“Trust the Lord,” Scripture says.
It may be the hardest thing we do, but it can also be the most rewarding. It may be made even more difficult by our life experience. Our heartbreaks suffered by trusting other people may have taught us we shouldn’t trust anyone, yet the Bible helps us see we can trust the Lord.
Isaiah 26:4 says, “Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.”
Unlike others, the Lord is our eternal rock. He is unshakable, unmovable, and unchangeable. He will not lead us astray or walk out on us, so we can trust him and count on him to be there for us. We can trust him to be there, keeping his promises, and doing what he says he will do. “Trust in the Lord,” Scripture says, and…
- You will have peace as the Lord can provided peace in Christ Jesus that goes beyond human understanding.
- Your paths in life will be straight as the Lord guides your steps and directs your movements.
- You will have a fullness of life that can only be found in Christ Jesus.
- You will have an eternal place prepared by Jesus. He says, “I am going to prepare a place for you, and if I prepare a place for you, I will come back to take you with me so you also may be where I am.”
It may be hard, but it is certainly rewarding to trust in the Lord.
Have you been waiting? This can be one of the most difficult parts of life. We live in a super connected world, so if we have to wait longer than 10 seconds for anything, it is hard. Yet, our lives sometimes take us down paths that require us to wait.
We have to wait to see if we’re going to get our dream job. We have to wait to meet the person we desire to marry. We have to wait as we’re trying to have a family. We have to wait on our prayers to be answered.
The people of Israel also had to wait. They find themselves in a hard time. Their bondage has been harsh, and they have suffered immensely. They are needing and wanting the Lord to work, but they have to wait. As they wait, Isaiah brings encouragement, and it is still encouragement for us today.
Isaiah 64:4 says, “For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!”
Hang in there if you’re waiting. Psalm 27:14 encourages, “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” The Bible promises the Lord is working on your behalf.
“Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?”
These words of Psalm 77 are like those of a personal journal. The Psalmist’s ink quail puts to paper the truth of his thoughts. They may be private thoughts; embarrassment would come if anyone else knew how he felt. However, they are relatable thoughts. Many ask the same questions amid life’s troubles. In fact, you may have noticed the questions and wondered how I knew what you were thinking.
It seems we ask these questions in hard times, feeling the answer may be yes, but Scripture reminds us the Lord is always faithful, always keeping his promises. As Hebrews 4 says, the Lord will never leave us, and Isaiah 64 states the Lord works for those who wait for him. The Psalmist said he asked these questions, but found hope in remembering the Lord.
He says in verse 11, “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord.” As he remembered the Lord, the Psalmist hope was restored.
We too can find hope in remembering the Lord.
We can find hope in remembering his deeds.
In verses 11-12, the Psalmist says, “I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.”
Remember all the deeds of the Lord: how he brought the Israelites out of Egypt, how he helped Israel with the overwhelming task of conquering Canaan, and how he come walking out of the tomb. The Lord has always provided an answer to his people. Our hope can be restored by remembering his deeds.
We can find hope in remembering his character.
The Lord is holy. The Lord is merciful, gracious, loving, compassionate, faithful, and more! Remembering his character can bring us great hope.
We can find hope in remembering his power
The Psalmist proclaims in verse 14, “You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.”
God’s power has been on display throughout history. It was visible when he brought Israel out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, toppled the walls of Jericho, and calmed the storm with a single word. The Lord’s power is awesome, and he works for those who wait for him. Remembering the Lord’s power restores our hope.
The Lord’s deeds, character, and power can provide us with much hope. The next time you feel rejected, failed, or as if the Lord has turned his back on you, restore your hope by remembering his deeds, character, and power.
Perhaps it seems odd, but we share some thoughts with ancient Israel. The Israelites found themselves in captivity, and they were wondering if God had totally left them. Feelings of loneliness and thoughts of abandonment were prevalent. Where was God? Why was he not answering?
We may find ourselves asking these same questions as we look at our circumstances. The political landscape is stressful. There are marriages on the brink of disaster. Finances are operating paycheck to paycheck, trying to stretch every penny farther than it was designed to go. The pressures of life are heavy, and as we start to buckle under the weight, we relate to the Israelites. Where is God? Why is he not answering?
Thankfully, the Lord sent Isaiah to offer encouragement to Israel, and we too can find encouragement in his words. In Isaiah 40, the prophet offers 3 keys to remember amid hard times.
First, the Lord is all-powerful.
Isaiah asks in verse 28, “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.”
It’s as if Isaiah is saying, “Don’t forget…”
“Don’t forget the Lord is everlasting.”
Psalm 90 proclaims, “Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.” There’s never been a time without the Lord, nor will there ever be a time without the Lord. Don’t forget the Lord is everlasting.
“Don’t forget the Lord is the creator.”
Genesis 1:1 reminds us God created the Heavens and the Earth. He was there before anything existed, and he is the one who spoke everything into existence. Remember, God is the creator.
“Don’t forget the Lord never loses strength.”
