“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 NKJV)
“The righteous face many troubles, but the LORD rescues them from each and every one.”
(Ps 34:19 NLT)
We’re not living in Neverland. Storms will hit your life. Trouble will come your way. And there will be battles that you’ll have to fight.
Now, the last thing you should do when a storm hits you (and it’s often the first thing we do) is to think that God is punishing you for something you did wrong, or that He doesn’t love you anymore, or that He has abandoned you to your own fate. None of that is true. God loves you, and He’ll love you forever!
We have to understand that God is never the cause of storms (Isa 54:15). He’s not the cause of oppression, torment, fear, grief, sorrow, sickness, disease, poverty, adversity, opposition, or persecution in our lives. God’s not confused. He’s not your hater, your opponent, your enemy, or your accuser. He did not come to steal or to destroy your life. He came to give you life (John 10:10). He knows all about your trouble and is always there to rescue you (Ps 46:1). He is with you in your darkest hour. Whatever concerns you directly concerns Him. He will always deliver you out of every fiery trial (Ps 34:19).
In this world you will have trouble. But, take courage! Whatever storm you’re going through, you can conquer. God already made a way of escape before that thing ever hit your life (2 Cor 10:13). You’re not supposed to surrender, to give in, or to give up. Whatever the devil meant for destruction in your life, God will turn around for your good. The very challenge that Satan is trying to use to destroy you, God will use to purify and to prove you and to strengthen your faith like never before (1 Pet 1:6- 7).
Now some storms can be stopped immediately. Some situations can turn around instantly. But there are storms that might take some time to disappear. There are some storms that you’ll have to outlast. If you’re currently in a storm that you’ll have to outlast, know that as you stay close to God and put your trust in Him you will come through. And you will come through as a victor – glorifying the Name of God!
“Even when you are chased by those who seek your life, you are safe in the care of the LORD your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling.”
(1 Sam 25:29 NLT)
Look at Joshua. The moment Joshua and his people entered the Land of Promise they ran into serious opposition. All the kings of the land decided to unite their armies with one purpose – to crush them (Josh 11:1-4).
But Joshua held on to the promises of God through every battle, test, trial, and tribulation, and lived to see that every one of God’s promises came to pass in his life (Josh 23:14).
GET WISDOM FROM GOD
“So David inquired of the LORD.”
(1 Sam 30:8 NKJV)
“Listen now! The Lord isn’t too weak to save you. And He isn’t getting deaf! He can hear you when you call!”
(Isa 59:1 TLB)
When you’re facing a storm, don’t become hysterical. Calm yourself down in the presence of God and ask for wisdom and understanding (James 1:5). God is excellent in guidance. His advice is faithful and true (Isa 25:1; 28:29).
You can’t afford to fall into the trap of making important decisions when you’re anxious, tired, in pain, emotional, or stressed out. And you can’t always rely on your own insight or on that of your friends. It’s tempting to follow the concerned, well-meaning crowd, especially when you’re under pressure, but not all people who come to you with an analysis of the situation, a different solution, or a “word of wisdom” or a “word from God” has God’s solution for your challenge. They may be sincere, but they don’t always discern the purposes and plan of God for your life (Mark 8:31-33). The best thing you can do is to depend on God, and not on people. God knows exactly what you need to hear, and when you need to hear it. Let Him show you the way out (2 Pet 2:9).
Obviously, you don’t have to distrust everybody. You need godly council. You need godly mentors. You need people in your life. You need companionship. You need friends. And God can send someone to you with a word in season. Just ask the Holy Spirit for discernment to distinguish whether it’s a word from God or not. And should that word not be from God, don’t attack the messenger. Just see things in perspective and stick to what you believe!
A BATTLE FOR GOD’S PLAN
“As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.’… But soon a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water.”
(Mark 4:35, 37 NLT)
“The LORD will work out his plan for my life.”
(Ps 138:8 NLT)
God has an expected end for you – to live in His glory. Nothing can stop what God planned for you to have, to do, or to be. He has opened up a door before you that no person or demon in hell can shut (Rev 3:8). The door to His Kingdom is open, the door to freedom is open, the door to healing is open, the door to blessing is open, the door to deliverance is open, the door to eternal, abundant life is open, and the door to your dream is open.
