Archives

Deep Waters

 

I have been having a very difficult time the last few months. Life is just so hard at times, and I find myself battling depression quite frequently. You would think that having survived my husband’s adultery would make other problems, like financial worries, seem so trivial and easy to handle, but that is not the case for me. Perhaps the reason why is that the affair was temporary, but the situations I live with every day are chronic, and there seems to be no end in sight. I have been feeling very discouraged and am battling depression from the endless onslaught of life. I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and there are times when I have honestly wondered how much more I can handle.

My husband has chronic, severe migraines that are debilitating. Lately, he has been having hemiplegic migraines more frequently. Hemiplegic migraines have many of the same symptoms as a stroke, so they are hard to deal with. Dealing with a chronic illness that so drastically affects one’s quality of life is quite challenging. It takes its toll on all involved.

In addition to my husband’s health, I help take care of my MIL, who also has multiple physical problems. My daughter has issues with anxiety, and she is simply not able to handle attending public school right now, so we teach her at home. With my husband’s illness, I am the one who primarily has the responsibility of teaching. Add to that the daily demands of housekeeping–dishes, laundry, and routing cleaning, and I feel like I am drowning. Handling these problems has been a huge adjustment for me, and, to be honest, I have not handled the adjustment well. I feel exhausted and worn out, which only compounds my feelings of depression and discouragement.

A couple of days ago, I was taking my daughter to an appointment about an hour north of where we live, and she was playing music from my iPhone. Her favorite song is Hillsong’s “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail).” I have never paid much attention to the lyrics because it is hard to understand the words at times. But this day was different. Before my daughter and I were even out of town, I was already feeling like the dam of emotions washing over me was able to break. I did not want to be a basket case for the appointment, so I started asking God to help me.

I am very honest with God about how I feel and how I see things, so my prayer began with something like, “God, I really need help right now. I don’t know how much more I can take. Please help me.” I asked Him to help me focus on Him, to remember His goodness, provision and faithfulness instead of me focusing on all the complications of life and how I feel. Then, my daughter played her favorite song, and I really listened to the lyrics, and God began to reveal things to me as I continued to pray.

For one, I walk by faith. I must choose to walk by faith daily, sometimes several times a day. I must choose to walk by faith, not to walk based on what I can see or on how I am feeling. I cannot let my emotions guide me. Secondly, faith requires me to give up control, and that is a hard one for me. It’s hard for me to accept that the dishes may not get done or the laundry may not get folded and put away because I simply have too many other issues to contend with.

I began speaking God’s word over my life and circumstances and I reminded God of things in His word as I prayed. I asked for wisdom and direction and guidance. I spoke words of life over myself, and I began to encourage myself in the Lord. It was a battle, I’m not going to lie. I did NOT feel like focusing on God, like focusing on His Word, or like reminding myself of who He is and what He has done. It was a deliberate act of my will to recall the times God has taken care of me and helped me, to remember His goodness and faithfulness. By the time the song by Hillsong had ended, I was feeling much better in my spirit. My soul was not in despair and chaos. Instead, I had a sense of peace, not because my situations may change, but because I knew that Jesus is in the storm with me.

I felt as if God was telling me it is time to go into deeper water, water that may be so deep I cannot possibly make it on my own; water that is so deep that my feet may fail. Yet, it is in the deeper water that I can learn to trust my Savior more; it is in the deeper water that I realize I don’t have to worry about drowning, because Jesus is holding out His hands to me, pulling me up. In deeper waters, the boundaries of my faith will be tested, but I need only to remember that the One who, with one word, can calm the storm is in the boat with me. His sovereign hand will guide me and keep me. But the wonder of faith is that it is only strengthened when it is tested and challenged. It can only grow as much as I allow it to grow. It won’t grow if I stay in shallow waters where it is safe, waters where I can see where I am and the things that are around me, waters I can easily get out of in my own strength. No, God has me in deeper waters, so my prayer has now become not for God to help me out of the water, but to help me WALK on the water. That’s a huge stretch for my faith, but I’d rather walk on the water and experience Jesus reaching out His hands to rescue me if I start to drown than to stay in the boat, afraid of the wind and waves that grow louder and louder, throwing my soul into chaos. That’s not how I choose to live my life. I choose to venture into the deeper waters where I know my faith can grow.

