On Jan. 1, just days ago as I write this, this was the thought I preached on from Hebrews 13:5-6. Those who were present or watched online heard the explanation of why every Jesus-follower should adopt this mindset because of Jesus’ promise to “never leave you or abandon you.” The writer of Hebrews then went on to say that because of the reality of Jesus’ constant presence, “we may boldly say,” what David said in Psalm 118, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
There are times when God puts me to the test to see if I mean what I preach. That Sunday night I developed a fever and congestion and tested positive for COVID. That was NOT what I had planned for this first week of 2023!
Then I came across a Facebook memory when I had an unexpected and disruptive cold the first week of 2016. I can also recall, without the aid of Facebook, multiple times when I had pneumonia in the first week of a new year, at least once when I ended up in the hospital with it. I believe that those situations and many other disruptions in my life are an opportunity for me to be reminded and recommit to my faith that God is in control, not me. And that He is present with me with just the same love, grace, power, and provision as any other time in my life.
I confess, it isn’t always my first reaction; perhaps that’s why the Lord continues to remind me of what I truly believe.
So, I’m not saying that we ignore or minimize all the uncomfortable, unpleasant and unwanted things in our lives. Nor that we should be harsh and uncaring to those who are really struggling in life. Just the opposite. As Jesus-followers you and I are representatives of Jesus 24/7 and never did He scold someone to “just get over it” – no, He had compassion for the poor and needy, the sick and infirm, the lost and wandering, seeing them like sheep without a shepherd. And He offered them healing, help, and forgiveness.
As Jesus-followers we are freed to serve people as Jesus served. In His strength and with His resources we offer hope and help to the people in our lives that are struggling with the “cares and worries of this world.”
But that begins when we, as Jesus-followers truly believe that Jesus is and does everything He has promised. That He WILL never leave us or forsake us. That there IS nothing He can’t do. And that He would never withhold good things from His children.
I know first-hand that uncomfortable, unpleasant, and unwanted things still happen to those of us who are following Jesus. God may still allow difficult things into our lives but He never abandons us in them. You and I have the opportunity to re-affirm our faith and trust in Him when hardships come our way. It helps me to remember what Dr. Jim Dennison wrote just last week, “The worst that can happen to us leads to the best that can happen to us.” Refocus on the onerous things in life as opportunities to reinforce your faith in the God who is committed to you.