During these trying days it is quite easy for people to succumb to fear and anxiety. For those that are presently without work, perhaps it is the fear of financial-loss, for those that are alone, perhaps it is the fear of loneliness, for some it is the fear of getting sick, and for those that are sick, perhaps it is the fear losing their lives. Each of these fears, and a myriad of others, can be debilitating. The only effective way to combat them is through faith in the risen savior. Only through genuine belief in Christ is there hope for the hopeless. For those who are in Christ, we have the hope of resurrection, the hope of restoration, and the hope of eternal life. For those who are in Christ, we have the Word of God, and the Word of God is a bright and shining lamp allowing us to navigate the darkness of the world. God’s Word is a treasure-trove of truth that brings comfort to those who are consumed by fear.
I once heard it said that fear is to the devil, what worship is to God. Which is to say that the devil is most pleased when we are living in fear. 1 Peter 5:6-9 states:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
Fear is a tool of the enemy, which is to say that it does not come from God. God’s Word has a lot to say about fear:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
2 Timothy 1:7
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
1 John 4:18
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
The only effective way to combat the enemy's efforts to keep God’s children in fear is to go to God’s Word for instruction and guidance. So what does God’s Word say about combating the works of Satan? I am glad you asked. Ephesians 6:10-18 states:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints”
We are to be clad with the armor of God. To wield the Word like a warrior wields a two-edged sword. To hold fast to the salvation we have in Christ Jesus. To pray to God in all circumstances.
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The peace of God comes to those who, by faith in Christ, have peace with God. The joy of God is a disposition of which the follower of Christ is to walk in. If today you are experiencing debilitating effects of fear, wash away your fears with the authority of God’s Word and walk in the joy of the Lord. We must remember that the trials we face are a means of testing our faith, and are meant to strengthen our trust in the Lord. As we are comforted by the Lord we then are able to comfort others with the same comfort with which we have been comforted.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
May we all lean into the Word of God and find the comfort to extinguish the fear that the world is promoting.
For as long as we can tell, people have been plagued with the question, why does evil, suffering, pain, sickness, and death exist in the world? This very question is the so-called reason why many insist that the God of the Bible does not exist. Many ponder the question if God exists then why does He not prevent and prohibit all of the seemingly horrendous things that take place day in and day out? Many well-intentioned Christians have sought to answer this question by stating, that evil exists because we live in a fallen and sinful world. While this answer is both true and a seemingly sufficient response to the question, skeptics will still bark back with an argument that goes something like:
A God that allows suffering to continue is either a) not all-powerful and therefore is unable to prevent the suffering; b) not loving because this God has the power to prevent suffering but is unwilling to do so; and/or c) not all-knowing because God only is aware of the suffering after it has already happened and therefore cannot prevent it from taking place.
Christians know full-well that God is loving, for He has sent His Son into the to the world to die so that sinners would be restored unto Him; that He is all-powerful, for He created the universe by speaking it into existence and He presently holds it all together; and that He is all-knowing, for He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, and absolutely nothing is outside of His knowing. So if God is all-powerful, loving, and all-knowing, how do we answer the question concerning the existence of suffering in this world?
Again, suffering exists because of mankind’s sinful rebellion against God. There are consequences for evil behavior, and we all ought to be relieved that due to God’s love He did not determine to utterly destroy His creation at the fall. It would do us well to understand that Mankind is deserving of nothing less than to be sentenced to hell for all eternity. Asking why evil, suffering, pain, sickness, and death exist is not the proper question that we should be concerned with. Instead, we should marvel at the tremendous mercy and grace of God who has not only allowed us to go on living but has sent His Son to bear the punishment that we so richly deserve; while at the same time clothing sinners in His righteousness. It is obvious why suffering and pain exist, our rebellious hearts have brought such calamity upon ourselves. But God being rich in mercy has graciously lavished upon us that which we could never earn, salvation and restoration to our Great God and Savior. So suffering is a result of sin, but it is not as though God does not use our suffering to produce something marvelous. Romans 8:28 declares, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Does this mean that suffering will not befall those who love God? Not at all. But instead, it implies that everything which transpires in the life of a believer, suffering included, is a tool in God’s hands to produce that which is good.
Some of you may be thinking, wait a minute….how can you say that?! How can suffering, sickness, and death produce that which is good? The Word of God declares in James 1:2, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” Suffering, sickness, and death certainly are trials of various kinds that people face while alive here on earth, and James tells us that we are to count those things a joyous occasion in our life. To which you may find yourself responding by thinking, “what?! How can such seemingly disastrous events be considered joyous?!” If we continue reading, James tells us exactly how they are joyous. He states in verses 3-4, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” In essence, trials are a great way to test how genuine our faith in God is. If we truly view Christ as our rock, our fortress, our greatest treasure, our joy, our peace, our deepest delight, and our anchor amidst the most tumultuous of storms, then the trials we face will aid us in activating our faith more readily and drive us into the arms of our great savior. Trials produce steadfastness, which is to say persistent patience and enduring reliance upon the rock of our salvation, Christ Jesus our Lord. It is for this reason that trials ought to be viewed as a good thing, rather than a hindrance to a life in pursuit of happiness. God ought to be our greatest joy in life and trials force us, if our faith is true, to fall before the throne of grace and cling to the gracious God that pulled us up out of the pit. Trials, again, serve to test our claims that Christ is our greatest treasure. For a trial, like that of being diagnosed with cancer, losing a loved one, or any number of life-altering events, will allow for you to either exercise your faith in the risen savior who purchased your life with His blood, or it will allow you to demonstrate just the opposite. Now, this is not to say that it is always easy to rest in Christ and count it all joy when in the midst of a trying and tumultuous time. However, if we belong to Christ, we will inevitably cling to Him as our only true source of joy and comfort amidst the chaos. If you have never read the book of Job I highly recommend that you do, for this book reveals that God not only preserves His people through the most disastrous of times but that He permits such trials to take place as a means of teaching us to trust in His sovereignty. Job learns an incredibly valuable lesson at the end of the book, and for those who have not read it, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Please go read it and see how Job’s life is drastically changed for the better after having faced more trials than most could bear. It is an excellent book, and as one who has recently traversed a series of difficult trials myself, it helps me to remember that in comparison my trials are minimal. Again, trials which may come in the form of suffering, sickness, pain, and death, ultimately serve to draw us ever closer to our great God and Savior. The greatest reward for the one who remains steadfast in this life is that of eternal glory in the presence of God almighty. As James states in the twelfth verse of the first chapter in his epistle:
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
So as the title of the short blog post states, the best way to traverse the many difficult trials of this life is not through denying God’s existence, but through having a heart fully surrendered to Him and His Holy Word.
Pastor Justin Myers is an avid student of God's Holy Word and received his M.Div. in biblical studies from Liberty University School of Divinity. Pastor Justin considers himself a family man who loves his wife and children dearly. He has been married for over eight years and has three children.