Facing my giants

A couple of weeks ago, my pastor preached on a passage from the book of Joshua, Chapter 14. The story revolves around Caleb, who, if you know your Bible, is one of the ten spies Moses sent to check out the Promised Land. Of the ten spies, only Joshua and Caleb came back with a good report, firmly believing that though there were giants in the land, God would fulfill His promise to give them the land. In Joshua 14: 6-12, Caleb approaches Joshua, who is now leading the Israelites, and reminds him of the promise Moses made to give Caleb the land of Hebron: “The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly” (vs. 9, NIV). At the time Caleb spied out the land of Canaan, he was 40 years old. Caleb had to wait another forty-five years to obtain the land Moses had promised to him.  I wonder if he ever wondered if he would see the promises fulfilled in his lifetime. Here is what Caleb says to Joshua in verses 11 and 12: “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then…You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there (the Promised Land), and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” And, in Chapter 15, Caleb drives out the giants in the land he was promised. He was 85 years old! I can’t imagine! Yet, he never doubted that God would help him face and conquer the giants. For the tribes that didn’t believe, they didn’t drive out the peoples in the land, and those people were a constant thorn in the side, as well as a continuing enticement to forsake the Lord.

I’ve experienced God’s faithfulness throughout my walk with Him. I have seen Him keep His promises, even when I have doubted. But, that did not mean God was not requiring something of me. You see, the people of Israel had been promised the land of Canaan, but they had to go in and drive out those who were living there. God didn’t just make those people disappear or go away quietly. The people of Israel had to fight and then take possession. If they failed to drive them out, they had to live with the people and the consequences.

I wonder how many blessings I have missed because I have not followed through on something God was asking me to do; or promises I squandered because I wasn’t willing to fight for them, even if I didn’t see the results immediately. I am challenged by the example of Caleb–unwavering faith that waited 45 years to see a promise granted.

I am also inspired by David, who battled the giant Goliath, a Philistine. Goliath met David, cursing God and mocking the Israelite people. When King Saul’s best soldiers saw Goliath, they trembled in fear. Not David, who, by the way, was only a young shepherd, NOT a soldier, at the time. When he saw Goliath, when he heard how Goliath was mocking and cursing God, David rose to the challenge and faced Goliath with only a sling and some stones. I love what David said in response to Goliath’s ridicule: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 15: 26, NIV). Then, in verse 45, 47: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied…All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s…” And with only one shot of one stone, David killed Goliath. God was totally involved in that battle. I mean, who can kill a giant with only one stone? God…only God.

Wow! What kind of dynamic faith! David wasn’t looking at the size or strength of Goliath; he wasn’t looking at the weapons of Goliath. No! He was focusing on God, the source of strength, and he knew that even the best, biggest, strongest warrior cannot stand in the face of God. David understood what I have come to understand, yet all too often forget–the battle belongs to God. I don’t have to fear the circumstances; the pain; the darkness. I don’t have to try to get by on my own power and strength; I don’t have to worry what that person does to me or says about me BECAUSE I AM A DAUGHTER OF THE MOST HIGH GOD, AND HE IS MY SHIELD, MY FORTRESS, MY STRENGTH. HE GOES BEFORE AND BEHIND ME. HE SURROUNDS ME. THE BATTLE BELONGS TO HIM. So what if that woman (or man) can’t stand you? So what if she mocks you? What does it matter how she sees you or what she thinks about you? You don’t battle against her in your strength or ability; you battle in God’s strength. She (or he) may win a few skirmishes here or there, but the battle is won! God guarantees the victory when we allow Him to fight for us. The same principle applies to the situations in which we often find ourselves because of the actions of others. The battle still belongs to God!

I know…It’s a lot easier said than done, and I fail miserably at times, as will you. But, keep your eyes focused on God, who gives you the victory against whatever giant you face. Maybe your giant is addiction, or sickness, or insecurity, or fear…The list is endless. That giant hasn’t defeated you IF you are willing to confront it in the name of the Lord and go to battle against it in God’s strength. My pastor ended the sermon I mentioned with this powerful admonition: If you don’t conquer your giants, your children will have to live with them.

