Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. - Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP
On October 26, 2018, at 5 A.M. a knock at my front door startled me out of my sleep. The knock wasn’t from a friend or a neighbor, it was from the police. I was only a few hours away from boarding a plane, traveling to Costa Rica, and celebrating my 33rd birthday. Instead, I found myself in jail, in distress, and in pain. Trouble knocked at my door that morning, and I answered it. When I say I answered it, what I mean is I tried to resolve and make sense of what was happening to me without going to God first.
What trouble has knocked at your door that you answered? Maybe it was a layoff you were not expecting, a disappointing medical report, collection notice, eviction, separation, or unexpected death. Oftentimes, when we find ourselves in a situation that we never imagined we would be in - we try to take care of it on our own. Instead of trusting God, we look for solutions in people, money, material goods, and self-sabotaging behaviors.
There are some things that people, money, drugs, sex, etc. cannot fix or heal. For those things, you need God. I know I did. Money got me out of jail and got me a lawyer, but it could not give me my freedom - only God could do that. Freedom, not in the form of deliverance from my troubles, but in knowing that regardless of my situation and circumstances that God is fighting for me (Exodus 14:14). And if God is fighting for us, what troubles can stand against us (Romans 8:31)?
Set-up by God
So, when trouble knocks at your door, let God answer it. You should let God answer it because He is the one who invited it. If you do not believe God invites trouble, just look at the story of Job:
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil… One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” - Job 1:1, 6-8 NIV
God asked Satan “where have you come from?” and Satan answered from roaming the earth. We know from 1 Peter 5:8, that the devil roams the earth like a roaring lion, looking for someone to attack. Now God, being completely unprovoked, offers Job to Satan for him to attack. Why would God invite Satan to attack Job, a good man who was blameless, honest, and upright? Because God uses our trials to strengthen, purify, and sanctify us.
God knows what He put within you and what you can withstand. He knows that though you may stumble, you will not be overwhelmed, because He is holding your hand (Psalm 37:24). Therefore, do not try to fix every problem, respond to every situation, or lose sleep worrying about how you are going to survive the attack of the enemy. Instead, place your faith in God, seek Him vigorously, hold on to His unchanging hand, and watch as He deliberately makes everything beautiful at the right time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
“The seeds that fell on rocky ground stand for those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But it does not sink deep into them; they believe only for a while but when the time of testing comes, they fall away.” – Luke 8:13 GNT
Our faith must be constantly renewed, protected, and managed. If not, we run the risk of losing it - the one thing that can help us navigate the darkness that surrounds us during times of uncertainty, anxiety, and lonesomeness. Now faith is the assurance of the things we hope for and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). But it becomes difficult for us to remain faith filled when all we can see are setbacks and sorrow around us.
There have been many times in my life where I felt like abandoning my faith. Times when I did not see the value in trusting God, as my world was crumbling around me. Maybe that is where you are today - feeling that as time goes on, the hope you once had for a marriage, child, job, healing, recovery, or breakthrough is waning. We are often taught that faith is asking God for something and waiting patiently until He provides it to us. But I learned that faith is believing that God can do it even if He doesn’t do it.
For three years I asked God to have the criminal charge against me dismissed and I am now going on year four without any resolution, but I still believe that God can do it. For three years I prayed for a job and haven’t received one, but I still believe that God can provide. My family prayed for my uncle to be healed from COVID and he died, yet I still trust God as a healer.
Do not define your faith by a setback, poor result, or an unanswered prayer. Faith isn’t about receiving something from God; it is declaring like Martha did after the death of her brother when she said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:21-22). Martha asked Jesus to save her brother, her brother died, yet she still believed and had faith in God’s supreme authority.
Your faith, then, does not rest on human wisdom but on God's power.
- 1 Corinthians 2:5 GNT
The Grace To Go On
God does not always give us what we ask for. Sometimes the sickness ends in death, the womb remains barren, the relationship dissolves, the job lays you off, and the rent isn’t paid. That doesn’t mean that God has forgotten about you, that He doesn’t love you, or hasn’t heard your prayers - it means that He is going to provide you with the grace to withstand your disappointment.
