“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.~ 1 Timothy 6:6-7
This was a critical time in my life; the Lord moved me so that I might repent and return to Him. Three years prior, God graciously and merciful delivered me from 13 years of persecution which included severe mental, verbal and should have been fatal physical abuse. But by God’s providence, I am here...still...praising and trusting my Savior.
It seems logical that once the persecution stopped, I would be free to praise God with no distractions and would boldly march on as a soldier of Christ Jesus; grateful and pain free. But sin bears no resemblance to logic whatsoever and under the deception of my sinful flesh, I “reasoned” that I no longer needed God’s guidance. By age 17, I was convinced I had learned all I needed from the Lord and was prepared to chart my own course. With Stupidity and Arrogance as my companions, I dared to utter these words to the LORD God Almighty, “God, I can take it from here.” Never has more insane words come from human lips. What came out of my mouth revealed what had been festering in my heart for quite some time: fed up with being persecuted, ingratitude towards God’s deliverance, and arrogance that told me I deserved better and it was about time I was delivered!
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”~ Matthew 15:18-19
Very much like the Israelites during the days of the Judges, so are many of us today. When we are under persecution or any kind of distress, we pray, we cry aloud to God, we seek His face earnestly; trusting that in His perfect timing, He will deliver us from all the evil that is beating against us-- whether it be abuse, severe illness, oppression, intense work load, wayward and rebellious children, verbal and/or emotional attacks from people close to us. No matter the trial or heartache, when we are pressed, we are humble. We are grateful for every good God gives us, even if it’s only a short reprieve from our troubles, we are grateful to receive any amount of rest from our burdens. We know that it’s only by God’s infinite mercy and abounding grace that we receive even a glimpse of His glorious compassion (Psalm 103:13-14). And we are satisfied because we know that we deserve much worse than what has overcome us already. But when we are not careful to remain thankful to God in every and for every circumstance (1 Thess 5:18), we easily succumb to our arrogant flesh that has aligned itself with Satan to do his will and wage war against our spirit that has been made one with Christ.
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”~ Romans 7:21-25a
The times in my life I have been most afraid, are the times that I have been the least grateful, the least content, the least faithful and the least humble; but mostly, when I have been the least loving -- towards God and towards my fellow man. You see, fear sets it’s eye on self. And when we look within ourselves, we ought to be afraid because there is nothing there but evil, death and destruction. Then, when we take our ingrown eyeballs and look out to the world, more terror comes because now, all the world looks exactly the same as what we have seen within; on a larger scale! But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ who freed us from the eyes that were once sold under our old sin nature! We have been redeemed! We are no longer held captive by these temporal eyes! When we were made new and alive in Christ, we were given new hearts with new desires (Ezekiel 36:26-27, Eph 4:17-18, 22-24), and new eyes that can perceive all that is unseen; the eternal riches that God has in store for us (2 Cor 4:7-10, 16-18)!
When you’re struggling and tempted to give way to fear, remember this: a grateful and humble heart always trumps an arrogant and prideful one; and the love of God always dominates fear (1 John 4:18). When you fight to abide in Christ, fear will run from you.
“But may all who seek You
rejoice and be glad in You;
may those who love Your salvation
say continually, ‘Great is the LORD!’
As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God!”
~ Psalm 40:16-17