Sunday, July 30, 2006

Desperation & Intervention

Sitting in church this morning the speaker asked us to think of the things in our lives which are our places of desperation. As he suggested many areas where people find those places, I found many of them ringing true with me. In the area of work, there are the joint struggles of running a construction firm and beginning real estate in a down market. In the area of family, there is the struggle of my dad's health problems, wanting to help but unable to do so, the rift that has developed between some family members over that issue. I have a son in Iraq, a daughter in California, marrying someone I don't know who does not share our faith, and another son heading back to college. In the area of finances, while we make money (at least on paper) we are often cash poor. In the area of health, well, I don't want to go into that again. There are often the struggles just to deal with loneliness. Well, if you've read my blog you know what I'm talking about.

The thing is, that we are not meant to live without struggles, and perhaps we aren't meant to understand what is going on. It isn't that we are supposed to solve the problems, but that we are to walk through the problems with Christ. We are to learn who God is and how he acts for us in the midst of adversity, and how he wants to walk with us, so that we begin to walk in faith and trust.

Indeed, how else should we walk? If the Old Testament is to be taken as history (and I believe that it is), then we should remember that when things were at their bleakest God stepped in. When three of the children of Isreal, Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzer, they were bound and thrown into a furnace so hot that the soldiers who had thrown them in died.

When the King took a look, he saw not three rotisseried Isrealites, but four men, unbound, walking in the furnace. The fourth man, according to the king was the Son of God. God stepped in when things appeared to be at their worst. These guys refused to bow to a false idol. They followed their God at all cost. And God was with them to the point of keeping them from singed hair, clothing or even the smell of smoke. I guess the point for me is once again to remember that God is in the business of caring for and taking care of those who are his own. I have no reason for panic. If there were a time for panic, being bound and ordered to be thrown into a furnace heated up to seven times what it had been before would be the time. When the soldiers were killed by the heat and flames, I would likely have turned into a blubbering fool. The panic I feel when things go wrong is unworthy of my experience of God's caring intervention in the circumstances of my life. My past experience is of a God who cares and never leaves me alone in the midst of trials. I may not understand the trial, the sickness, the financial difficulty, the family trouble, the turmoil in the world, injustice, whatever, but God has never failed me. Not ever.

A song I have sung says "Sometimes he calms the storm and other times he calms his child." I have found this to be true. Thinking on the faithfulness of a God who does not change, may not make me understand the trial, but it does give me hope and quiet confidence that this too shall pass.

So in the midst of a persistent depression, (a mild one, don't worry) I trust that this too shall be a season in which God displays his faithfulness, his love and his abundant mercy. Why do I doubt that the God who kept Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego safe in the inferno will care for me? God intervenes on my behalf during times of desperation.

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