When we don’t receive what we have been asking God for, the enemy uses our disillusionment to separate us from God. He wants to rob us of our faith because he knows that it is impossible for us to please God without it (Hebrews 11:6). So, he encourages us to place our faith in people, money, material goods, and things that make us feel good, but ultimately, leaves us hopeless. Remember, there is no relief in the words of the devil.
When the time of your testing comes, do not fall away. You may be disappointed, afraid, and apprehensive, but still believe that even now God can save, heal, deliver, and redeem you. Your situation and circumstances are in God’s hands. Trust and believe in Him and He will renew you.
God makes a home for the lonely; He leads the prisoners into prosperity, Only the stubborn and rebellious dwell in a parched land. - Psalm 68:6 AMP
We do not have an issue asking God to provide for us. When we want a job, we pray for it. When we want a spouse, we pray for him or her. When we want healing, money, or a breakthrough, we ask God for it. There is nothing wrong with trusting God to provide for us - scripture tells us that He will supply every need of ours (Philippians 4:19) and withhold no good things from us (Psalm 84:11). Thank God when He provides but remember that the same God who gives also takes away (Job 1:21).
What do you do when God takes away? What do you do when the job you thought you would retire from lays you off? What do you do when the person you thought you would spend the rest of your life with is gone? What do you do when your health fails, car is repossessed, and house is foreclosed on? What do you do when the things you were depending on in one season of your life, are now unavailable in the next?
Dry No More
A prophet named Elijah, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to King Ahab, “In the name of the Lord, the living God of Israel, whom I serve, I tell you that there will be no dew or rain for the next two or three years until I say so.”
Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Leave this place and go east and hide yourself near Cherith Brook, east of the Jordan. The brook will supply you with water to drink, and I have commanded ravens to bring you food there.”
Elijah obeyed the Lord's command and went and stayed by Cherith Brook. He drank water from the brook, and ravens brought him bread and meat every morning and every evening. After a while the brook dried up because of the lack of rain.
Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Now go to the town of Zarephath, near Sidon, and stay there. I have commanded a widow who lives there to feed you.” - 1 Kings 17:1-9 GNT
During a period of drought, God provided for Elijah. He supplied Elijah with everything he needed to survive during that season of his life, but when that season was over, God took away the very thing he provided to Elijah. Now, the text does not say that the ravens stop bringing food to Elijah, all it says is that the brook dried up. That would have been a problem if Elijah did not have the power to make it rain, but he proclaimed earlier, “there will be no rain… until I say so.” Elijah could have indeed survived by the dry brook, but why just survive when God wants you to thrive?
Elijah had a choice to make; he could stay where God was or move to where God is. He chose to obey God’s commands and trust that where God was taking him was better than what God had taken away from him. Our problem is we stay at the dry brook and like Jonah we complain when God tries to move us into something better by taking away the things and people we were depending on (Jonah 4:8). So, we stay on the dry job, we stay in the dry relationship, and continue making dry decisions when God wants to move us into something better.
God removes people and things from our lives when He wants to make room for the overflow. Leave your dry brooks behind and trust and believe that God will provide for you as He guides you.
Whenever I am anxious and worried, you comfort me and make me glad.
- Psalm 94:19 AMP
I am the type of person who always jumps to the worst possible conclusion. Having that type of disposition turns everyday occurrences into cataclysmic events. If I am having a stomachache, I ask myself, what if it is cancer? If I call someone and they do not answer, I wonder, what if something is wrong? Every time I am paying for something at a store or restaurant, I am like, what if my card is declined (don’t act like you never had that fear)? To put it simply, I worry entirely too much.
Are you a worrier too? Do you often find yourself playing the what if game, asking yourself: “What if I fail?”, “What if I do not get married?”, “What if I do not get the job?”, “What if I do not come up with the money”, or “what if I am sick?”. Worrying is dangerous because it affects us both physically and spiritually. If we worry too much, we risk suppressing our immune system which opens us up to sickness, disease, and possible heart failure. Worrying also affects us spiritually because when we are worrying, what we are really doing is doubting God’s ability to comfort us in times of mourning, provide for us in times of need, and do exceedingly above and beyond what we can ask of Him.
