When Jesus asked the father of the demon-possessed son how long he had been that way, the man replied, “From childhood” (Mark 9:21). In other words, it had been a long time. It was this long, ongoing difficulty that sparked the father’s desire to seek God’s help. God will use the difficult season in our lives to bring about a desire to seek him and to have faith in his deliverance.
Take, for example, Elijah. James 5:17 says, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.” Elijah knew that his prayer would bring about unprecedented hardship upon the nation. But this was necessary because the king of Israel had led the people down a sinful path. In essence, Elijah wanted the nation to turn back to God and was prepared to pray to that end, even if it meant it would take three and a half years to be answered. Basically, Elijah was saying, “Whatever it takes, Lord, whatever it takes!”
Now God could say immediately after Elijah prayed that it was done — it was answered. But there was a season between when the prayer was prayed and the answer was manifested. You can pray for family members who are not believers, and God can say, “Done! I’ve heard your prayer, and the answer is on the way … but it’s going to take some time. I need to allow them to go through difficulties so their desire is turned from the world to Me.”
When you read about the whole event in 1 Kings 18, you know that Elijah’s prayer was answered immediately when he prayed it, but God had a special timing for Elijah to see his prayer completely fulfilled. Likewise, when you pray, it takes time, so don’t give up! Three and a half years of false comfort would have to be taken away from Israel and they needed to go through hard times to realize that they needed God.
Back to the demon-possessed son, when the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why could we not drive the demon out?” Jesus said to them that this kind of demonic possession only comes out with persistent prayer and fasting. In other words, “Don’t give up if you don’t see the answer immediately.” What God has promised, he will do!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001. In May of 2020 he transitioned into a continuing role as General Overseer of Times Square Church, Inc.
This message is for every Christian who is on the brink of exhaustion, overwhelmed by your present situation. You have been a faithful servant, feeding others, confident that God can do the impossible for his people. Yet you have lingering doubts about God’s willingness to intervene in your present struggle.
Think of those in the Body of Christ whom you have given words of faith and hope, people facing seemingly hopeless situations. You’ve urged them, “Hang on! God is a miracle worker, and his promises are true. Don’t lose hope — he is going to answer your cry.”
Jesus made a statement to believers in every generation: “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way” (Matthew 15:32). He is telling us, “I will do more for my people than heal them. I’m going to make sure they have enough bread to eat. I am concerned about everything concerning their lives.”
We all believe God can work miracles. We believe in every miracle we have read in Scripture. Yet, that is not enough. God’s question to all his people right now is, “Do you believe I can work a miracle for you?” And not just one miracle, but a miracle for every crisis, every situation we face.
Our faith in troubled times obtains for us the testimony of “a good report.” “For by [their faith] the elders obtained a good report” (Hebrews 11:2). The Greek word for “obtained” here means “to bear witness, to become a testimony.” Our ancestors in the Lord had a settled, anchored faith. And their unwavering faith became a testimony to the world of God’s faithfulness in the midst of troubled times.
As you rest in him through storms, holding your faith position, you are obtaining a “good report.” And you are serving as a beacon of hope to those around you. Those who watch your life — at home, at work, on your block —are learning that hope is available to them.
Our God has supplied us with everything needed to sustain our faith, even as calamities increase. We have been given the witness of the Holy Spirit, who abides in us, and God’s fully revealed Word in the Scriptures. These will sustain us, obtaining for us the testimony of a good report even as the world shakes.
God’s people need a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a supernatural touch even greater than the one at Pentecost. Jesus’ followers at Pentecost didn’t have to fear nuclear weapons. They didn’t tremble as the entire world economy hovered on the brink of collapse.
It is clear we need Holy Ghost power to face these last days. Indeed, the cry that’s called for today was heard in Isaiah’s day: “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down … to make Your name known” (Isaiah 64:1-2).
This cry was uttered by a prophet grieving over the lethargy of God’s people, a man who knew clearly what was needed: a supernatural visitation from the Lord. Isaiah was saying, “Lord, we can’t go on as we have, with the same dead religious routine. We need a touch from you such as we’ve never known.”
