Have you ever come to a place of utter desperation? Maybe financial problems plaguing you. Maybe a separation or divorce. Maybe dealing with a wayward child, or dealing with a potentially terminal illness. Days, weeks and months go by as you do all you can, in your own strength, to handle the issue that never seems to come to resolve. You come to the end of yourself – the desperation has overtaken you.
There’s a story of a widow who lived in the town of Zarapheth with her young son. They were dirt poor and starving – to death. She was hopeless and contemplating suicide. Holding on to her son tightly, she called out to God as a last resort; her pleas returned to her like a boomerang.
Whether believing in God, or not, everyone eventually prays for help.
Someone came alongside the widow and prayed for her, standing in the gap for her and her needs. Her prayers were answered. No doubt she was grateful for her blessing; it saved her son’s life as well as her own.
Sometimes, when we believe all hope is lost, that can be the moment God steps in and answers our prayers – rarely the way in which we expected. Once there is a resolution, even if its not exactly what we were hoping for, our peace returns to us, or, for the person who doesn’t believe in answered prayers – a type of homeostasis returns.
The widow and her son lived on for some time, enjoying everyday life. Some time later, her son became seriously ill. Her faith was again lost. Forgotten was the answered prayer of the past. All focus remained on her very dark and present situation.
So often people quickly forget that hope is real and mustn’t be forsaken. Hope is something we need to breathe in – it’s a living thing inside us that needs nurturing. Hope is the anchor, the anchor of faith that we all need in our lives.
The widow gave up hope as her son came sank closer to death. She lashed out in anger. She lost her hope. But God, once again made a believer out of her.
How many times have our cries resulted in our tears being wiped away, only to find that at the next crossroad, we keep taking the same left turn over and over again. What is the answer to remain at peace always and filled with hopeful expectation? “This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]—a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells].” Hebrews 6:19 Amplified.
Stand firm. Believe. Hope. Give thanks.
You moved in closer, only enough to hear the sound of my voice and my cries. Listening and watching a small girl . . . you stalked me – raping my innocence after his wickedness had violated me. He shut me up. You moved in closer, serving me a deadly cocktail of shame, guilt and fear. I didn’t know any better and I drank.
He couldn’t leave me alone – his sin was your entry point – your pleasure. You observed intently, missing nothing. You listened to my pain, pain that left grooves in my mind. I stopped feeling. I hid everything from everyone. I was dead on the inside, buried alive in my own life. You treasured my pain because it birthed a diabolic plan that you would stick around, a very long time, to execute. You thought you had me – an eternal conquest.,
But you were wrong. I grew up like we all do. I made a choice that didn’t include you. You see, I’ve been rescued and redeemed from the pit you sentenced me to live in. He has other plans for me – plans that don’t include harm, plans that will prosper me. He’s everything I’ve ever needed or wanted. He is my fortress. He is faithful and strong. He is my refuge in a storm, and shade from the heat. He is my Rock and my Provider. He is my Comforter, my Hope, and my Advocate. He is my Redeemer, my Saviour and my Lord. He helps me and guides me. He is compassionate and very jealous, very powerful, ever present and all consuming. He is with me and in me and for me. So, there’s no room for you anymore.
I am serving you with an eviction notice; that’s right – no apologies. You’ll need to pack quickly. I will no longer be troubled or harassed by you. You’re no longer welcome here. You have no power or authority over me. You can’t steal anything from me anymore. You’re done. Finished. From now on, I’ll see you coming from afar. We’ll be ready for you. I have the power and authority to trample serpents and scorpions and you, sir, are a snake if I ever saw one. You can move into the pit; it’s already been decorated for you.
“But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster.” 1 Kings 5:4
Fear sees the enemy as bigger and more powerful than God. The greater we fear, the greater our problems become. Fear attacks us from the inside and works its way from our minds and emotions into the very fibre of our being. Fear kills us slowly. Fear believes God is distant and aloof. Fear is us handing the enemy power over us by faith that he will move on our behalf. Faith sees God and sovereign and loving. Faith brings comfort in the situation and not only at the end of the situation.
Fear and faith also have a lot in common. Both require a complete trust or confidence in the unknown and unforeseeable future. The biggest difference between them is that faith requires trust in God and fear is basically trust in the enemy. Fear says, I can’t believe that God can, or will, do what He says He can. Fear says, I’m more afraid of what the enemy might have planned for me; he must be more powerful. Fear is a tactic of the enemy and believe me when I say, he knows our weaknesses better than we know ourselves. If the enemy is anything, it’s patient. He likes to whisper lies in our ears and the only reason we have a proclivity to believe them is because he often slips just enough truth in those lies to make them somewhat plausible to someone who has been caught in his snare. Sometimes he just repeats things he may have heard others say to us. There is nothing original about him. Jesus called him “the father of lies.”
God wants us to trust in Him. He wants us to surrender all to Him. He wants us to – when confronted by fear – turn it away by clinging to Him in faith; He wants us to choose Him rather than fear. Fear and faith are attained by choice – a decision has to be made as to which one we will put our hope in and which one we will banish. It is impossible to have two opposing thoughts simultaneously … wouldn’t it be so much easier to choose faith? Wouldn’t it be more comforting to choose faith?
Faith in God does not guarantee a sweet and easy life, but it does guarantee that there will always be a Comforter with you, someone in your corner, someone who loves you without condition, no matter what you have said, or done. Faith is what allows you to cry but helps dry the tears when you bring to mind all the times that you have banked on faith and been rewarded by it.
When faced with a decision to fear or have faith there is something I often forget … but never for long. I choose to recall that my faith has always come through – maybe not always as I had things envisioned or planned – but things have always, always worked out for the best – faith builds faith. If we never had opportunities to test our faith, it wouldn’t be faith, would it? When I choose to believe in fear, there is no joy in the situation – ever. I am robbed of all peace. My entire spirit is downcast. I look forward to nothing but the end. I am never blessed by it and I find myself inconsolable and isolated. When I think of all the time that I have spent awake, worrying, speculating … is always for not because I have never, ever, ever had a situation turn out worse that I had ever imagined it – and I have quite an imagination.
How many times a day do we put faith in the unknown? Every night when I lay my head down, I have faith that I will wake up the next day. I have faith when I get in my car that I’ll make it to my destination. People save money because we have faith that we’ll make it to retirement. We get an education because we have faith we’ll become employed. We have faith in the intangible, against odds that are not always calculable, but so many of us can’t believe that a loving God would care enough about us to see us through whatever life hands us. No, we make a deliberate choice to give glory to the enemy when we give in to his promptings.
There is only one kind of faith and that is fearless faith. “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” Exodus 14:13-14.