But suddenly, out of nowhere, a great storm arises. Why?
We have an enemy out there. Defeated, yes, but blindly opportunistic and on a serious mission to keep you away from what God already gave you.
If you go through the battles in the Old Testament you’ll see that the people of God had to fight various enemy nations like the Hittites, Amorites, Philistines, and the Canaanites. As people living in the New Testament, we obviously don’t fight against people or nations any longer. Our warfare has shifted from the visible world to the invisible world (Eph 6:10-13). But, Jesus conquered our enemy. Our main battle therefore is to stay in faith and not to lose heart (1 Tim 6:12).
Now remember, Satan is not behind every storm. He’s not behind everything that goes wrong in your life. Things can go wrong without the devil’s help. Sometimes stuff just happens. The devil will just use any storm, and yes, the storm is real, to put you under so much pressure that you’ll become tempted to give up on God and His plan for your life.
“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.”
(Heb 3:12 NKJV)
The devil’s favourite little comment – did God really say? He even tried to pull the same trick on Jesus. “Are you really the Son of God?”
Are you familiar with these thoughts: No, you’re never going to make it. You’re not that special. It will never happen. You’ll never change. It’s too late. God won’t answer your prayer. Yes, God came through for you last month but what about this month? He healed you of that disease but what about this disease? You got yourself so deep into this pit not even God can get you out.
Listen, the devil is a liar (John 8:44)! He will do all he can to poison your heart with unbelief. He will always blow your challenge out of proportion. He will always attack your royal identity. He will always attack your dream. He will always attack your motives. And he will always attack your trust in God.
Whenever he fires his list of lies at you, reject them immediately. Don’t nurture them in your mind, not even for a second. Immediately reject every image of defeat, every threat that can corrupt your faith, or every lie that aims to discredit the integrity and character of God in your heart.
“I think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed, and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead. And he did deliver us from mortal danger. And we are confident that he will continue to deliver us.”
(2 Cor 1:8-10 NLT)
You see, the storm is not really the issue. The disease is not really the issue. The financial challenge is not really the issue. The crisis in your marriage is not really the issue. The real issue is the storm that rages on and on in your head. That is where the battle between life and death is taking place. The toughest battle that you’ll ever have to fight is not against the giants that you see, but against the giants in your mind.
Now whether your mind stays in a state of continual conflict or eventually becomes a place of quietness and trust is entirely up to you. In other words, it’s up to you whether you keep your mind focused upon the Word of God, or on the lies of the enemy.
“My enemies shout at me, making loud and wicked threats.”
(Ps 55:3 NLT)
Focus is what made the difference between David and the soldiers of Israel in the battle against Goliath (1 Sam 17:1-51). It was a time of war and in the Philistine camp was an intimidating giant who threatened the Israelite troops day and night. After forty days of listening to his threats the Israelite army became very discouraged and dreadfully afraid.
What discouraged them and made them afraid? Was it the giant?
No, Goliath was not the problem; they could’ve knocked him down easily. What he said was the problem. His words defeated the men.
And here comes David, a shepherd boy. He saw the same giant. He heard the same threats. But David had a different perspective. He knew His God!
You know, David didn’t fight Goliath because he turned out to be the best man for the job. He was sent to deliver food. But somewhere along the line he heard something about a promise (1 Sam 17:25-27, 30). After making doubly sure about the promise David made a simple decision: I want that. Let that giant shout what he wants to shout. I’m not bowing down to his threats. Compared to my God, who does he think he is anyway? He’s coming down in the name of the Lord. So step aside, I’m going for the king’s promise!
All of us are facing giants. Maybe a giant is threatening you, saying that your business is going down, or that you’re going to die. Maybe a giant is taunting you, saying that your dream is impossible, or that your child is on a road to nowhere and he’s never coming back. What exactly are the voices in your head trying to sell you?
But if you stop to gather your wayward thoughts for a while, what reward did you hear about? What triggered your hope? What promise of God did you pick up? Well, are you going to allow the threats of a defeated enemy to intimidate you, or are you going for the promise?
