Month: January 2019

He Sustains Us

Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
(Psalm 55:17)

Living in our time, isn’t there something distressing every day ?

Sometimes we cry out because we have a chronic affliction like depression or battling persistent  headaches from Lyme disease or suffering from recurrent autoimmune attacks. But even if we don’t suffer from a lingering ailment, simply living in the 21st century provides plenty that makes us groan.

As we face distress, we cry out in prayer to our Lord who hears our voice :

Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
(Psalm 55:22)

If I were in charge (which I’m not !) then once I cast my care in prayer, I would be mercifully freed from that care and not have to worry about it anymore. However, today’s Scripture  does not say that the Lord will quickly remove all our cares. No, the promise is that the Lord will sustain us even while we have them.

I face a new care in my own life : I have developed a heart rhythm  issue, so I  can’t run competitively any more. My plans had been to keep running competitively  year after year, limited only by the gradual decline based on aging. So it was a shocker to have such a sudden exit from being able to enjoy something I have done for decades. (But please do note: I am very thankful that at least I can still jog for a few miles !)

No, God never guaranteed I’d be able to compete against the top runners in my age group year after year.  Yet in the face of all that, God does provide a different and better guarantee! It’s a guarantee that  I will not be shaken.  My faith and security in Jesus will remain and won’t be shaken even if  I can’t ever compete again in this lifetime.

But what if I face another new challenging issue ?

Cast it on him.

I don’t know exactly what your stresses are. But my counsel from the Lord is

Cast it on him.

Guaranteed : As we pray, we see that no matter what happens, God loves us, cares for us, and sustains us. He will  not let our unity with Jesus be shaken.

Sheep Without a Shepherd

shep 3

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

When I, then an agnostic, heard the good news and believed the gospel, it was a life-changing event. Indeed, God instantly took away a kind of alienated rage that I often felt. But the Lord had much, much more work to do in me yet.

I had plenty to learn about what it meant to follow my shepherd and to hear his voice. And some of this learning took a long time. As just one example, it took eight years to be cured of my smoking addiction. And my training is still going on today.  Why do I still need that ? Because even after all these years part of me is still addicted to wanting  my own way.

Here’s how the Apostle  Paul presents the sequence of first believing the gospel and then  making every effort to live it out:

Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.  For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,  encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.  (1 Thessalonians 2: 8b,11-12)

Today we often think of the Christian life in overly individualistic terms. Once we’ve believed and come to faith, we try to  live a private Christian life. But Paul challenges this solitary mindset, with a compelling comparison of how being Christians  is like being part of a family.

Two thousand years after Paul,  we are asked to live Christian life in community, sharing our lives as well.  What does this kind of community look like for 21st century people ? How can a more experienced  believer share life in Christ with new believers , encouraging them and comforting them ?

It’s through this family sort of community, called koinonia in the Bible,  that we  progressively  grow out of being harassed and helpless. I think we’ll be growing together in seeing  in how to live this out.

It’s my prayer that koinonia grows in all our churches.