By Dr. Anne Davis
This is a time of great unrest in our country that is affecting all of us no matter what our political views may be. It seems that we desire a return to some sense of civility, to a quieter time, to more effective governance, and less attention to those who foster violence.
Unfortunately, I suggest that the destructive division in our country will continue for some time until socio-economic changes end and we settle into a new world order. This process is nothing new. Consider the Renaissance and Reformation of the 15th and 16th centuries, and then the more recent Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries. Perhaps our current state of affairs can be called the Communication Revolution that is affecting what we hear and how we receive it.
However, here is the good news. The world around us may be in chaos but there is another world surrounding us that is spiritual. So, we live in two worlds. It is possible to experience and live in the spiritual world if we know how and if we allow ourselves to enter it.
The biblical secret of responding to times of trouble and suffering is complete trust in the Lord and having confidence that He is in charge of whatever is happening. When you enter that realm of complete trust, you will experience incredible peace knowing in your heart that God is in charge. I have been there, and I continue to work to remain in that realm of spiritual peace.
The Bible often instructs us through stories because, when we can feel and experience what is happening, our learning curve penetrates deeper than our minds. These narratives portray a stark contrast between trusting in the world versus putting our complete trust in the Lord. The key word is “complete” which makes the concept of trust quite a challenge. In a way, it’s like stepping off a steep cliff and trusting that what will happen is the Lord’s will. So, we may think we are trusting in the Lord, but if there is even a tiny residual nervousness about the world around us, that trust is not complete.
God’s Word helps us understand the power of trusting God by relating narratives from Israel’s early history. Let me share with you some of these stories.
Laish was a powerful walled city controlled by the Canaanites when Joshua led the people of Israel into the Promised Land. The Bible tells us that the people of Laish were living in security, quiet and secure because there was no ruler humiliating them, and they were far from their enemies and had no dealings with anyone (Judges 18:7). Yet, God spoke to His people through a prophet and told them to take the city. The men of Israel trusted in the Lord. Despite the overwhelming power of the enemy, we learn that they “came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure, and struck them with the edge of the sword; and they burned the city with fire” (Judges 18:27).
There are two messages in this story. First, are you like the people of Laish who felt quiet and secure? When we compare our lives today with those in the third world, who live in hunger and fear for their lives, we must admit we are truly blessed. But does that sense of security hinder us from truly trusting in the Lord when difficult events confront us?
Second, despite living through troubling times, do you trust God that He is the One in charge and whatever is happening is in His control? God allows us to experience pain and suffering, but there is always a reason and a light at the end of the tunnel for those who trust in Him. God asks us to stand for Him by demonstrating in our lives His righteous and moral principles. He urges us to resist any temptation to respond in a worldly way with fear and uncertainty.
Let me share with you another biblical story. Leaders of the Assyrian army taunted Hezekiah, the king of Judah who resided in Jerusalem, and his people, who felt secure in their walled city. “On what is your confidence” [בָּטַח batach a Hebrew verb meaning ‘trust’], they demanded. “On whom do you rely” [בָּטַח same Hebrew word repeated for emphasis]. This same question can be asked of you today. On whom are you trusting and in whom are you placing your confidence?
Hezekiah is presented in the Bible as a prophetic forerunner of Yeshua the Messiah, and Hezekiah’s trust in the Lord alone led to the rescue of his people. Listen to God’s response to Hezekiah’s complete trust in Him.
“I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.” Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead. 2 Kings 19:34-35
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately depending on how you look at it), we can no longer rely on a man of God to do the work of trusting God for us. Why? Because God has sent Yeshua to be our mentor, and the gift of His Holy Spirit to guide us. So, what does that mean for us today? We must become active participants!! To do this, we must submit to Yeshua as our Lord, which means growing in humble submission to be like him, and we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in the ways of righteousness.
To what extent are your daily thoughts and activities righteous in the eyes of the Lord? No one is perfect but take a close look to see how you can improve. To what extent are you led spiritually in the ways of righteousness? Are you guided by the Spirit when you respond to times of trouble in your life?
May the Lord help you grow in your complete trust that God is in charge, and that your response will be to stand for Him by demonstrating that your life exhibits moral righteousness.
Dr. Anne Davis is a professor of Biblical Studies who enjoys working with graduate students to enhance their exegetical skills for exploring the depth of Scripture.
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