The Key is Trust
Just before Easter weekend 2015, I had the flu. Sometimes the flu comes with mild symptoms; sometimes the symptoms are severe. In my case, it was the latter. Even seven days later, when I thought I was recovering, the cough continued with such severity that I coughed and coughed until my body ached. On Wednesday evening, a week after I got the flu, I was talking with a friend on the phone when we were interrupted by my uncontrollable cough. I went to bed that evening harassed by the devil. I spiraled down as my mind was crippled with anxiety over the following questions.
How can I go on a trip to Columbus, Ohio, with my runny nose and continual coughing? Will I infect my hosts? How would the people on the plane feel when at times I’ll likely be coughing abnormally? How can I preach Sunday morning when I couldn't hold a short conversation with my friend on the phone? How will I be able to teach a two-hour seminar Sunday afternoon? Or what about the Monday evening lecture or the Tuesday two-hour "Perspectives" seminar? Can I cancel the trip that is supposed to start in two days? Is it fair to ask the people who invited me to find another speaker on such short notice? As I shared my anxious thoughts with my wife, she said to me: “Just trust the Lord.”
Then God brought to mind a short formula. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
As I meditated on this text, I realized that the key to submission and to pleasing God is TRUST. By trusting God, I am actively resisting the devil. So I decided to take my “Trust List” with me on the trip for prayer and meditation.
“For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In repentance and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength’” (Isaiah 30:15).
Here are the first six points on my Trust List. In the next blog I will share with you the entire list. As you read these six points, be thinking about what you would include in your own Trust List.
1. Father, I trust you that right now you are revealing yourself to all sorts of people around the world including those who are not seeking you. "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I'" (Isaiah 65:1). I trust you that you are and that you will be revealing yourself to key leaders in the Muslim world and even to ISIL leaders. Thank you for the way you impacted Saul of Tarsus.
2. I trust you, Father, that in spite of the fact I am a very cracked jar of clay, the Holy Spirit is dwelling within me. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Father, help my family and I not to wax the cracks in our lives and pretend that we are all together. May the Holy Spirit glow through these cracks.
3. I trust you, Lord, that you have already blessed me and blessed your body, your family around the world with every spiritual blessing. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Father, forgive us when we tend to see the cup as half empty. Father, open our eyes to see how you have already blessed us and how you lavish your grace on our fallen world.
4. I trust you, Father, that we your children are totally accepted by you because you see each one of us through the lens of what Jesus did on the cross and through the resurrection. It is an amazing and hard-to-believe fact that we are fully pleasing to you. When you look at each one of us your children, you see us wrapped from our heads to our toes with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10).
5. I trust you, Father, that you can help me and my family to have the right attitude toward our circumstances, no matter how tough they are, and to give you thanks. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Thank you Father for my particular circumstances that I am experiencing today. Help me to see these circumstances as a gift from you, strange as they may seem to be.
6. Father, our broken world is a mess. Viruses seem to get more resistant year after year. Terrorism is rampant, with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabab in Somalia, and the messy situations in Yemen, Libya and many other parts of the world. With the trials and tribulations facing the world, we all wonder whether the finances that we have saved will be enough for us to live out our retirement years. Will we transition to heaven gracefully, or will we become a burden to those around us? Father, like Habakkuk I want to trust you. “I heard and my heart pounded; my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:16–19). Yes, Lord, I will trust you and rejoice in you in spite of ...
Early Sunday morning in Columbus, as I prayed over my Trust List God reminded me through 2 Corinthians 4:7 (Trust List # 2) that I am a cracked jar of clay and that I do not need to impress or deceive the church people by waxing my cracks and appearing that I am all together. So I decided to share with the congregation at the beginning of the sermon that according to 2 Corinthians 4:7, I am a cracked jar of clay struggling with a cough. I told the congregation that after the service, please do not shake my hand. Instead, give me a fist bump, just in case I still have a virus.
As I continued to meditate on the texts in my trust list, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 was what I really needed to hear (Trust List # 5). I needed to give thanks to God for the circumstance of my physical brokenness. So for the first time since I became sick, I thanked God for the cough and started to see it as a “gift”– a reminder that I am a cracked jar of clay and I need to be completely dependent on him.
At the church service, I experienced God’s strength in my weakness, and God blessed in a way that exceeded my imagination.
In the next blog, I will share with you my entire Trust List and hopefully you will be encouraged to come up with your own list. Your list should include not only your needs, but also the needs of others and what is on God’s heart for the world.