The last year has been a year of troubling times, no doubt. We’ve faced lots of changes. Elders have had to make many decisions about how to handle these difficult times within their congregations. But what I want to talk about today is how we as women, individual Christians, should handle troubling times.
In Job 14 Job certainly got it right when he said that man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. But we might also consider the other side of the coin. As one woman said, I’ve had a lot of trouble—most of which never happened.
Let’s begin our lesson where everything should begin—Faith. Faith is joyful trust conjoined with obedience. It is the belief that everything depends upon what Jesus says. There is no glory to God in what is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.
When Jesus says don’t let your heart be troubled, we must say, Yes Lord (John 14:1). When Paul says be anxious for nothing, we must say, Yes, God has this (Phil 4:6)! We must always remember that we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7).
I heard a story about Uncle Oscar. He was terribly afraid to fly in an airplane. When circumstances made it necessary, his friends couldn’t wait to ask him how it went. He said, It wasn’t too bad, but I tell you, I didn’t put all my weight down! I’m afraid that many of us are like Uncle Oscar. When it comes to the faith we have in our Lord, we may not be putting all our weight down!
What do fear and worry do to us? They make us cowards. They make us small. They paralyze us, confuse us, and overwhelm us. Too many of us are running around living hectic, scared little lives. Why? Because we are not living lives of faith. Yes, sometimes bad things happen in life. This is life, not heaven. You may look out the window expecting to see bluebirds singing and see buzzards instead, but Jesus said in John 16:33 that “in me you have peace. In this world you have tribulation but be of good cheer. I’ve overcome the world.” Remember what Jesus told Martha in Luke 10:41-42? “Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things but one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” We must believe that there is something else more important than fear or worry.
In Luke 8 in the parable of the sower, Jesus teaches us that the word is choked out of our lives by the cares of the world, riches, and pleasures of this life. This makes us unfruitful. What then should I be concerned with in this life?
- Souls—every person is a soul that will live forever somewhere! I must look at every one I meet as a soul that the Lord loves and wants to be saved. I must never become like the elder brother in the story of the prodigal son, the brother who was selfish and not happy over his saved brother.
- Shining—it is so easy to judge others and not focus on letting our lights shine. What kind of light are you? Are you a spotlight? Someone who lives for attention and keeps the light on self. Or are you a spark? Sparks don’t give off much light and burn out quickly, but they can start a blaze if they take the opportunity. Maybe you are a beacon, a light shining from a lighthouse that guides people home. A beacon lets those out in the storms know where the shoreline is, where the hazardous rocks are, and leads people to safety. Are you that kind of light for people, leading them to a better life in Christ? Or maybe you are a humble candle that begins to give off light as soon as it is lit and gives light to the whole house, as Jesus said.
- Serving—Did you ever notice what the apostles had just talked to Jesus about before He taught them to be servants? They wanted to know who would be the greatest in the kingdom. Not long after this conversation, Jesus showed them the humility of a servant by washing their feet (Matthew 20; John 13). If we will be like Jesus, we should be concerned with serving others.
- Study—we should always be concerned with studying God’s Word. We should be serious Bible students, immersing ourselves in reverent study of the teachings of Christ. I always ask this of every group of women I teach: what are you studying right now? If you are not studying, Satan is winning! We should be studying like a soldier on a mission, not a scholar on a sabbatical.
- Sacrifice—the rich man was only concerned with himself, never thinking of others, never sharing his abundance. God called him a fool. The rich young ruler went away sorrowfully because he loved his money. He was not rich toward God. It was a big problem in Jesus’s day and it remains a problem today too. It is difficult to learn sacrifice in our abundant nation, but we must have hearts that deny self, take up our cross and follow Jesus. (Luke 9:23)
In this troubled world we seek comfort. Where does your comfort come from? People of the world find it in drinking, drugs, lust, spending all their time at the gym, or any form of escapism. The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Cor 1:3-4 that God comforts us that we may be able to comfort those in any trouble by the comfort that we ourselves found in the comfort of God. We will be comforted by God when we remember that He is the strength of our lives, as King David said. Of whom shall I be afraid? (Psa 27:1) We will be comforted when we pray with thanksgiving for that brings peace (Phil 3:5-7).
In this troubled world we must have courage. We must concentrate on holiness, not happiness. We are set apart for a divine purpose. We only find fulfillment in Jesus Christ. We must make a covenant with God to do what is right. We must find what is right in His word and then pray for the strength to stand for that truth. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (I Cor 16:13). We will find strength when we stand on the scriptures and trust in the power of God (Matt 22:29).
We must stop listening to our own weak voices and listen to God’s voice of strength and comfort. We need to accept God’s will like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did when the king threatened to throw them in the fiery furnace. They said their God could deliver them, but if it be so or if not, either way they would not bow down to anyone but God! (Daniel 3:17-18) If we resist the devil, he will flee from us. (James 4:7) We must never forget that God is on our side. “I will fear no evil for thou art with me…”( Psa 23:4). Jesus promised, “I am with you always even unto the end of the world”( Matt 28:20).
Are you fearful in these troubling times? Embrace love. Love casts out fear ( I John 4:18). Keep your eyes on the Shepherd. He knows us, He knows our names, He will protect us. We can face life’s troubles because we are certain we are seen, we are known, and we are loved (John 10:27).
Take advantage of opportunities to show your faith and to be brave. Do ordinary things in an extraordinary way. Speak at a ladies day, say a prayer at a devotional, smile when you want to scream, put the baby in their own bed, pray for your enemy, if you haven’t touched your husband lately, reach out and take his hand, tell the hard truth to someone, make things right between you and someone who has ought against you, visit someone who is unfaithful, do the right thing even if it makes you weep!
The Lord does not want our hearts to be troubled. He wants us to find our comfort and courage in Him. He’s been saying to us since the beginning…trust Me…I’m going to provide everything you need Eve, trust me. I’m sending a flood, Noah, more rain than you’ve ever seen, just build the ark, trust me. Give me your son, Abraham. Trust me. Apply the blood, eat the meal. We’re going to deliver them, Moses. Trust me. Mary, you’re going to have a special baby. He’s going to save the world. Trust me. Disciples, some of you are going to die for me, but I need you to tell them about Me and my church. Trust me. And today Jesus is saying I know this world has gone crazy…just trust me.
-Debbie Kea, TBC Renew Guest Speaker for the 2021 Ladies’ Class Sessions