Jeremiah reminds us the Lord’s strength is always there. In chapter 32, he says, “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!” Nothing is too hard for God. There are things that are too hard for us, but not for him; he carries the heaviest of loads with ease. The pressures of life which cause us to buckle, don’t even cause him to flinch. Jesus says what is impossible for man is possible for God; his word never fails. Keep in mind God does not lose his strength.
“Don’t forget his wisdom is immeasurable.”
“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways,” states Romans 11. Don’t forget there is no end to the Lord’s wisdom.
Remember, God is all-powerful. It may seem are struggles hold all the power, but God holds more. Amid a difficult season, Isaiah reminds us of God’s power.
Second, the Lord desires to help us.
Isaiah says the Lord wants to help us. In verse 29, Isaiah exalts the Lord by saying he gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. The Lord is willing and able to help us.
Third, the Lord will get us through.
It is in our weakest moments it seems the Lord does his best work. He sure did for Israel. The Lord delivered the Israelites from captivity, and he rebuilt their nation. They were wondering where God was; why he wasn’t answering, but he pulled them through the hard time.
As we are wondering where God is; why he is not answering, we need to remember the encouragement of verses 30-31:
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
Amid the hard times in life, we need to remember to trust in the Lord. He will pull us through. The stresses and pressures of life are no match for the Lord. His strength will get us through.
The next time you find yourself buckling under the pressure of a hard time, remember, Isaiah’s 3 keys:
- The Lord is all-powerful, and can handle anything that may come.
- The Lord desires to help.
- The Lord will get you through the difficulty.
All the Gospel writers tell us of a resurrection. They each approach it from a different angle, but come to the same climax: the tomb is empty. Jesus coming out of the tomb and leaving it empty gives us much hope. Our hope rests on the foundation of Jesus being alive. So, how can, we be sure? How can we be sure the tomb is empty and our hope is resting in the right place?
Paul helps shed some light on these questions. In 1 Corinthians 15, as if he were presenting a case in court, Paul lays out 4 reasons our hope is on a firm foundation.
First, the Scriptures said Jesus would rise.
1 Corinthians 15 says Christ’s tomb was emptied just as the Scriptures declared. There are many Old Testament prophecies that point to Jesus coming out of the grave; Psalm 16 among them. Peter eloquently explains this fact. In Acts 2, he says:
“King David said this about him:
‘I see that the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad,
and my tongue shouts his praises!
My body rests in hope.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
You have shown me the way of life,
and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’
“Dear brothers, think about this! You can be sure that the patriarch David wasn’t referring to himself, for he died and was buried, and his tomb is still here among us. But he was a prophet, and he knew God had promised with an oath that one of David’s own descendants would sit on his throne. David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.”
The Scriptures pointed to Jesus vacating the tomb.
Second, Jesus made several appearances.
To continue his case, Paul brings eyewitness accounts into the courtroom. In 1 Corinthians 15, he says, “He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.”
Jesus not only appeared to individuals, he appeared to a large group. Over 500 people have the same account: Jesus appeared to them. If this were false, a few individuals’ stories may align, but getting 500 people to tell the same story is virtually impossible. Playing the game Telephone illustrates how difficult it is to keep a story straight in a large group. Each time the story is passed from person to person in the circle, it changes a little. It’s often not even the same story when it makes it around the circle. Keeping stories straight is hard, unless they are true.
500 eyewitnesses taking the stand to declare the same thing is undeniable. The risen Lord appeared to them.
Third, since Christ lives, we live.
Paul’s third point reminds us the way to life is Christ. It was Jesus’ work on the cross and death which paid the penalty for the world’s sins. His corpse was placed in the tomb after his death.
“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So, you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.”
We can sum it up this way: Jesus started a long legacy of folks leaving the cemetery. If he lives, we too can live. Jesus declares in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.”
Fourth, death has been struck a death blow.
In his fourth point, Paul helps us understand when Jesus walked out of the grave, he destroyed death’s power. It was in this moment Jesus stripped death of its grip. The Psalmist writes, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall not be afraid,” because death does not have the power to hold onto us. Christ took it away.
1 Corinthians 15 proclaims:
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
These 4 points help us see the empty tomb is a solid foundation for our hope. It is because of an empty tomb we have hope, and our hope is more than wishful thinking. Our hope is the truth of knowing victory is ours in Christ. Our hope is knowing, though we may have troubles now, we will overcome them because of an empty tomb.
A family who had twin boys wanted to teach them a lesson about attitude. They took each boy and placed him in a room by himself. The room was full of horse manure. They told the boys they had to stay in their rooms for an hour, then they would come get them. When the family returned to the first boy’s room, he was sitting in the corner of the room just watching the clock, but when they returned to the second boy’s room, he was shoveling the manure out the window. “why are you doing that?” they asked. He replied, “With all this manure in here, there has to be a pony at the bottom of the pile.” The boys were in similar situations but took completely different approaches.
Attitude determines how we approach life. Our attitude determines the approach we take to life. Paul, the writer of Philippians, gives three keys to help us take the right approach.
