Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How do you handle "evil tidings"?

"The Messengers tell Job of his Misfortunes"
by William Blake - 1805-6

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 112:1-10

TO CHEW ON: "He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord." Psalm 112:7

 Ann Voskamp's heart seized up in fear the morning her son mangled his hand in a farm accident. Though she knew, in her head, that God was in control, the death of her baby sister when Ann herself was only four had coloured her heart-perception of God and His sometimes inscrutable ways.

 Jerry Bridges has written an entire book that grapples with this issue. In the introduction to Trusting God Even When It Hurts, he says:

"God's plan and His ways of working out His plan are frequently beyond our ability to fathom and understand. We must learn to trust when we don't understand. In order to trust God we must know Him in an intimate personal way. David said in Psalm 9:10, 'Those who know Your name will trust in You for You Lord have never forsaken those who seek you.' To know God's name is to know Him in an intimate personal way. It is more than just knowing facts about God. It is coming into a deep personal relationship with Him as a result of seeking Him in the midst of our personal pain and discovering Him to be trustworthy" - Jerry Bridges, Trusting God Even When It Hurts, Kindle location 142.

Seeking God in the midst of pain can take various forms. Ann Voskamp came to know and trust Him by practicing gratitude. For over a year she kept a list of God's good gifts to her and wrote about it in the book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Life Fully Right Where You Are).

Another way might be to study what the Bible says about God's sovereignty and love. That's how Jerry Bridges came to write his book.

If we don't have the inclination to do that, we can always benefit from the insights of others. Bridges' book, or others, like J. I. Packer's Knowing God are excellent ways of familiarizing ourselves with God as He is portrayed in the Bible.

Still another way is to memorize, meditate on, and pray scripture passages that assure us of God's sovereignty and love.

Whatever way you and I choose, let's spend time getting to know God today, so that it can be said of us: "He/She will not be afraid of evil tidings."

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to know You so well, to trust You so completely that "evil tidings' will not rock my faith in You. Amen.

MORE: The urgency of sorting out your theology

Rebecca Stark writes:

"In what I believe was God’s providential preparation, in the years right before my husband’s cancer diagnosis, we came to a much fuller understanding of some things about God: that he is working his plan in every bit of the universe all the time; that he has righteous reasons for everything he does, even though we might not—and probably won’t—understand them; and that suffering and death, when they occur, are God’s chosen means to accomplish good things"

She goes on to make the case for sorting out one's view of God (one's theology) before trouble ever strikes by giving examples of how tragedy rocked the faith of some who didn't do that. She concludes:

"If you’ve already come to love a God who you understand to be purposefully working in all things—even the terribly tragic ones—for his good purposes, then you keep on loving and trusting him when real tragedy strikes you. And more than that: You cling to him as the only sort of God who could be a rock for you in difficult times. That you weren’t spared suffering doesn’t throw you for a loop, because you expected that somewhere, sometime, you would have your share of it as God conforms you to the likeness of his son.

You still suffer, of course, but you suffer knowing that there is meaning in your suffering, something that cannot be there if God is simply creation’s uninterested or unknowing overseer. You still suffer, but you suffer with God as a firm comfort and a source of steadfast hope, for you know that your tragedy, in his hands, is working good things."

Read the whole article (and follow the links).

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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