I do not ask that He must prove
His Word is true to me,
And that before I can believe
He first must let me see.
It is enough for me to know
’tis true because He says ’tis so;
On His unchanging Word I’ll stand
And trust till I can understand.
— E. M. Winter
… and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land. – Acts 27:44 (NKJV)
As the ship faced the wrath of tempestuous head wind, Euroclydon, everyone in the ship lost their hope. It had been nearly two weeks since they saw sun or even a star, and they had no idea where they were. Amidst all those who had lost hope, Paul stood like a light shining in the dark, and declared that they all would be saved; not one man would lose his life. And he proclaimed, “I believe in God, and it shall be even as it was told me.” (Acts 27:25)
The Word came from God and it was believed by the man of God, and soon it came to fruition. Except not in the way we would describe as the majestic manner in which God delivers those who trust Him. The Bible says that some of them held on to boards and others to broken pieces from the ship and escaped.
How often in our life we have faced such circumstances? We were in a very tiring situation and the Lord gives His Word to us. That He would deliver us from evil. That He would not let us be ashamed because we put our trust in Him. That before the eyes of our enemies, He would exalt us, and show to them that He is with us and He loves us. And we are jubilant, waiting for that moment of great glory to come, where the Lord in His majesty, comes down from the Heavens, lifts us from our troubles and anoints us before our enemies.
But nothing of that sort happens. As we are waiting for the mighty arm of the Lord to appear, we see some wooden boards, some broken pieces passing by. Of course, we could take hold of them and reach land safely. But did not the Lord promise great things? Nah, these broken pieces and boards are for mere mortals. Not for the righteous who lives by faith. I will not use such mundane means to escape; no, no, I have suffered so much to escape in such a whimpering fashion. Let those broken pieces and boards pass. See the salvation of God. I wait. I wait. I am waiting. I am still waiting. I am wondering why God has not delivered me yet. Now, I am waiting, but confused. I am waiting, but my faith is shaken. A little. Okay, a lot. Now, there are doubts in my heart. Did I misunderstand what the Lord told me? Or did God lie to me? No, no, He does not lie. Have I lost something in the translation? I am wondering.
But as I wait with tired eyes, all I see are more boards and broken pieces. And a still voice telling my heart, “This is the way out. Grab it.” But I refuse. It cannot be the voice of the Almighty. It has to be the devil, trying to deceive me. I know that the Lord will deliver me in a spectacular fashion. That will shut the mouths of all my enemies. That will vindicate all my silent suffering.
Yet, all I see is more and more boards and broken pieces of wood, and that voice still telling me, “Grab it. Don’t ignore the little things that God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided you.” Now slowly, I realize that it is the Spirit of God talking to me. But, then, what about all the promises? Yes, they are still there, safe in Christ Jesus. They are “Yes” and “Amen” in my Savior and Redeemer. Then how come I have to be delivered in such a prosaic manner?
Then the Lord teaches me that lesson I must have learned long back. My faith must never feed my ego. My faith must make me humble. My faith must not fill me with pride. All those spectacular escapes I was dreaming about, those were to satisfy my ego, not for the glory of my Father. I was waiting for them, because my pride wanted such a great show for me, not for the Son of God Who loved and gave His life for me.
Oh, somewhere along being filled with faith, I have fallen prey to the oldest sin – pride. The broken pieces of ship represent what I have to be. The ship, though majestic and grand, could not take me to the land safely. But when it is broken into pieces, one of the smallest pieces is all God needs to fulfil His promise for me, and it will take me home safely.
When I am full of myself, like that ship, I may falter in reaching the destination. But when I am broken, tossed around by the wind and the waves, I know that I will reach the shore safely; and I will also help someone else to reach safely, by just hanging on to me.
Oh Lord, break me into broken pieces, so that my pride sinks in this sea. Break me, so that I can learn humility. Break me, so that You can fulfil Your promise and Your Name alone be glorified. In Jesus’s Name, I ask, Amen.
I waited patiently for the Lord. – Psalm 40:1 (NKJV)
Waiting patiently for the Lord seems to be a total failure at times. You are compelled by the Lord to stand still. You remember your calling; you are called to do great things for Him, and initially you are busy with so many things. Yes, trials, tribulations, afflictions and suffering – all are present, but none of that matters, because you are doing great work for the Lord, and then suddenly there is an enforced inaction.
Initially, you are not even sure if it is the will of God. As you attempt to do few things, all of them end up as failures and in disappointment. Slowly, as you see the hand of the Lord behind your standing still, initially there is a joy as you realize it is God Who is asking you to stand still, and there you are, standing still, like the sun over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon (Joshua 10:12-13).