Christ’s church today has been blessed with more tools for evangelism than any other generation. We have more media outlets for the gospel — more books, websites, TV and radio — than ever before. Yet, in nation after nation, a Christian can walk into a Bible-believing church and come away without experiencing the presence of Jesus.
One hundred twenty believers had gathered in a rented room in Jerusalem at a time much like Isaiah’s day — a period of great religious observance, with multitudes flocking to the temple. There was great pageantry, and yet these assemblies were lifeless, with the people merely going through the motions, observing rituals.
How could this be? This generation had sat under the fiery preaching of John the Baptist and Jesus himself had walked among them, working miracles. Yet they were lifeless, dry, empty. Jesus never gave up on his people, however, and prophesied to his disciples, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). The hundred and twenty disciples gathered in the Upper Room “with one accord in one place” (2:1). And we know what happened. The Holy Spirit fell upon them and every mountain of opposition was melted. Many were saved and the church was established.
Right now, the Lord is hearing his people’s cry all over the world. And he is pouring out his Holy Spirit with his own cry: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). As the Spirit falls and stirs our hearts, let this be our cry also: “Behold, Jesus is coming. Let us go out to meet him!”
The writer of Hebrews says to his readers, “By this time you ought to be teachers” (Hebrews 5:12). These are strong, bold words. Who exactly is the writer addressing here? In short, who is he rebuking? The book of Hebrews shows us he is speaking to believers who have been well-schooled in biblical truth. In other words, those reading this letter had sat under powerful preaching by many anointed ministers. Consider all that these Christians had been taught:
All this is found in the first four chapters of Hebrews and now, in chapter 5, the writer addresses those gathered: “After all this sound teaching, you are still dull of hearing and need someone to teach you.”
Does this apply to you? Think of all that has been learned by this present generation of Christians. How many sermons have we heard that challenge us to trust the Lord in all things? How many times have we heard God’s incredible promises preached? And yet, how often are we quickly deflated when a trial comes?
Dearly beloved, what is your life saying to those around you? How does the book of your life read? Are you a teacher in hard times, ministering to others by your example? It is impossible to keep faith without boldly going to the throne in prayer for all you need. I urge you to go to the Lord daily for all the mercy you need. He is calling you forth as one of his teachers!
“[God] said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then [Moses] said to Him, ‘If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here’” (Exodus 33:14-15).
Moses knew it was God’s presence among them that set them apart from all other nations. The same is true of God’s people today. The only thing that sets us apart from nonbelievers is God’s presence “with us,” leading us, guiding us, working his will in and through us. His presence drives out fear and confusion.
Moses’ attitude was essentially, “We operate on one principle alone. The only way for us to be guided and survive in these times is to have God’s presence with us. When his presence is in our midst no one can destroy us. But without him we are helpless, reduced to nothing. Let all the nations of the world trust in their mighty armies, iron chariots and skilled soldiers. We will trust in the presence of the Lord.”
Consider King Asa, the man who led God’s people to a miraculous victory over Ethiopia’s million-man army. He testified it was God’s presence that had scattered the enemy: “Asa cried out to the Lord, and said, ‘Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us … for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude … So the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa” (2 Chronicles 14:11-12).
As Asa led his triumphant army back to Jerusalem, the prophet Azariah met him at the city gate with this message: “Hear me, Asa … The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you … but when in their trouble [Israel] turned to the Lord God … and sought Him, He was found by them” (2 Chronicles 15:2-4). The Lord reminded Asa in no uncertain terms: “Asa, it was my presence that got you this victory and don’t you ever forget it.”
I cannot imagine how unbelievers can know any peace whatsoever in these perilous times without the presence and assurance of Jesus. Fear and anguish now hang over humankind like a black cloud. Thank God for the nearness and closeness of Jesus in this awful hour. He rejoices over you and will walk with you through everything.