Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
Our immediate and natural instinct is to trust what we can see, touch, and feel and to rely on our ability to figure out solutions to any problem. When the chips are down, we “lean” on our ability to analyze situations and figure out what to do next.
In fact, many of us become obsessed with figuring out what to do when times are tough. We call it “worry.” We can’t concentrate on the job in front of us because we’re still thinking about the problem, situation, or comment that absorbs our minds. We can’t sleep because we go over our fears and our plans again and again. We create scenarios and weigh options. We try to imagine other’s responses, and our fears compound. Leaning on our own understanding may not sound like such a bad thing (after all, God gave us our minds), but hours, days, and weeks of endless analysis, confusion, and self-doubt can dominate our lives.
Our instinct, though, is flawed and limited. Another source of wisdom is far superior to our ability to figure things out. We are connected with the God of the universe, the One who know all, sees all, and is powerfully able to accomplish anything He desires. The more we grasp this fundamental fact of the Christian faith, the more we will learn to overcome our instincts and trust in an unseen but all-seeing God.
The longer I live the more faith I have in Providence, and the less faith in my interpretation of Providence.
By whose wisdom, knowledge, or strength will you use to get you through life? Yours? Some other human? Some institution? Or will we tap into the wisdom, strength, and knowledge of God, the Creator of the universe? You see our problem is that in the best case scenario we don’t have sufficient wisdom or knowledge or strength so we are left with nothing but worry, fear and anxiety. Most of us manage the things which we have sufficient knowledge, wisdom or strength but it’s those things beyond our control that leave us searching for some resolution. It’s those things that keep us up and keep our minds seeking and discarding every failed attempt to resolve the unresolvable. So we pace the floor and fret and worry. Sometimes things drive us farther into more destructive behaviors. For example, it’s reported that there’s a steep increase in substance abuse, mental health issues, and other forms of destructive behaviors as a reactive response to the pandemic. The song writer told us that “In times like these we need an Anchor.” While we may cope with life at manageable levels, there are those occasions when it’s beyond us. Things happen that we can’t explain or understand the why and when they do we need something to hold on to. Proverbs instructs us in those times to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Easier said than done. I don’t know about your life but I find that the very things I have brought to God somehow wind up coming back around again and again. So it’s not a matter of a single prayer. It’s a matter of consistent praying without ceasing. Part of our prayer needs to include the confession that we don’t understand. I think that part of life and living is its questions. There’s an old song that says, “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand.” That’s the secret. We confess to God that we don’t know how to manage our challenges so we turn to Him and seek His eternal wisdom and tap into His unfailing strength. It’s not the idea that life is a stroll in the park, but it is the idea of living in a place of peace, unexplainable peace. And not peace that comes from something we can create as humans through denial or positive thinking, but a peace that is given as a gift from our Father who loves us more than we can imagine. To know that God truly loves us is the foundation on which our absolute trust rests. To believe in His absolute power and infinite wisdom gives us a sense of security even in the storm. To know that He is with us give us a ray of hope. One of the great lessons we learn from the story of the disciples is that God is aware, God cares and God has the power to alter our circumstances. Remember when the disciples were in the boat in the storm and Jesus was with them. As the storm increased its intensity until it moved beyond their level to manage it, they cried out to Jesus. They were amazed that someone could be filled with so much peace they could sleep in a tossing boat in the middle of a violent storm. It’s their question that provides us insight. “Lord, don’t you care that we perish?” Now logically, if they perished, then so would Christ because He had placed Himself with them in the same boat in the same storm. That’s what we have got to know. We have got to get the fact that God places Himself in our circumstances and He shares them together with us. Oh how often to we say those words: “Lord, don’t you care that we perish? And how often do we find God responding with a touch, a comfort, a word, or a miracle? Of all the things we think we can trust in, only God has the record of never failing. So wherever you are, whatever life has dished out, if you’re over your head, out of your league, remember the Lord over the storm is in the boat with you!
Dr. John Thompson