Then you realize though your sun and moon are standing still, the earth is still rotating, and everyone’s life keeps going. They come to you often, complain about the various things happening in their life, but at least things are happening in their life. Though they are struggling, and are afflicted in every side, at least they are moving forward. For you, though, there has been no movement forward for so long. You are there, waiting patiently for the Lord.
And, you already know that, it is thousand times harder to stand still for the Lord, than being active in the work of the Lord amid the day-to-day’s troubles. It may look like a failure as the life moves on for others, but dear friend, this is one of the truest tests of your faith. To stand still, waiting for the Lord, without losing hope and losing your heart, to give up the work and honor to others, to be quiet, rejoicing in the promises of the Lord requires greater faith, especially when those busy multitude go ahead and go away. But you are chosen, by God, to stand still and see His salvation.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. – Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)
And the stops also. – George Mueller, in the margin of Psalm 37:23
Have you ever waited for the Lord? If you have, you will attest that waiting for the Lord is much more difficult than walking in the wilderness. Waiting needs patience and an absolute faith in God. Being active for the Lord needs faith, but waiting for the Lord needs faith with perfect patience. If you don’t believe me, ask Noah.
The toughest days of Noah were not when he was building the Ark. Yes, he would have been ridiculed by everyone. They would have mocked him. Even his great grandfather who was alive just a year before the Flood, that grand daddy of all, Methuselah, would have been wondering, “But what is a rain?” Nevertheless, in his faith, Noah was also busy working for the Lord. But his toughest days would have been those 7 days he was locked inside the Ark, with his family and all those living beings, without an inkling of rain. How hard it must be, shut inside by the Lord Himself, with no rain, and everyone making fun of him, and he was shut. It needs faith and absolute faith in God and His Word, and it needs perfect patience.
When the Lord builds a hedge around us, initially we are happy, because we know the purpose – to keep our enemies away from us. We rejoice in the Lord, knowing that this hedge is impenetrable. As the hedge grows higher, we magnify the Lord for this great fence He is building around us, that no enemy can breach. Then suddenly one day we realize that the hedge has gone so high, that we cannot see the other side. We do not hear the growling of our enemies anymore; if at all, we hear only their whimpers in being defeated. And, we want to see our enemies whining and whimpering; we want to get out and celebrate. Only then we realize, that those hedges are meant for our protection, but also to keep us inside.
But how can I be of any service to the Lord in such a small place, we wonder? How will the Name of the Lord be glorified if I do not have a larger audience, a larger environment, where I can proclaim the Majesty of His Name – Jesus, and His glory? Didn’t God call me for a greater purpose than being held up in this hedge, I wonder aloud.
The Bible says that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. And in his Bible, George Mueller had written in the margin “And the stops also.” Yes, dear friend, just like our walks are ordered by the Lord, our holdups are also ordered by the Lord. Just like our ways have a greater purpose, our stops also have a higher purpose. If our calling builds our faith, our holdups strengthen our faith and make our patience perfect.
If the Lord has built a hedge around us, let us not try to break through them. Let us focus our eyes on Jesus, and the Pillar of the Cloud will move at the right moment, and then let us follow Him to our destiny. Amen.
“We trusted” (Luke 24:21).
I have always felt so sorry that in that walk to Emmaus the disciples had not said to Jesus, “We still trust”; instead of “We trusted.” That is so sad– something that is all over.
If they had only said, “Everything is against our hope; it looks as if our trust was vain, but we do not give up; we believe we shall see Him again.” But no, they walked by His side declaring their lost faith, and He had to say to them “O fools, and slow of heart to believe!”
Are we not in the same danger of having these words said to us? We can afford to lose anything and everything if we do not lose our faith in the God of truth and love.
Let us never put our faith, as these disciples did, in a past tense—“We trusted.” But let us ever say, “I am trusting.” — Crumbs
And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me” (John 11:41).
This is a very strange and unusual order. Lazarus is still in the grave, and the thanksgiving precedes the miracle of resurrection. I thought that the thanksgiving would have risen when the great deed had been wrought, and Lazarus was restored to life again. But Jesus gives thanks for what He is about to receive. The gratitude breaks forth before the bounty has arrived, in the assurance that it is certainly on the way. The song of victory is sung before the battle has been fought. It is the sower who is singing the song of the harvest home. It is thanksgiving before the miracle!
