In 1989 I traveled to eastern Canada, conducting evangelistic meetings and testifying of the goodness of God in various churches that were in need of encouragement. Now when you return home from any season of traveling, you usually expect to find some personal rest and comfort. The last thing you expect to find is your house burned to the ground.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
In our times of trial and temptation, Satan comes to us bringing lies: “You’re surrounded now and there is no way out. You’re a failure, otherwise you wouldn’t be going through this. There’s something wrong with you and God is sorely displeased.”
In the midst of his trial, Hezekiah acknowledged his helplessness. The king realized he had no strength to stop the voices raging at him, voices of discouragement, threats and lies. He knew he couldn’t deliver himself from the battle, so he sought the Lord for help. And God answered by sending the prophet Isaiah to Hezekiah.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13, ESV).
It was the apostle Paul who penned those words to exhort the believers in Ephesus. Another translation says it this way: “Then after the battle you will still be standing firm” (NLT). Of course, there would not be much weight to Paul’s words had he himself not gone through the fire and ultimately been able to stand.
How did the Holy Ghost bring comfort to Paul during his downcast times? The apostle himself tells us: “Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (2 Corinthians 7:6). Titus arrived in Macedonia with a refreshing spirit, and suddenly Paul’s heart was lifted. As the two men fellowshipped, joy flooded through Paul’s body, mind and spirit, and the apostle wrote, “I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation” (7:4). Paul was declaring, “I still face problems, but the Lord has given me what I need for the battle. He has refreshed me through Titus.”
In the days when the Philistines gathered to fight against Israel with 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen and people as numerous as the sand of the seashore, King Saul and the men of Israel perceived that they were in danger and began to hide in caves and holes. The Scripture says that others followed Saul in Gilgal, trembling. Yet there was one who was not found among the fearful. Jonathan, son of Saul, turned to his armor bearer and said, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us.
When you and I go through difficult times, we may feel God is silent or far. We want God to show up in this big victorious way, but in reality, God often reveals himself to us in the gentle whisper. Carter Conlon reminds us to have reverence that leads to praise, even when we don't see the victory.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
Of all 150 Psalms, Psalm 34 is my absolute favorite. It is all about our Lord’s faithfulness to deliver his children from great trials and crises. David declares, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears…The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them…The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles… Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:4,7,17,19).
“[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.