to him.’ What then? Will you do it?”
E: “Okay. What do I have to lose? Let’s just do it.”
And you know the end of the story. The prophet delivered the live child back into his mother’s arms, and she said, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
I have a feeling the Lord had Elijah go through all these things and more, simply to prove that He would always respond to the prophet’s prayers of faith.
More than a few men of faith had problems believing God’s promises. Abraham, for instance. God promised him, as an old man, with no children, whose wife was past her child-bearing years, that he would be the father of many nations. (Gen. 16)
Now I can just hear Abraham’s visit with God on the subject.
A: “Listen, Lord, I know You told me years ago that Your promised Messiah would come through my seed, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a little past time for this promise, especially since I’m as old as dirt and my wife is as good as dead. I mean, when exactly, did You plan to bring forth this promise anyway?”
A: “Well, listen, I know You’re capable of great and mighty things, but You know what? I’m losing hope here. I’m not holding my breath over this promise of Yours. In fact, maybe You should find someone else to be the father of many nations.”
Sarah, discouraged by her lack of children: “Listen, honey, are you sure you heard God right when He told you I would bear children? I’m not trying to be difficult or anything, but I just can’t imagine that He’d give me a child when I’m not only barren, but old. I mean what kind of a mother will I be when I’m in my dotage?”
A, shaking his head: “All I can tell you is what God told me. He promised I’d be the father of many nations, that I’d have children numbering as the sands of the sea. I mean, am I supposed to argue with God about something like that?”
Sarah: “I don’t know, but I’m tired of waiting. Maybe you should just take Hagar and have a child by her.”
As we all know, by circumventing the plan of God, trying to force His promise, Abraham and Sarah brought heartache and division on themselves and their seed even until now.
Over and over in the src
The question we need to ask is: Has God promised? And if the answer is yes, either in His Word or in our spirit, we need to choose to stand, resting in His sovereignty and care, waiting on Him and obeying His voice. And just like with Abraham and Sarah, we need to leave the timing to God.
Our responsibility is to get to know God’s character, soaking in the truth of His Word--that He is faithful and will never fail to perform His promises.
Here is the key to living abundantly: when we choose to trust Him, taking Him at His word, even when crises are imminent, I Cor. 2:9 says this: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared for those that
love Him.” Isn’t that awesome?
Here’s my challenge to you and me. If we say we believe, we need to learn (put into practice right now, before things get any tougher), to stop before we react and process each situation in light of what we know of God’s character and promises.
We need to forget what we see with our eyes,
because what we see with eyes of flesh only limits God and is not the whole truth. In fact, the enemy can use it against us, the way he did when Peter asked to walk on water and Jesus invited him to do just that. Remember what happened? Looking at the situation with the eyes of the flesh, it was impossible. The sad thing is Peter could have kept his eyes on the Lord and done exactly that—the impossible.
When we can stop fretting, wondering if God will take care of us, we will be able to say, “Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.” At that point, He will more than take care of our daily needs and let us get back to the business at hand, winning souls and following His lead.
When we learn to live like this, each day will be an exciting adventure, watching what He will do next. And while we’re resting, living in faith and obeying the Spirit’s promptings, we will be used in incredible, unimaginable ways that will bring glory to God while, at the same time, changing the world.
Copyright ©2012, Nancy Arant Williams. Used by permission
Copyright© 2012, Nancy Arant Williams | Webpage by: Cheryl |