Skip to main content

With Us in the Midst, Immanuel.

God does not keep a man immune from trouble; He says - "I will be with him in trouble. " Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest (May 19).

"God does not keep a man immune from trouble." Those are some bold words and hard words to swallow by Mr. Chambers. Not only that, but when placed on the backdrop of the "Prosperity Gospel" it sounds downright blasphemous. If the foundation of your belief is that when you accept Christ God will bless you financially, physically, in real estate, and with the car of your dreams, hearing that He does not keep us from our trials is more than a small fly in the ointment. Sadly, far too many people in America, and perhaps around the world, believe that coming to Christ means salvation, not just from eternity in torment, but from the trials and struggles of this life. The witness of the Gospels and the epistles of the New Testament could not paint a more different picture than that. In fact, I would say that the entire Bible gives us evidence that God does not save us from our trials but, as Chambers says, He is with us through them.

This may sound awfully basic but I think it is terribly important that we, as Christians, understand that God is with us no matter what we face, or where we find ourselves. If you look in Mark 4:35-41 you will find the account of Jesus and the disciples in a boat, on the sea, facing a storm. It tells us that a "fierce gale of wind" blew up and the waves were crashing over the boat. In fact, the boat, we are told, was beginning to fill up with water. Let me pause here for a moment in case there are those who are reading that are "nautically challenged." The soul purpose of a boat is to keep you out of the water. In order to do that, it must keep the water out. At this point it would be safe to say that the disciples were in a crisis. In short, they were  afraid they were going to die. In the midst of all of this where was Jesus? Did He not care? Check out verse 38;

Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? "

Asleep on the cushion? Wh...wh...asleep on the cushion?! I can understand why the disciples were a little bit miffed about what Jesus was doing here. For years when I read this passage I agreed with the disciples because it very much looks like Jesus doesn't care that they are dying. Here is what I believe the Lord revealed to me, just recently, about this episode. Jesus wasn't asleep in the back of the boat because He didn't care. Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat because He knew who He was and what kind of power He has. Jesus knew that in a moment He could stand up and calm the storm with just a few words and that is exactly what He did. It is easy for me to look around in the trials and crisis' in my life and wonder if Jesus is in the back of the boat asleep and I have a sneaky suspicion many of you could say the same. Here's the kicker for me, Jesus not only knows who He is and what kind of power He has, but He also knows that we are in His hands. Christ can see the big picture and He knows how it is all going to work out and He knows that we are safe in His care. As a result of what He knows He can remain cool, calm and collected in a crisis. That doesn't mean we aren't going to get wet in the process or that we will be saved from our unpleasant circumstances, but it does mean we're going to make it through.

There is another great example of the truth that God will be with us in our trials in the Old Testament...well, there are many examples of this in the Old Testament, but I'm just going to pick this one for now. If my estimation is correct there are a fair number of you who have heard this story so let me summarize.

There were three young, Israelite men who were among those selected to serve King Nebuchadnezzer; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They so impressed the king  that they were given appointments in his administration. After having a dream, which these three men and their other friend Daniel interpreted, the king built a massive statue which all the people of the nation were to bow down to when the royal band began to play. Knowing that worshiping idols and false gods was prohibited by Yahweh, these three were committed to NOT bowing down. This infuriated Nebuchadnezzer and he proceeded to throw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into a fiery furnace. Listen to what happened after that;

Then Nebuchadnezzer the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, "Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?" They replied to the king, "Certainly, O King." He said, "Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!  " Daniel 3:24-25 NASB.

Some scholars believe that the fourth man in the fire was a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. That is, it was Christ with them before He was born of a virgin and lived among us, etc., etc. Here is the take home point; God did not just deliver Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the furnace, He was in the furnace with them. God, through His Word, promises us that He will be with us no matter what the world throws our way and no matter what trials and struggles we may find ourselves in the midst of. It may seem like He's in the back of the boat asleep but He is there standing with us in our darkest and most trying times. This should give us an amazing amount of comfort. This, I believe, is part of that "peace that passes all understanding."

Yes, God is transcendent and stands over and above all that He has created, but He is also involved in our lives and the history of the world. This is not the god of deism who set things into motion and then let go, never to act again in the affairs of humanity. This is not the god of ancient civilizations that was manifest only in the natural phenomena. This is not the god that atheists accuse of being a spoiled brat burning ants with a magnifying glass. This IS the God of all creation who cares for His people and cared enough, not only to send His only Son to redeem mankind, but also cares enough to be in the furnace, and on the stormy sea WITH us!

My question for you today is this, "Where do you find yourself in these examples?" Are you in the furnace or are you on the sea? You may be living in one of the best times of God's blessing that you can remember but I'm certain that you will find yourself in a time of trial at some point in your life. When you do, understand that God is WITH you. He is not looking on hoping for the best or wondering if you're going to survive. He is with you. Furthermore, just because you find yourself in tough circumstances don't let anyone try to convince you it is because your faith isn't strong enough. The strength of our faith is born out of adversity. It is in those trials that our faith in God is tempered and made resolute.

And not only this, but we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

One of the most powerful names of Christ is "Immanuel" which means "God with us." And just in case you're curious, Christ still is Immanuel because on the third day He rose from the grave and lives to this day to be our High Priest and Intercessor. Just before Jesus ascended into Heaven He gave us the Great Commission but when you read it, don't overlook the last line;

and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20b NASB.



Popular posts from this blog

Characteristics of a Godly Watchman Pt. 1: Vigilance

Most everyone has heard an alarm go off. It may be something as mundane as the alarm clock every morning that tells us it is time to get up and get ready for work, or it may be something as frightening as a fire alarm. No matter what the specific purpose of the alarm they all share one common theme: they are meant to alert people and warn them of impending danger.

In Joel 2:1 the Lord commands the prophet to; Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountainbecause the day of the Lord is coming. That is, God’s judgment is coming upon Israel for their sinfulness. Further along in the chapter, in verse 15, Joel is again commanded to blow a trumpet but this time it is to call the assembly of the people together so that they can, consecrate a fast. This tells us two important things about the role, or the duty, of the prophet of God. First, it tells us that the prophet is to act as an alarm to warn the people of God’s coming judgment. Secondly, the prophet is also to be the mo…

A Letter to Christian Girls.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Tonight my wife has been asked to speak to a group of Christian girls on the issues of dating, purity, relationships, etc. As part of that, the youth pastor of this church asked if I would write a letter to the group of young women from a guy's point of view. Now, I can't say as I remember ever having written a letter to a group of teenage girls but I do have some pretty strong feelings about the way our culture has portrayed love, marriage and particularly women. So, what I would like to do in this post is reproduce for you some of this letter. I may add some here and subtract some there but I want this to be my letter to all the Christian, young ladies out there.

What I want to do, through this letter, is share some things from a “guys” point of view because it’s no secret that we see things a little differently than you ladies do. You may think that all we think about …

My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter?

Have you ever seen that bumper sticker? The one that says "My boss is a Jewish carpenter." I certainly have and generally when I see it I quietly agree with the driver and take the encouragement that comes with seeing a fellow soldier in the Lord's army. Just this evening, though, I had a thought as I was driving home from Bible study. "Should Jesus be my boss?" Now before you go casting judgment on the thought let me explain what I mean. I propose that instead if being a "boss" we should be looking at God and Christ as "Master." I'll explain by looking at some differences in the idea of boss and master.

Difference #1: Why were you hired?

When an individual is hired for a job by an employer it is for a specific reason. Perhaps a particular skill, talent or level of education qualifies someone for a particular job. The employer hires the person that is the most qualified to fulfill the task. Granted, this is the way it is supposed to work. …