Never Lose Heart
[Jesus] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart Luke 18:1
People who read the Bible fairly regularly notice some statements that are regularly repeated “Fear not, Wait on the Lord, and Don’t lose heart. Why does God give us these messages so often? Because it’s so easy to give in to fear, to become impatient with God‘s timing, and to give up and quit because following God seems too hard.
Jesus told a story to address the problem of an unanswered prayer – or at least, confusing delays in God‘s answers to our prayers. A widow went to a judge to get an answer to a legal dispute, but he ignored her. She wouldn’t quit. She kept going back again and again. Finally, the exhausted and exasperated Judge gave her an answer. Jesus must have had a smile on His face when He compared our loving, compassionate Father with the stubborn, neglectful Judge in the story. “Surely,” Jesus explained, we can trust the Father to answer us if we plead with Him night and day.”(see Luke 18:7)
How long have you prayed for a particular person or about a specific situation? Delays may occur for many reasons. God may be preparing the situation or the person, or He may be preparing us to receive what we’ve ask for. Or He may be working in our heart to show us that we can trust Him even when he says no to our persistent request. In any case we can be sure that eventually, we’ll receive an answer from God, and with that assurance we won’t lose heart.
“Life is a grindstone. But whether it grinds us down or polishes us depends on us. Thomas L. Holdcroft.
Franklin Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear comes in many forms. Lately I heard some accuse others of fear due to their taking precautions with Covid. Whether we choose to worship in-person or online or drive-in; whether we choose to be vaccinated or not; whether we choose to socially distant or return to normal gatherings isn’t necessarily driven by fear. To be sure they can be but they certainly aren’t issues of faith. It’s not lack of faith that moves our preferential decisions and thankfully we as individuals are able to make those decisions personally. There are underlying fears that we don’t think about or speak about. I think there are those who are afraid that life is permanently changed. There are those who are concerned that the church is morphing into a different set of activities. We all recognize that change has come and we are fearful that it is lasting. In almost every occasion when people have heard the words, “Fear not” there was something about to change. It was the words that Joshua heard just before the Israelites crossed the Jordan into Canaan. After more than 400 years of slavery, they had been delivered by God and led by Moses out of Egypt. One would think that their liberty would have been exciting but because we haven’t known slavery and the security of it we can’t comprehend that instead of joy liberty brought fear. All change, even good change has an element of fear so God gives us comfort in those words, “Fear not.” The people who were going into Canaan had only known the wilderness for the generation that came out of Egypt had died and this generation were the children- the next generation. It’s easy to get comfortable in slavery and the wilderness of lack, so much so that even the attraction of liberty and plenty get lost in fear. At every point of change, God says, “Fear not.” In most cases He gives reason, “For I the Lord will be with you.” That’s where we find peace instead of fear. We may not know what’s next. We may not know how long we have to wait for God to move or answer. But if we know God is with us, that alone is sufficient to give us peace. In the story of the Israelites, God was involved in their deliverance from Egypt, in their journey in the wilderness, in their crossing the Jordan and in their settling in Canaan. At every step, the common factor was the presence and help of God.
The same is true for us. We may experience a multitude of change in life but if God is with us we can navigate change because we aren’t alone.
I don’t know what the future holds but 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.”
In spite of all that life brings, we don’t lose heart because we trust in the grace and love and power of God. If our peace and confidence is in anything else, our world can be shaken. If our trust is in God, then, even if our world is shaken we don’t lose hope for we know that God is with us and is directing our steps according to His will and plan. So we wait for Him in peace and confidence.
Dr. John Thompson