There are times when it looks as if God has not shown up — when his people have been left in shame and despair — but the full story has not yet been told. Throughout the Bible God has had people whose flint-like faith proved his faithfulness during the most difficult of times. These servants unashamedly committed the Lord to act.
Let’s consider Moses at the Red Sea, which was a humanly impossible situation. Israel was on the run from the Egyptian army, hemmed in on one side by the sea and by mountains on the other. It was here that Moses committed God to his promises. He had already prophesied that God would lead Israel into the Promised Land and now the Lord’s reputation was at stake for all to see.
Imagine the reports that were getting back to Pharaoh. All of Egypt expected to see the Israelites brought back in chains but what was Moses’ reaction to this crisis? He confidently said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you will see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:13-14).
Moses so believed in God’s care, trusting his word to lead Israel into his promise, that he declared, “I know the Lord is faithful and I’m going to act on his word!” Think about the consequences of such faith. If the Red Sea didn’t open up miraculously, Moses would be thought a fool. The Israelites would go back into bondage, and God would never again be trusted. Yet we all know what happened: As Moses stretched out his hand, the waters divided, and the people walked across on dry ground. I tell you, no one who fully trusts in God will ever be put to shame. God will deliver on His promise for His own name’s sake.
Not one of God’s children who fully trusts in his Word will ever be put to shame. He will deliver on his promise for his own name’s sake!
“The arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous … They shall not be ashamed in the evil time” (Psalm 37:17, 19). This amazing prophecy for God’s people is being fulfilled right before our eyes. Psalm 37 tells us the Lord rises to action against a society whose sins have outraged heaven. Yet this same psalm is one of great hope, containing an incredible promise to those who put their trust fully in the Lord.
God says he will “uphold the righteous,” which simply means that God is faithful in his recompense of woes, but also in his promises. David is saying, in effect, “Look around you and see how God keeps his Word. His warnings are now being manifested in your headlines, his actions all over your media. Will not God also keep his Word to preserve his chosen ones?”
No matter what happens in the world — no matter how fearful the news becomes, how severely the world shakes — God’s people will not be left ashamed. Indeed, the Lord will act on our faith to fulfill his Word to us. We may suffer, but he will come through for all who fully trust in him.
Christians are going to face impossibilities in the days ahead, but our Lord will provide miracles when there is no human answer. In fact, he willingly puts his reputation in the hands of his people, calling us to commit him to his Word. You may say, “God can defend his own name; he doesn’t need me.” Not so! God has chosen his people to be his testimony to a numb, unmoved world and he is calling us to openly commit him to do what he promises.
“You, O God the Lord, deal with me for Your name’s sake; because Your mercy is good, deliver me” (Psalm 109:21). God will never put his trusting people to shame. He will keep his Word because his own honor is at stake.
There is a terrible famine raging in the land today. Not a famine of food but of human need. Multitudes are starving for love and affection; for peace and contentment; for purpose and fulfillment. The word famine actually means “extreme scarcity, unfulfilled hunger, starvation of any kind.” That pretty well sums up the emptiness so many are experiencing today.
A simple and biblical way out of despair and spiritual famine is found in a single word — hope. Hope is a growing inner faith that what you need is possible. “Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matthew 19:26).
Hope is the assurance that all things will turn out for your good in God’s time. “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). You may think you are doomed to despair, but God has promised to do right by you, in his time, in his way.
Hope is a confidence in the face of no visible evidence; confidence that says, “I don’t see it yet, but I am going to start thanking and praising God now. He has already made provision for me.” It is also complete trust that in spite of all the odds, God is going to work on your behalf and hold you steady. “The Lord knows the days of the upright … and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied … for the Lord upholds him with His hand” (Psalm 37:18-19, 24).
Will that famine you are experiencing keep you separated from Christ’s love? Never! “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Jesus loves you so much that he will never let you down or fail you. Come to him honestly with hope in your heart and tell him, “Lord, you are going to see me through and deliver me with your power. I praise you for that.”
“You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do … You learned Christ …and were taught in him … to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life … and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:17, 20-24).
Paul does not mind challenging the Ephesians on the issue of overcoming sin. In fact, he does not hesitate to preach about sin. He addresses the topic boldly, even though these are Spirit-filled, on-fire believers who had withstood persecution and witnessed to thousands of people. Why dare bring up the matter of sin among such great Christians? Because we sin — plain and simple. We all have the propensity to move back into sins we have been rescued from. This in no way means we lose our salvation, but the pleasure of our relationship with Christ is threatened because sin breaks that sense of intimacy, the nearness and freshness of his presence.
Paul refers to “the old self or the old man” that falls back into a pattern of sinning in an area we have been weak in. In Ephesians 4:18 and 19 he mentions darkened understanding, hardness of heart, deceit, greed, sensuality, to name a few — all sins that find their way into our lives even though we are walking with Christ. But he offers a remedy! Christ has enabled us to put off the old self — the old nature — and keep him off.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God is on your side and you are on his side. He wants you to be free from sin more than you want to be free; he wants you to be holy more than you want to be holy. As you walk with your Lord in freedom, allow him to continually create new life and a pathway to victory!
“Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3).
When people see the strength of God in you as you walk through the same difficulties they do, they will stand back in awe and think, “Surely there must be a God! We are walking through the same waters, yet what is causing me to drown seems to be replenishing him. He has an inner strength I don’t have.” Paul said it this way: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Paul was never one to hide the fact that there would be trials in the Christian life. Later in that passage of Scripture he goes on to say, “We do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia” (1:8). Paul was reminding us that we are going to go through trials, but God is going to comfort us. And with the comfort we receive, we are going to be able to comfort others who find themselves in sorrow and confusion.
I believe many Christians will need to experience the comfort of the Lord in the coming days. That is where we must not abandon our brothers and sisters in Christ but, rather, stand alongside them. Many have embraced teachings from preachers who have convinced them that coming to Jesus means they will be exempt from all suffering and trials. Without a clear understanding of what the Christian walk is about, they become open game for the enemy. He comes in and casts doubt upon the faithfulness of God and his promises, causing discouragement to set in.
The world will see your example but you also may find a fellow believer whose faith is shaken by hardships. You can open the Scriptures and offer support. “Look, my friend, you and I serve the same Jesus, so let’s walk together.” The Holy Spirit will enable you to be an encouraging voice and an example of what it means to walk in victory and stability during difficult times.
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.