Your car is broken down and you don’t have the money to get it fixed. The company is laying off workers. Your daughter is pregnant, but she is not married. Your marriage is coming apart. The list could go on and on, but you know the sort of pain I am talking about.
God, did you bring me this far just to destroy me and embarrass me?
The answer is no, He did not. Regardless of what you are facing, God is able to use the ugliness of life as fertile soil for the beautiful roses of His grace.
So, next time your world is coming apart, REST!
R – Remember God is sovereign.
I know you are tempted to say “amen” and go on. But, stay with me for a moment. It is easy to amen to the sovereignty of God when someone else is in trouble, and much harder when my own world is collapsing.
What does it mean that God is sovereign?
It means God controls the circumstances. Remember when the Israelis came out of Egypt? God lead them to the Red Sea (Exodus 14:1-4). He even told them exactly where to camp. God then brought the Egyptian army in behind them. With the Red Sea in front and the greatest army in that day behind them, they were trapped.
They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?…” (Exodus 14:11). Can you feel the stress in their cry? Their circumstances are about to kill them, or at least the stress might give them a heart attack.
Moses’ response is what we really need to pay attention to. “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13) Let me paraphrase that for you, relax and watch what God does.
What are circumstances that are stressing you out?
Remember, God is the God of and over circumstances. So, relax.
E – Exhale
I wanted to say breathe deep but E fit better with the REST acronym, so I went with exhale.
Breathing deep and exhaling slowly has a tremendous calming effect on the body and the soul. It slows the pace and gives you a moment to focus. Take a moment and control your breathing by inhaling slowly through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth. There is nothing especially spiritual about this, but it is effective.
S – Seek – Seek the hand, the presence of God in the circumstances.
God is the God of revelation, He makes Himself known. Sometimes Christians have this idea that we discover God or His will. In Scripture God is not hiding, He is revealing. The whole universe declares His glory (Psalm 19:1).
If Israel had only paused for a moment they would have seen that God was about to glorify His name. “…I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD…” (Exodus 14:4)
Look at the circumstances which are causing you so much stress and ask God to reveal Himself in them.
T – Trust – Trust God
Whatever is going on God is going to use it for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
The children of Israel panicked even though they had the promises of God.
They were being led by God’s prophet, the promises to Abraham were part of the national consciousness, and they had all witnessed the miracles of God which plagued the Egyptians.
But, they refused to trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Notice I said refused. They had plenty of evidence of God’s power and of His love, but they made the conscious decision to refuse to see the hand of God in their circumstances instead of the God of the circumstances.
How are you doing in the stress causing situations you are facing? Are you RESTing in God or panicking in your circumstances?
When the stressors are present, REST! Ask God to let you see His hand at work in your circumstances and let Him increase your faith.
Instead of “Oh no! How am I going to fix this?” cry out to God and ask “Oh wow! What are You going to do God? And then REST.
We are to be sensitive to God’s voice, respond to it in obedience and to experience God’s rest!
I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it.
I believe in God even when He is silent.
These three lines were scratched into the wall of a German concentration camp during World War two. In the midst of the horror, someone declared their faith in the God that did not answer the way they thought He would.
How do you believe in something you can’t see or experience?
- I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining because I have already seen its light and felt its warmth.
- I believe in love even when I don’t feel it because I have already been embraced by its light and felt its warmth.
- I believe in God even when He is silent because I have already seen the light and knelt in His presence.
Where do you turn in the silence?
When life is easy we all find it easy to rest in the Lord. I can easily trust in the God of comfort and ease. But when life is challenging many of us find ourselves challenging God. “Why have you treated me this way God?”
In those times resting in the Lord becomes, wrestling with the Lord. What is the answer? Where do we turn in the dark coldness of silence? We turn to the same place we found light and warmth in the past, we turn to His Word.
How is it possible to rest in the Lord?
Resting in the Lord requires knowing the Lord intimately, personally. It means I know the Lord as I would know my spouse or my best friend, or perhaps knowing Him even better.
But I will only know Him intimately as I study His Word. This is the hard part about spiritual growth, it requires actual Bible study. The temptation for most of us believers is to listen to great sermons or teachers, read books written by good people, sing our favorite songs, talk to our friends about God and go to the best church in town instead of spending time reading our Bibles. But, listen to me – there is no substitute for actually reading the Bible itself!
Remember, in order to REST I must trust. To trust fully, most of the time and for most of us, I must know the one I am trusting in well.
Rest in His Word
Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Palm 119:105
The passage is so familiar I am afraid that we breeze too quickly by it without pausing to think about the implications.
The Psalmist is not referring to just any word, but the Word of God, the Bible. The Psalmist wants us to be very sure we understand exactly what he is talking about. This is not a statement about the latest Christian book or worship song, but a statement, or a promise if you will, concerning the Word of God, the Bible.
“is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
The Bible lights my path. In the darkness of silence (I only need a lamp or a light when I am in the darkness) the Bible is my light. In those times when God does not answer as I think He should, in those times when the heavens seem silent, I can trust the Word of God to show me the way.
Even when heaven is silent, the Word of God speaks.
The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130
The Word of God studied or unfolded, gives light and understanding.
One of the problems we all face with God’s silence in the face of our pain or suffering is that innate human desire for an explanation. The great “Why?” dominates our thinking in times of stress, silence, and darkness.
The unfolding of Scripture gives understanding, or to put it another way, it answers the “why?” Sometimes the answer is hard to hear, and sometimes it is not an answer we like, but the Word of God gives understanding of our circumstances and of the God of our circumstances.
On more than one occasion when God was silent I found myself drawn to Romans 8:28.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28
In the cold silence I found warmth in the light of His Word.
In this world we will have tribulation, and in our tribulation God is sometimes silent in that He doesn’t seem to answer our prayers the way we believe He should. In those moments what do we do? We rest in the Word. The Word, not our feelings, is the light for our path. Our “Why?” is answered in His Scriptures not in our logic or reasoning.
To rest in the Word is to relax knowing the Word of God and the God of the Word are both true. Rest, read, and refresh your spirit with the words of your Creator.
When the decision was made to do Genesis this fall I was a little bummed. After all how many times do you need to study creation? I already knew what God created and when, what else is there to learn? But as usual, God spoke and reality set in – There is always something to learn in scripture no matter how many times you study it. I found that we/I are so familiar with the first verses of Genesis that we don’t give them the attention they deserve. So with that said I am going to share some thoughts from Genesis 1:1-5.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God ….
The name for God here is Elohim – “el” means mighty, strong; the “im” ending is a plural ending, but has a singular verb. God (plural) created. So what? You may ask. The trinity (God, Son and Holy Spirit) was present at creation! Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2) Jesus – John 1:1-4, 14-18; Heb 1:1-3; Col1:15-17, Rev 4:11 (more…)