The first key is not to worry.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not worry about anything….” A scholar did a word study on “anything,” and discovered it really means, “anything.” Don’t worry, that sounds an awful lot like what Jesus says, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”
Jesus uses birds for an example; they do not go out and sow seed in the spring, and water the seed all summer so they can reap a harvest in the fall. They don’t do that, yet they still have food to eat. God provides for them, and if he will provide for birds, why wouldn’t he also provide for us?
When we worry, we are putting God into a box and slamming a lid on it. This problem is too big for me to handle, so it must be too big for God. We can’t go there; we can’t raise that much money. In all honesty, that is what we think sometimes. Yet, Ephesians 3:20 says God can do immeasurably more than we can imagine.
Think about that for just a moment. Immeasurably more than we can imagine; you can’t measure something that is immeasurable – it is impossible, and we can imagine some pretty big things. That means God can do immeasurably more than we can comprehend. When things come up that are too big for us, we should be asking, “How big is God?” The answer is, he can do immeasurably more than we can imagine. Jesus says if we seek after the Kingdom first, all our other needs will be met.
Stop and think. There is not anyone who has added time to their life by worrying about it. Jesus says we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, because today has enough troubles of its own. Not worrying is the first key.
The second key is to pray about everything.
Instead of spending time worrying about tomorrow, Scripture suggests that time would be more wisely spent praying about it. Paul says the result of carrying everything to God in prayer is that his peace will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. A peace that we know no matter what comes our way, we’ll be able to get through it with the help of Jesus. We may not understand it or comprehend how this is possible, but we know that it is true. We should not worry about anything but carry everything to God in prayer through Christ. Praying about everything is the second key.
The third key is to have a positive outlook.
We should have a positive outlook. We are encouraged to dwell in the following territory: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
Every adjective in this list points to something good, something positive. The opposite of things that are good and positive are bad and negative. The question is, which one are we going to concentrate on – the negative or the positive?
Two men attended the same church service on the same Sunday morning. The first man noticed the organist missed a note during the prelude, the music was too loud, and the preacher had a slip of the tongue six times. The second man enjoyed the prelude because it was one of his favorite hymns, was deeply moved by the music, and listened intently to the sermon because it answered a question that had bothered him for a long time. The difference between these two men is what they concentrated on. The first man took a negative outlook, while the second man took a positive outlook. Which outlook in life are you taking?
The past year or so has served as a great reminder there will always be trouble in life. Lost jobs, economic hardships, and uncertainty will always be a part of our lives. And, I’m not saying if we get up in the morning and think it is going to be a beautiful day, that it will automatically become a beautiful day. We will experience trouble from time to time. We will face trials of many kinds, but how we respond to these trials is up to us. We can either sit around dwelling on the negative, or we can concentrate on the positive.
We all have something to thank God for. Here are some stats.
- If you were able to get up this morning in good health, you are better off than 2 million people around the world.
- If you are not persecuted, you are better off than 3 billion others in the world.
Attitude determines a lot in life. Put yourself in the story of the twins. Which boy are you? Are you the one sitting in the corner absorbed by the smell and watching the clock? If so, consider putting these three keys into practice.
He is famous for his absence; his lack of presence is what left his watermark in history. We don’t know why he was absent. He may have been too fearful to leave his home, or he may have been so discouraged by current events and the political climate that he just stayed away. We don’t know why he wasn’t there, but many are glad he stayed away. Many are glad this man was absent on the evening of Jesus’ appearance.
Their gladness does not come because he missed Jesus. Their gladness comes in knowing when he heard about Jesus’ appearance, he had his doubts about a resurrected Savior. John 20 says, “One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”
The disciples kept telling Thomas they had seen the risen Lord, but Thomas can’t wrap his mind around it. We don’t know why he doubted; a few weeks earlier he was ready to lead the disciples as Jesus went to raise Lazarus from the grave. In that moment his courage and boldness for the Lord shined brightly, but here, Thomas has some unanswered questions and doubts. This may sound familiar to you.
In fact, it might describe you. Your courage and boldness for the Lord may have shined brightly in the past, but now, you have a few questions and some doubts. So, your glad Thomas was absent. His absence helps us understand how the Lord will respond to our questions and our doubts.
Jesus does not leave Thomas hanging in the balance filled with doubt. Notice what happens starting in John 20:26, “Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” It’s as if Jesus was there when Thomas expressed his doubts to the other disciples, and comes saying, “Hey Thomas, here I am. Here’s my hands. Here’s my feet. Let me put your hand in my side.” Jesus does not leave Thomas sitting in his doubts. He comes offering an invitation of help.
Jesus comes offering us the same invitation of assistance. He does not leave us hanging in the balance filled with doubts. Jesus offers us the opportunity to look back at how he has helped us in the past. He offers us the historical evidence of an empty tomb. We can visit the tomb and find that it is empty.
Because of an empty tomb, you and I do not have to smother in moments of doubt. Jesus helps us renew our hope and our certainty through his resurrection. Doubts may come, but they will not cause Jesus to run. He responds to us with an invitation of help just like he gave Thomas. Jesus will not leave us alone in our doubts.