Hebrews 13:5; John 14:15-29; Matt. 6:25-34
Many Christians struggle with how God is at work in the world — why do prayers go unanswered, how can a good and loving God allow some of the horrible things that happen, is God really at work in our lives? And I don’t know how to answer those questions, because I ask them, too. What I do know is that the world is not as it is meant to be and I believe that in his time God will right the wrongs. In the meantime, I have seen how he is at work, at least in my life. I’ve experienced some long dry spells in my faith, times when I didn’t really feel God’s presence, though I continued to go to church and tried to be faithful. I didn’t see a lot of answer to prayer — at least not the answers I wanted. I struggled with depression and feelings of worthlessness. But I can see now how God was at work, teaching me and molding me and I was never left alone. I think my experience helps me understand when other people are going through such times, and maybe I can be an encouragement.
This is my testimony: God does not leave you alone. It’s not only my testimony, it’s a promise. The writer of Hebrews says: Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5 ESV) Jesus comforted his disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit (John 14: 15-29). Along with the promise of a helper Jesus promised he would give us peace, though not as the world gives.
As I’ve learned to understand these promises I’ve realized that God probably won’t give me everything I want, and he probably won’t take away all my problems, and he allows me to suffer the consequences of my sin, but he is there. Part of learning that involves learning to trust God, to give him my burdens and quit trying to carry them on my own. All my worries about money, my fears of failure, my struggles with obedience and self-discipline, my self-righteous and judgmental nature — I can’t deal with any of these things on my own. But now I understand I don’t have to. Jesus’ teaching in Matt. 6:25-34 reminds me not to be anxious. This has helped me to see the blessings in each day and to be thankful. It’s helped me to develop a better perspective.
God told the ancient Israelites to pile up rocks at places where he had done something significant. That way, when they were walking along with their children and the kids would ask, “What’s that pile of rocks for?” the fathers could say, “This is where God brought us through the Jordan River on dry land,” or “This where God gave us the victory.” These places are called ebenezers (that’s what the word refers to in the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” — it says “here I raise my ebenezer”). I haven’t piled up stones around town or at every place along US 36 where I’ve had car trouble and the right person came along to help, but in my memory I can look back and see the places where God was at work, even if I didn’t recognize it at the time.
And now, when I feel discouraged or anxious, I know where to turn and it doesn’t take me so long to do it. I know I can trust God to be at work and that whatever the circumstances, I am not alone.