I know some of my giants, and I am glad I do. That way, I can begin to conquer them. What are your giants? What are you battling? Who is fighting for you? Whatever your giants may be, the God of heaven’s armies fights for you!

God, my arms are getting tired!

There is a story from the Book of Exodus that I have thought about many times. It is a story that shows the importance of holding each other up and praying for each other.

In Exodus 17, the Israelites are to go to war with the Amalekites. The Amalekites had long been a thorn in the side of the Israelites, and they worshiped pagan gods and often led the Israelites into sin. If you know the Bible, you probably know that Moses was the man God chose to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Leading the Israelites was no easy task, either. They so quickly forgot all the miracles God did for them and how God delivered them from Egypt. They walked through the Red Sea when God parted it as they were being pursued by Pharaoh and his army. They saw the Red Sea collapse on the Egyptians, destroying them. They were guided by God in the wilderness. He gave them manna and water, and he met every need they had. Despite all these things, however, they grumbled and complained, even going as far as saying they had it better in Egypt—a place where they were enslaved for about 400 years. Although the Israelites were stubborn, Moses was a strong leader. He was humble, he sought God, and he interceded for the people time after time, many times pleading with God to not judge the people too harshly. If it hadn’t been for the intercessory prayers of Moses, the Lord quite possibly would have been much more harsh with the Israelites.

Now, remember that God had entered into a covenant relationship with Israel, and He told them He was giving them a good land, a land flowing with milk and honey. The Promised Land. But, the Israelites had to fight for this land. They had to go into battle to drive other peoples out of the land before they could possess it.

Exodus 17:8-13 describes the actions of Moses while Israel, led by Joshua, fought the Amalekites:

“Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’ Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”

Here, we see how Moses interceded for the people. As long as Moses held up his arms, the Israelites were winning the battle. When he let his arms down, the Israelites began losing the battle. His arms would get tired to the point that he had to let them down to rest. His arms became so tired that Aaron and Hur had to hold them up for him. Because of Aaron and Hur, who came alongside Moses and held him up when he grew weary, the Israelites defeated the Amalekites.

I have shared many times just how weary I became in my journey. There were times I did not feel like getting out of bed, and there were numerous times I could not even pray. I was just utterly exhausted and had nothing left to give. The battle wore me out. I know you can relate. I have also shared that had it not been for the prayers of some of my sisters in Christ, I would not have had the strength to keep fighting. They, like Aaron and Hur, came alongside me and held up my arms. They interceded for me. They saw how weary I was, how much I wanted and needed to rest, but they also saw the battle waging against me. They knew it was a battle worth fighting, and they knew the prize would be great if I could just keep going. So, when I could no longer walk, they picked me up and carried me. When I could no longer pray, they prayed for me. When I could no longer fight, they fought for me. They had my back and they covered me in prayers. I cannot say for certain that the only reason my husband repented and my marriage was restored was because of my prayers and the prayers of others, but I am certain that had I not prayed, and had others not prayed on my behalf, my marriage would have dissolved. I shudder to think about where I would be now, or where my husband would be now, if others had not stood beside me and held up my arms.

For a while, I did not want others to know about my husband’s adultery. I did not want to share my pain. I wanted it to remain private. However, I quickly realized that the battle was much too big for me to fight alone. I needed my sisters in Christ to fight with me and for me. I needed them to hold me up, encourage me, support me, strengthen me, and weep with me. I needed them, there was no way around it. Without them, I certainly would have lost the battle. As part of the family of Christ, my victories and defeats are not just my victories and defeats; when one person in the body hurts, everyone hurts. When one rejoices, everyone should rejoice. We should have the backs of each other; we should be prepared to go to war with and for our fellow Christians.

