It is easy to speak of trusting the Lord in a crisis situation and to cite Bible verses about his faithfulness and dependability. There are many such verses in the Bible and reading them is worthwhile whether you are in a crisis or not. But when the darkness rolls into our lives, when we face uncertainty or some difficult situation, just how do we physically realize the benefits of trusting God? Written words are great, but how do we manifest this into the promised comfort and strength?
On this subject I hope to render some practical advice, attempting to suggest some constructive steps that I have found useful along with some sound Biblical principles. Perhaps there is no perfect answer to this question; surely it is in the darkest times of our lives that we find it most difficult to trust in anything, but I have found that when we are successful at approaching a loving God we find it is exactly in these trying moments that he is actually closest to us.
I think the first step we all must take, or be sure we’ve taken, is to repent. Now “repent” is one of those words that scares a lot of people, or perhaps we could just say it often has a negative connotation. But a quick look at this definition from dictionary.com should help us better understand the meaning of the word: “to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better.” The Bible has much to say about repentance, it is a central tenet of the Christian faith. Indeed, we see in Matthew 4:17 these words: “From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
Simply put, until we repent of our sins, we are not yet in right relationship with God. So let us start by examining ourselves, looking for unconfessed sin, and let us bring that to God. The Apostle Peter taught us in Acts 2:38 that, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” It is not hard to do, each of us knows deep down in our hearts we have done wrong. To deny this is to be disingenuous. So open your heart and get honest with God. Speak the words out loud, he will hear and you will feel him lift the burden of sin from you.
I might think the next two items could come in either order, but let me first suggest prayer. On the subject of prayer I will give no specific formula, other than to pray from your heart and in complete honesty. It is not necessary to know how to pray and you do not need special training. Just get alone and speak to God. Once again I will emphasize the importance of speaking your prayers out loud, there is power in verbalization. Many people also find it helpful to write down their prayers. Keeping a prayer journal will help you see patterns in your prayers and will make it easier to see how God is answering your requests.
I think I have found two key concepts for prayer most helpful: one is to pray expectantly. God longs to answer our prayers and promises to do so. James wrote in his book: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16) And when teaching on prayer in Luke 11:9, Jesus said, “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” So pray expectantly. My other point would be to pray in Jesus’ name, for Jesus promised us in John 14:14, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.” There is power in the name of Jesus!
The last concept I’ll share here is very crucial for the manifestation of God’s presence and strength in our hour of need: we must read the Bible. I could write forever on the need to read the Bible, and almost certainly will say more in future blogs, but a few key reasons will have to suffice for now. First, to feel God’s comfort in times of trial we must have faith, and faith comes from the word of God. “So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17, NKJV) It is in the words of Scripture that we find faith, and with faith being essential for experiencing the comfort of our Lord, our quest for faith must begin within the pages of the Bible.
The Bible is also our source for renewal. And one of the areas we most need renewal is in our thinking. Each of us have endured a lifetime of indoctrination into all kinds of worldly ideas, erroneous teachings, and cultural bias. It doesn’t matter where you live or what culture you have grown up in, whether in small ways or large ways, the simple fact is our thinking has become distorted. And the Bible is our reference point to undo this distortion. Paul beseeches us in Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” And Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Space has run out for this blog, so I will leave you with these two final suggestions that I won’t be able to explore in depth: 1) The Book of Psalms allows us to combine Bible reading and prayer. Each psalm is a great example of bringing a problem or trial before God and seeking His wisdom, power and guidance. Try praying as the psalmists prayed. And lastly, 2) joining a local church allows you to have solid teaching and fellowship that can provide immeasurable hope, support, and healing in difficult circumstance. So if you are not already a member of a church, please consider finding a church soon.
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