Yes, you may be on your knees right now, your heart deeply wounded by the enemy’s arrows. Your strength may have left you. Your mind may feel completely numb. You may have no tears left to shed. Your faithful companions may be nowhere in sight. Even Jesus seems to be distant. You may be wondering if this fight of faith is worth the effort. And it’s not that you don’t know that victory belongs to you, you just don’t know if you have the courage left to carry it through to the end.
Listen, don’t back down. Your promise is still a sure thing. The Word of God shall come to pass. Don’t allow moments of intense pressure, or moments of frustration, weariness, weakness, doubt, or utter despair to determine the rest of your future. Use that challenge as an opportunity to bring glory to God. Move forward with an iron will (Luke 9:51). Remember, your battle is to keep on saying what you believe while the real fight is going on in the invisible realm. You are not alone. God is fighting for you. It’s His battle. Just hold your position in His presence and watch how the LORD your God will bring you through (2 Chron 20:17).
Let this encourage you: Elisha and his servant received a death threat from King Aram. When they woke up one morning they saw their city surrounded by the king’s military troops, just waiting for them to show their faces. Panic gripped the heart of the servant. To calm him down Elisha asked God to give the man a glimpse into the unseen realm. What the servant saw must have knocked him to the ground in awe. The hills around the city were covered with thousands of horses and chariots of fire, ready for battle. They were not from this world. And surely, defeat was not on their agenda (2 Kings 6:8-17).
GET A GRIP ON YOUR EMOTIONS
“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on you, Because He trusts in You.”
(Isa 26:3 NKJV)
Have you felt like Jeremiah who blamed God for his situation? “Yet you have failed me in my time of need … Your help is as uncertain as a seasonal mountain brook – sometimes a flood, sometimes as dry as a bone!”
(Jer 15:17-18 TLB)
If you have, don’t feel condemned. We are emotional beings. We’re perfectly able to go through an interesting variety of emotions.
We all know it’s easy to praise God if we feel like it but it’s not easy when we’re tired and we don’t feel like it. It’s easy to stand on His Word when we feel good and strong but it’s a battle to do that when we’re stressed out or discouraged. One day we might feel happy and then we feel God has answered our prayer. The next day we might feel depressed and then we feel God didn’t answer our prayer. If our symptoms improve we might feel that God is indeed healing us. If they go from bad to worse we might feel He has deserted us. If people are nice to us, we feel like praying for them. If they upset us, we might feel that we don’t want to pray for them, ever again.
Well, if we want to see the end of our faith we’ll have to get a grip on our negative emotions. We can’t focus so much on how we feel that we forget the Word of God. Our emotions can go up and down and left and right but the Word of God is settled forever – and on that solid foundation we stand. Thank God that His Word is an anchor for our souls in times when our emotions want to lure us away from the life He promised us.
You know, we all have moments when we feel completely over- whelmed. We all come to the end of our tether. We all freak out at times. We all have our moments of doubt. We all have our crying sessions until we cannot cry a single drop more. At times we seriously think that this is indeed the end. We’re not always on a spiritual high. There are times when our emotions do seem to gain the upper hand.
“Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.”
(Micah 7:8 NKJV)
If you find yourself slipping into a pit of despair, cry out to God (Ps 34:19)! He will grab you by the hand and pull you up and put your feet on solid ground again, with double the determination to continue. Don’t ever believe the lie that God won’t come through for you. God will always strengthen your heart in battle. He will always inspire you to endure. He will always help you to get a grip on your mind. He will always redirect your focus on His promise. And He won’t allow more pressure into your life than you will be able to handle.
KEEP YOUR HEART
“Do not be afraid as you go out to fight today! Do not lose heart or panic. For the LORD your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!”
(Deut 20:3-4 NLT)
Jairus was a man who had the perfect opportunity to lose heart (Luke 8:41-56). His little girl, whom he loved with all his heart, was dying and he begged Jesus to come and heal her. En route to his house Jesus was delayed and the little girl died.