Our pride quite often keeps us from sharing our hurts and struggles with others. We tell ourselves no one will understand. Or we tell ourselves that no one really cares. Or perhaps we tell ourselves that others have their own problems to deal with so they don’t have time to hear about our problems. I thought I had to be strong, but no one could be strong for me if they didn’t know my battle. I thought I could handle it, but I was getting beaten up. I didn’t want to ask for help. But that pride had to go. My feeling of self-sufficiency had to go. My thoughts that I could handle it on my own had to go. I quickly came to realize that I could not fight for my marriage alone, and neither can you.

Throughout Scripture, especially in the New Testament, God’s people are called to bear one another’s burdens, to strengthen each other, to pray for each other, and to help each other. If people do not know what you are going through, what battles you are facing, what your hurts and fears are, they cannot help you. They don’t know how to help you. You have to be willing to ask for help, to ask for someone to lean on, and ask for someone to hold you up. And, once that person or those people come along, you have to choose to let them help you. It’s okay if those people do not understand exactly where you are, if they do not comprehend the magnitude of your pain. They can still pray for you. They can still go to war with and for you. Notice in the story above that Moses did not know exactly what the Israelites were experiencing in battle. He wasn’t on the battlefield, but he could see what was going on. He knew God’s people needed him; he knew the battle had to be won. So, he prayed, and when he grew tired of holding up his arms, two others did it for him, because they, too, knew how important the battle was. Maybe more importantly, they knew how much Moses and the Israelites needed them.

Just as God used Aaron and Hur to hold up Moses and to carry him, in a way, he can and will use others to hold you up and carry you when you cannot go on by yourself. So, like Moses, find two or three people you can trust, people who are rock solid, and lean on them. Allow them to help you. Allow them to carry you and to intercede for you. Let them know when you are feeling like giving up, when you are too weary to fight anymore, when you need to rest. Let them know when you need a shoulder to cry on, or when you need a listening ear. And, most importantly, at some point, let them know that you appreciate and covet their prayers and their help. Let them know that you could not have made it or done it without them, and, when the time comes when they need someone to carry them, be that person for them, as much as it is possible for you. Let God use you to hold up their arms so they can fight the battle they are facing.

Here are some verses you can meditate on:

“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14, NLT).

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way” (Isaiah 35:3, NIV).

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NIV).

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4, ESV).

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15, ESV).

“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26, ESV).

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV).

 

 

 

Be still

This post will not be like my usual posts. What I am sharing with you tonight is actually a word God recently gave me, and it keeps resounding in my spirit. I know you are in a world of pain. I know you have cried more tears than you ever thought possible, and I know how despondent and desperate you are. When I was going through what you are going through, God was my ever present help in trouble. But, like all of you, I am human, and there were numerous times I got my eyes off of Jesus. Many times when this happened, my soul was so unsettled within me. I could not rest. My mind would race with fretful thoughts that only worked me into more despair. I often felt like God had deserted me. Those are terrible and dark places to be, and I hurt for you.

Several months ago, something happened that got me very distressed and anxious. I just kept going over the incident in my mind, rehearsing it, and as I did, I only became more agitated. I was so uneasy and upset that I emailed a dear Christian lady friend of mine and shared how I was feeling and why. She responded to my email by asking me for more details, which I provided in another email. Once she knew what was going on, she reminded me that God is a God of peace and order. He is not the author of confusion, chaos or disorder, though it may sometimes seem like that. God is a rock. He is solid. He is stable. He does not change. He does not move. He does not waver. God is not scared, intimidated, threatened, or anxious. He is the peace in our chaos. He is the calm in our storms. He is the shelter and refuge when the rain is pouring down and the wind is howling.

As I thought about all my friend told me, I kept hearing this scripture echo in my spirit: “Be still and know I am God” (Psalm 46:10). I actually have that verse as my screen saver on my laptop. God reminded me of that as I thought about my friend’s advice. So, the question became, “Why did you point this verse out to me, God? Why is it resounding in my spirit?”

“Because you don’t rest before me; you are not still before me. You busy yourself with the responsibilities and cares of this world, when what you should do is be more like Mary and less like Martha. Taste and see that I am good. Let my word restore and refresh your spirit. Let my life revive you. You have no burden, no need, no desire that I cannot meet. But, you have to be still before me. I AM!”