And He did not do many miracles there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief. - Matthew 13:58 AMP
When Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth, He received a less than stellar reception. Many who heard Him, were offended by the things He was saying and authority He claimed. Because of this, He did not perform many miracles there. The people’s unbelief put a limit on what God could do in their lives.
The only limits to God’s power are the ones we place on Him through our unbelief. When our worry leads to doubt, we like the people in Nazareth, place limits on a limitless God. This scripture does not say He did not perform any miracles, it says “He did not do many miracles,” which lets us know that there were some there who had the faith to believe that God can and will do what He said, and they were the ones who received the healings, breakthroughs, and blessings. Instead of worrying about the wrong things, they put their faith in the right thing.
Those who were blessed in Nazareth asked a different “what if” question. They asked, “What if God is who He said He is?” And then they lived like they believed it. You are going to have to do the same thing too. Ask “What if I get the job?”, “What if my business succeeds?”, “What if I am healed?”, “What if I find the love of my life?” and “What if it all works out for my good?” Then live like you believe it. Live like something good is going to happen to and for you.
Jesus tells us not to worry because our Father in Heaven knows exactly what we need (Matthew 6:32). The unbelievers in Nazareth did not have their needs met because of their unbelief - so they went on living a life of apprehension, worry, and doubt when God wanted to give them peace. Do not let unbelief keep you from getting your needs met. Eliminate worry and doubt from your life and by doing so, you will be removing the limits to what God can and will do for you.
Do not desire to possess anything that belongs to another person - not a house, a wife, a husband, or anything else. - Exodus 20:17 CEV
A few weeks ago, I was scrolling on social media and came across a post by Sarah Jakes Roberts that was celebrating her recent achievement of selling 100,000 copies of her latest book. Upon seeing that post I immediately started to feel bad because my book hadn’t sold 100,000 copies. Forget the fact that my goal for this year was to have 1,000 sales/downloads and to date I have nearly tripled that goal. Comparison causes us to diminish our own accomplishments.
Now, you are probably thinking that it is silly of me to be comparing myself to a world-renowned minister and best-selling author and you would be correct. However, it is no sillier than when we compare ourselves to our relatives, friends, co-workers, or random people we meet and see.
It has been said that comparison is the thief of joy, and when comparison leads to feelings of envy, resentment, anger, or causes you to devalue yourself then it becomes easy to see how it can rob you of your happiness, purpose, and wellbeing.
What Others Have
Then all the leaders of Israel met together, went to Samuel in Ramah, and said to him… “… appoint a king to rule over us, so that we will have a king, as other countries have.” - 1 Samuel 8:4-5 GNT
The Israelites were God’s chosen people and yet, they were comparing themselves to others and willing to relinquish God’s protection and provision to pursue what others had. That is what comparison does to us - it makes us envy other people and things at the expense of our own peace and happiness.
Even when God, through Samuel, warned them of everything they would lose by having a king they ignored him and responded by saying:
“No! We want a king, so that we will be like other nations…”
- 1 Samuel 8:19-20 GNT
Do not ask for another person’s blessings if you don’t want their burdens. Do not ask for another person’s relationship or marriage, family, job, success, or influence because you don’t know what they had to endure to obtain those things. You were made by God, and when He made you, He put within you everything you would need to survive the trials you would face, but when you covet and pursue what someone else has you are opening yourself up to an attack that you were not made to handle.
As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands. “Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David. - 1 Samuel 18:7-9 NIV
God chose Saul to be the King of Israel until his direct disobedience led him to fall out of favor with God. Following Saul’s defiance, God then anoints David king. Saul became upset and began to compare himself with David. He grew angry because David was being credited with killing tens of thousands and him, “only thousands.”
Have you, like Saul, ever undervalued your own accomplishments with an “only?” Maybe you have said things like I am only a mother, I am only an assistant, I am only part-time, I only had 10 sales, or I only have a high school education. It says, [Saul] thought, meaning - comparison caused him to create a false narrative in his head that what he had accomplished was insignificant, and an “only” led him to grow spiteful, depressed, and fearful.
In the end, Saul commits suicide and that is ultimately the cost of comparison - the death of your future. Instead of comparing yourself to the image that others want you to see and creating a false narrative in your head - learn to be your authentic self and live the best life God has blessed you with to the fullest.
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