Who thinks of announcing a victory-psalm when the crusaders are just starting out for the field? Where can we hear the grateful song for the answer which has not yet been received? And after all, there is nothing strange or forced, or unreasonable in the Master’s order. Praise is really the most vital preparatory ministry to the working of the miracles. Miracles are wrought by spiritual power. Spiritual power is always proportioned to our faith.– Dr. Jowett
There is a prevalent idea that the power of God in a human life should lift us above all trials and conflicts. The fact is, the power of God always brings a conflict and a struggle. One would have thought that on his great missionary journey to Rome, Paul would have been carried by some mighty providence above the power of storms and tempests and enemies. But, on the contrary, it was one long, hard fight with persecuting Jews, with wild tempests, with venomous vipers and all the powers of earth and hell, and at last he was saved, as it seemed, by the narrowest margin, and had to swim ashore at Malta on a piece of wreckage and barely escape a watery grave.
Was that like a God of infinite power? Yes, just like Him. And so Paul tells us that when he took the Lord Jesus Christ as the life of his body, a severe conflict immediately came; indeed, a conflict that never ended, a pressure that was persistent, but out of which he always emerged victorious through the strength of Jesus Christ.
The language in which he describes this is most graphic. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be manifested in our body.”
What a ceaseless, strenuous struggle! It is impossible to express in English the forcible language of the original. There are five pictures in succession. In the first, the idea is crowding enemies pressing in from every side, and yet not crushing him because the police of heaven cleared the way just wide enough for him to get through. The literal translation would be, “We are crowded on every side, but not crushed.”
The second picture is that of one whose way seems utterly closed and yet he has pressed through; there is light enough to show him the next step. The Revised Version translates it, “Perplexed but not unto despair.” Rotherham still more literally renders it, “Without a way, but not without a by-way.”
The third figure is that of an enemy in hot pursuit while the divine Defender still stands by, and he is not left alone. Again we adopt the fine rendering of Rotherham, “Pursued but not abandoned.”
The fourth figure is still more vivid and dramatic. The enemy has overtaken him, has struck him, has knocked him down. But it is not a fatal blow; he is able to rise again. It might be translated, “Overthrown but not overcome.”
Once more the figure advances, and now it seems to be even death itself, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” But he does not die, for “the life also of Jesus” now comes to his aid and he lives in the life of another until his life work is done.
The reason so many fail in this experience of divine healing is because they expect to have it all without a struggle, and when the conflict comes and the battle wages long, they become discouraged and surrender. God has nothing worth having that is easy. There are no cheap goods in the heavenly market. Our redemption cost all that God had to give, and everything worth having is expensive. Hard places are the very school of faith and character, and if we are to rise over mere human strength and prove the power of life divine in these mortal bodies, it must be through a process of conflict that may well be called the birth travail of a new life. It is the old figure of the bush that burned, but was not consumed, or of the Vision in the house of the Interpreter of the flame that would not expire, notwithstanding the fact that the demon ceaselessly poured water on it, because in the background stood an angel ever pouring oil and keeping the flame aglow.
No, dear suffering child of God, you cannot fail if only you dare to believe, to stand fast and refuse to be overcome.
– From “Streams in the Desert”
“There we saw the giants” (Numbers13:33).
Yes, they saw the giants, but Caleb and Joshua saw God! Those who doubt say, “We be not able to go up.” Those who believe say, “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able.”
Giants stand for great difficulties; and giants are stalking everywhere. They are in our families, in our churches, in our social life, in our own hearts; and we must overcome them or they will eat us up, as these men of old said of the giants of Canaan.
The men of faith said, “They are bread for us; we will eat them up.” In other words, “We will be stronger by overcoming them than if there had been no giants to overcome.”
Now the fact is, unless we have the overcoming faith we shall be eaten up, consumed by the giants in our path. Let us have the spirit of faith that these men of faith had, and see God, and He will take care of the difficulties.
– From “Streams in the Desert” Devotionals
Then believed they His words; they sang His praise. They soon forgot His works; they waited not for His counsel; but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul (Psalms 106:12-15).
We read of Moses, that “he endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible.” Exactly the opposite was true of the children of Israel in this record. They endured only when the circumstances were favourable; they were largely governed by the things that appealed to their senses, in place of resting in the invisible and eternal God.
In the present day there are those who live intermittent Christian lives because they have become occupied with the outward, and centre in circumstances, in place of centring in God. God wants us more and more to see Him in everything, and to call nothing small if it bears us His message.
Here we read of the children of Israel, “Then they believed his words.” They did not believe till after they saw– when they saw Him work, then they believed. They really doubted God when they came to the Red Sea; but when God opened the way and led them across and they saw Pharaoh and his host drowned—“then they believed.”
They led an up and down life because of this kind of faith; it was a faith that depended upon circumstances. This is not the kind of faith God wants us to have.
The world says “seeing is believing,” but God wants us to believe in order to see. The Psalmist said, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Do you believe God only when the circumstances are favourable, or do you believe no matter what the circumstances may be? — C. H. P.