Mary and Martha faced a similar situation when their brother Lazarus died (John 11:1-44). Chances were good that they secretly blamed Jesus. Why did Jesus have to wait until Lazarus was already in the grave before He came, it was not as if He was a thousand miles away? Why couldn’t He just speak a word from wherever He was to heal him, He had done that before, hadn’t He? Why couldn’t He have healed Lazarus when he became sick in the first place, didn’t He love him?
But what did Jesus say? “Lazarus is dead. And for your sake, I am glad that I wasn’t there, because this will give you another opportunity to believe in me. Come, let’s go see him.” (John 11:14-15 NLT)
“Turn to me and have mercy on me, for I am alone and in deep distress. My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all!”
(Ps 25:16-17 NLT)
Brace yourself: there will be times that no matter how strongly you stand in faith, no matter how much you pray, or how much you resist the devil, or how much you praise God, things can go from bad to worse. Your promise can die right before your eyes. Your dream can die right before your eyes. Your whole life can die right before your eyes. Whatever it is that you believe God for, the very hope that keeps you alive, can die right before your eyes.
And when that happens, what do you do? Question the will of God? Surrender to defeat? No, you go through that dark hour!
Maintain your position in the presence of God. Don’t ever allow the devil or people or negative emotions to topple you from your place of safety. Keep your faith in God. Go back to what you first heard and believed and hold on to it. Keep on saying what you believe. Never lose your vision. Never lose sight of God’s faithfulness, and His ability to bring His Word to pass. Keep a positive attitude. Keep on praising God. Refuse to listen to people who tell you that it cannot be done, or that it will never happen. And refuse to talk yourself out of your promise.
Lazarus and the little girl died. But death did not stop Jesus. He brought them both back to life. Now, did Jesus lie when He said that they’re not dead but only sleeping (John 11:11; Luke 8:52)? No, He saw things through the eyes of faith. You should do the same. We live by faith and not by sight, remember (2 Cor 5:7)!
If God gave you a promise, stick to it even though death may have stolen it for a time. Things will change. The situation will turn around. The decree of your King still has the final say. Be like Abraham who, against all natural hope, believed in spiritual hope. Nothing in the world offered Abraham a remote glimpse of hope. But his hope was in God, who made the promise (Rom 4:18-21)!
“It’s better to trust the LORD than to put confidence in people.”
(Ps 118:8 NLT)
It’s always better to put your trust in God than to put your trust in people. It’s always better to put your trust in God than to put your trust in yourself. And it’s always better to put your trust in God than to put your trust in what you see or in what you feel. Look at Abraham again. He refused to focus on his own body. He refused to focus on the barrenness of his wife. He didn’t make a natural assessment of the situation; he made a spiritual assessment. He kept his focus on the promise of God, and on God’s willingness and ability to bring His Word to pass. And God blessed him for that.
It’s comforting to know that Abraham and Sarah weren’t born with great faith. When they first heard the promise of God they both laughed. Not because they were thrilled, no, they didn’t believe a word God said (Gen 17:17; 18:12)! Eventually, they became strong in faith by staying focused on the promise of God. They became strong in faith by learning to trust God.
Reaching that place of quiet trust and confidence in your King will not usually happen overnight. For some of us it will come through many tears, many lonely nights crying out to God, resisting constant temptations to give up, standing strong against opposition and persecution, pressing in, and holding on. But keep on going. Endure to the end.
“Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you.”
(Heb 10:35 NLT)
There’s no God like our God, who is mighty and willing to save to the utmost. His love is strong enough to deliver you. It does not matter who or what comes against you, God will be right there to walk you through the valley of the shadow of death. He will be right there to walk you through the valley of weeping. He will be right there to walk you through the fire. He will always see you through to overwhelming victory (Isa 43:1-3; Ps 44:3-8).
During times of intense pressure make a decision to find your strength in the Lord (1 Sam 30:6). Find your comfort in Him (2 Cor 1:3-4). Put your hope in Him alone (Ps 33:20-22). Put your confidence in Him alone (Prov 3:26). Don’t let fear overwhelm you, believe in Him (Mark 5:36). The God who made you will never fail you (1 Pet 4:19). To abandon you will bring dishonour to His great Name (1 Sam 12:22)!