The New American Standard Bible words it this way: “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

Being still denotes being relaxed, at ease, at peace, without anxiety, fear, or concern. It means quieting my noisy heart and listening for the voice of God. It means resting in God, knowing that I am in the palms of His hands, nothing can touch me without His knowledge or permission. It means trusting Him even when things seem to be out of control, even when darkness encompasses me. It means leaving matters with God. So, why then, does my soul not rest? Why then is my soul not still before God? Why then is my mind anxious? Perhaps it is because I do not realize all of who God is. I do not realize all of His nature, all of His power. I do not understand the depth of His love and compassion for me. I do not fathom the fullness of His mercy, kindness and goodness. I sometimes fail to see His hand of protection on my life, and I sometimes fail to recognize His blessings on my life. In short, I forget Who God Is. I forget His faithfulness to me.

Instead of casting my eyes up to the heavens, I look at the circumstances surrounding me. I see the problems, the complicated situations, the difficult people. I see the obstacles; I see the harm others are trying to inflict. How easily I forget that God is my strength, my shield, my fortress, my tower, and my hiding place. He hides me in His love; with his love, He covers me. He is a mighty mountain that cannot be shaken; He is a rock that cannot be moved. He is my defender; he is a mighty warrior. At His voice, the earth trembles. When He opens His mouth to speak, only truth comes out. He is an all-consuming fire that burns within my soul. What He orders happens. All of nature is at His command. He is not a God who is double minded or fickle. He has a purpose and plan, and the gates of hell shall not overcome Him. The grave could not hold him. He is the final and ultimate authority.

I can choose to be anxious, to have my soul disquieted within me, or I can choose to rest and be still before God. The apostle Paul reminds us:
Philippians 4:6-8
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

Peace is possible. It is possible if I lift my burdens and my requests up to God. It is possible if I will remember who God is. God’s peace will guard my heart. Guard my heart from what? Guard it from despair, worry, discouragement, anxiety. It will guard my mind. Guard my mind from what? From restless, agitating thoughts. From thoughts that exalt themselves against God. From thoughts that lead me into captivity. From thoughts that rob me of joy. From thoughts that detract me from God’s unique purpose and plan for my life. From thoughts that keep me from being all God desires me to be.

1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (NIV)

Psalm 37:5: “Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (NIV)

Psalm 55:22: “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”

Psalm 56:3-4: “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” (NASB)

Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan? And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans pursue all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.”

So, no matter where you are right now, no matter how chaotic or out of control your life seems, take some time to be still before God and reflect on who He is. Allow Him to comfort you and love on you. Let Him speak peace to your troubled mind. He is there, waiting for you, calling out to you, to come before Him and just be still.

The Fiery Testing of Faith

There is a belief among many Christians that God’s ways are easy and that Christians are somehow exempt from the pain and suffering that those who do not know Christ face. Nowhere in Scripture is this belief supported. In fact, James reminds Christians that we will face trials and tribulations. He tells us that our faith will be tested and tried (James 1:2-4, 12). The apostle Paul supports the words of James when he mentions that we are persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:9). Jesus said that we would face troubles in this world (John 16:33). Throughout the Bible, there are countless stories of men and women of faith who faced tremendous struggles; who experienced pain, despair, hurt, and disappointment; who asked God many of the questions we ask God today; and who came to their own crises of faith. With this evidence, the question, then, is not whether Christians will face trials, but how Christians are to respond to trials.

I had no control over the trials I was facing, but I could choose how I was going to live during the trials. If I learned nothing else from these terribly painful struggles, I do know this: Doing the right thing, obeying God, is not always easy. In fact, doing what is right in God’s eyes is often very difficult. This truth goes against everything our natural man is seeing, thinking, and feeling. It goes against our human reasoning and understanding. But our human limitations do not change the truths of God. Living out what God told me to do during this time in my life was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Standing on his promises and remaining obedient to him were hard. A lot of people did not understand; I don’t think I  fully understood. But, the part of me that is alive in Christ knew that despite the opposition and obstacles, I was doing the right thing. I was doing what God was asking me to do; I was obeying him to the best of my ability, but it was by no means easy. Easy times, though, do not produce much fruit in a believer’s life. Easy times don’t require us to lean on God and trust him. Easy times don’t help us grow and become more like Christ. Those things come about by the trying of our faith (James 1:2-4). They are forged in the fiery struggles of our souls. These things, the tools God uses most, are the things that make our faith more mature, perfecting in us the image of Christ.

