You may ask: “Doesn’t Jesus suffer when we mistrust Him? Doesn’t the Lord grieve when we waver and question His Word and His faithfulness?” Yes, yes, He absolutely does. But those who have failed in faith can still keep their eyes on Jesus.
Peter’s Faith Did Not Fail
And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.
When Jesus’ gaze met Peter’s, the apostle broke and wept. How patient is our Lord, how merciful. He hears all our murmuring and questioning, He sees so many doubtful thoughts in our minds-yet He looks upon us with forgiveness and compassion.
Peter was restored and lived out a great life of faith. Remember, Jesus had given him this word of encouragement at Passover: “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32). This is the Lord’s Word for you and for me as well. He tells us just as He told Peter, “Keep your eyes on Me. You are going to come through this. And you’re going to help your brothers and sisters in My house.”
Later, in the book of Acts, we find Peter locked up in an inner prison. An angel comes to him, shakes off his chains, and tells him to get up and leave. At that point, Peter never looks at the impossibilities around him: the iron gates he had to go through, the many guards and soldiers he had to pass by at his own peril. Instead, Peter rises in faith at the angel’s instruction, and when he comes to the iron gates, they open of their own accord.
So it will be for you, dear saint, if you are willing to get up and move on in faith.
I have been reading many letters from saints who face seeming impossibilities. A grandmother writes of her grief over the murder of her precious granddaughter. The young woman was killed by her estranged boyfriend, who then killed himself. This grandmother is overwhelmed with grief. She closes her letter with a plea: “Is there a word from God for us? Please help.”
A woman who describes herself as “strong in faith” wrote the following:
I was married for twenty-five years to a wonderful man who died from diabetes five years ago. I married again later, but during the honeymoon my new husband tripped and fell, resulting in a fractured neck. He was healing, but complications set in, with infection and blood clots. Within a month, he died. I am shaken. I don’t understand how such a thing could happen.
An eighty-year-old pastor writes that his wife lives in constant pain from many surgeries. Her pain is so intense she can hardly sleep, but doctors say they can’t help her. The pastor closes his letter, “I feel like a battered warrior.”
I do have a special word for all who face impossibilities:
1. A recovery of faith depends on a fuller revelation of the love of our heavenly Father toward us.
“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). Here is a glorious revelation of the steadfastness of God’s love for His people. Scripture tells us He rests and rejoices in His love for us!
The Hebrew word for “rest” here means God hasn’t a single question concerning His love for us. In other words, He has fixed, or settled, His love for us, and He will never take it away. In fact, we’re told God is so satisfied in His love for us that He sings about it.
Can you imagine this? Here is a manifestation in heaven of God’s delight over you. John Owen interprets the passage this way: “God leaps, as overcome with joy.”
Moreover, Paul tells us, everything that is out of divine order-all that is of unbelief and confusion-is changed by the appearance of God’s love. “After that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared” (Titus 3:4).
In the preceding verse, Paul says, “We ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived” (Titus 3:3). In other words: “Everything was out of order. Our faith was not an overcoming one. But the kindness and love of God appeared, which the Father shed on us abundantly through Christ.”
When Paul says the love of God “appeared,” he uses a word from a Greek root meaning “superimposed.” In short, the Lord looked down on us poor, struggling souls, full of fear and questioning, and He superimposed this revelation: “My love will deliver you. Rest and delight in My love for you.”
I thank God for the day His love “appeared” to me. There is no faith that can stand against impossibilities unless everything-every problem, every affliction-is committed into the loving care of our Father. When my situations are at their worst, I must rest in simple faith.
I may not see the evidence, but God is at work. Every moment of the day, every hour I sleep, He is making a way for me. And His plan is right on schedule, at all times. What seems to me a delay is His holy work. He is getting at things deep down in me that must be settled so that He can fulfill His promises.
One day, I will look back at these trying times and say, “Lord, now I see. You were there all the time, working my miracle!”
2. Never, ever quit praying and crying out to the Lord.
Those who are in despair may be tempted to shut themselves out of communion with God. Yet doing so can be fatal. In Psalm 88, you may find a description of what you are going through. A godly man named Heman tells of his hopeless situation:
My soul is full of trouble. I have been brought down to the pit, and I am among the dead. God has laid me in the lowest pit in darkness, and his wrath lies hard on me. My friends have forsaken me; I am shut up, closed in. I mourn because of my affliction” (my paraphrase). Heman then challenges God: “Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise thee? Shall thy loving kindness be declared in the grave? Or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? And thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
Heman is saying, in effect, “I need a miracle now, Lord, not at the Resurrection. This is my last hope. Soon it will be too late, because I’ll be dead. You face a deadline here, God. Help me, or it’s too late. Why are You casting me off? Why do You hide Your face from me? Why don’t You answer my cries?”
This is hopelessness and despair, an apparently impossible crisis.
What can a godly soul do? How does a righteous soul react? Like Heman, we are to cry night and day: “O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before Thee. Let my prayer come before Thee: incline Thine ear unto my cry. Unto Thee have I cried, O Lord; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent Thee” (Psalm 88:1-2, 13).
Here are three things I do in my times of great affliction:
1. I receive and believe in the love and delight of my heavenly Father.
2. I pour out my heart before Him, crying to Him in silence.
3. I encourage my soul with His promises daily.
Our faith and strength may grow weak. But in our times of weakness, God has given us marvelous promises to renew and strengthen us. Here are some of His promises that sustain me:
• “God is my strength and power: and He maketh my way perfect. He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters; He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me. He is a buckler [protector] to all them that trust in Him” (2 Samuel 22:33, 17, 18, 31).
• “Thou hast girded me with strength to battle” (2 Samuel 22:40).
• “They that stumbled are girded with strength” (1 Samuel 2:4).
• “The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11).
• “The God of Israel is He that giveth strength and power unto His people. Blessed be God” (Psalm 68:35).
• “Forsake me not when my strength faileth.... I will go in the strength of the Lord God” (Psalm 71:9, 16).
• “Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee... They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God” (Psalm 84:5, 7).
Do you believe your God is strong, as the Psalmist declares? If He is, no power can stand before Him.
Commit everything into His mighty hand of strength. He will make a way. Most of all, believe His Word: “In the day when I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3).
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