In yesterday’s post, I recounted the story of the apostle Peter stepping out of the boat and walking on water. Peter’s faith was tested then, but it was tested much more severely later. Before Jesus was crucified, he told his disciples that all of them would deny him. Peter, who was a little proud and thought he knew what was in his own heart, firmly stated that he would never deny Jesus. Jesus, however, knew what Peter was going to face, and he responded, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31). Peter thought he knew himself; he thought he knew his heart. He thought he would never do what Jesus was saying he would do. But he was wrong. He did not know himself as well as he thought he did.

There are two things about this passage that I want to point out. First, everything that happens to us has to go through God’s hands first. Satan cannot touch those who love Christ without getting permission from God. So, nothing we experience ever takes God by surprise or off guard. Nothing we experience is beyond God’s control. He remains sovereign. Second, because God is all-knowing, He sees the past, present and future. He knows what is going to happen, when it is going to happen, and even allows things that we consider terrible to happen to us. Because of God’s omniscience, Jesus knows what to pray and how to pray for us. He told Simon Peter that he had prayed for him (and all the disciples) so that his faith would not fail when it was tested. Jesus is constantly making intercession for us before God the Father (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). He was already praying for Peter before Peter’s faith was tested. He goes before us and prays for us, long before we can see any storm clouds. He prays for us so that our faith will withstand the trials. He prays that we will continue to hold on to his hand, even when we cannot see him and do not understand. What an awesome revelation: Jesus is always praying for us—he never stops. He knows that if our faith can withstand the storm, we will be stronger and have more of his character reflected in us, which ultimately brings glory to God.

There is another person in the Bible who Satan asked God to let him test. This man was righteous, blameless, revered God and hated evil, but God allowed him to be tested. We read this story in the Book of Job. Satan was convinced that if Job lost all he had, if God allowed terrible things to happen to Job, then Job would turn his back on God. God granted Satan permission to take all Job had, except Job’s life. Job lost everything—his wealth, his home, his children, and his health. He wrestled with questions about why such trials were coming upon him. He was accused of sinning by his friends, who thought that he had done something bad to bring God’s punishment on him. Job was even told by his wife to curse God and die. Everyone around Job was asking him to turn his back on God. Although Job was experiencing pain, despair, and confusion, he refused to listen to those who encouraged him to forsake his faith. The calamities that occurred happened rapidly, and Job had no warning. In the first chapter of Job, things seem to go from bad to worse to worst. Yet, look at how Job chose to respond in the face of the trials. In Job 1:20-21, we read: “Then Job stood up, tore his robe, and shaved his head. He fell to the ground and worshiped, saying: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh.” (HCSB, emphasis mine). Through all the loss, suffering, pain, and despair, Job never sinned and he never blamed God for what was happening. In fact, during the darkest period of his life, Job made the decision to continue to praise God and to place his faith in God. He continued to worship God. He continued to live righteously and revere God. What an awesome legacy to leave! God honored Job’s obedience by not only restoring what Job had lost, but also by giving Job more than what he had before the trials.

So, why am I telling you these stories about Peter and Job? Because the Truth has not changed. God has not changed. God allowed Satan to do everything he could to destroy my marriage, my family, and my faith. But, there was one thing that Satan could not do. He could not get me to abandon my faith in God. That was his goal, but even though my faith was shaken, it was not destroyed. The very thing that Satan intended to use to destroy my faith was the thing that God used to increase my faith. But, the choice was mine—I could turn my back on God or I could turn to God. God was able to use the events in my life for my good and His glory because I remained submitted to His will. I chose to embrace what God had for me, regardless of what I was seeing and feeling, because I knew that God was holding me. Even when my world seemed to be spinning out of control, God was always in control.