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Summary: A message on finding strength during times of personal and national crisis and challenge. Given the last Sunday in 2009.

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Finding Strength for the New Year

Where do you find strength in times of personal and national challenges? Where do you find strength when a member of your family has a pre-mature death? How do you make it through hurtful experiences that are not justified?

Last November I attended a church conference at the New Orleans Southern Baptist Seminary. Our group took a tour of the areas hit by the 160 miles an hour winds of hurricane Katrina. Over 1,800 people lost their lives in the hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

Over four years later we saw hundreds of house still vacant. Many of the churches in the area were also still vacant. We talked to one pastor in the 5th Ward whose church was built ten feet above the ground. His congregation was still meeting in the small church. There were still holes in the roof and the building was still in need of drastic repairs. He said he was called to serve the area and was not going to relocate. His hope was in the Lord. Their faith and hope in the Lord helped them find strength in a time of crisis and loss.

Psalm 22:1-5 NLT

The Psalmist faced a time of crisis and wondered where God was hiding and why God was not coming to offer help. The Psalmist cried out: “My God, my God? Why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help? Everyday I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night You hear my voice, but I find no relief.”

Have you ever felt like the Psalmist? Have you gone through challenging times and wondered why God didn’t come to you in a special divine moment?

To work through his valley of doubt the Psalmist reflected on past blessings and past answers to prayer and faced the future with hope. Psalm 22:3-5, “Yet you are Holy. The praises of Israel surround your throne. Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. You heard their cries of help and saved them. They put their trust in You and were never disappointed.”

Haven’t you found that true in your life? When you put your trust in the Lord you have never been disappointed.

In times of crisis and challenge we go to the Lord.

When the Apostle Paul wrote Philippians from a dark prison cell, he did not look at the prison bars or darkness of his cell. Paul sang out, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

(Philippians 4:6-7)

I want to suggest several things you can to do to find strength in times of challenge.

Anticipate Challenges in Your Life

The Apostle Peter encouraged Christ followers to expect times of adversity and crisis. “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” I Peter 4:12, NLT

We need to be prepared for personal crisis by making adequate preparations. After we moved to California from Indianapolis, IN we learned that we needed to make special preparation for earthquakes. We bought supplies of food and water to last for a week or more. A member of the church a disaster specialist helped us attach all our cabinets to the walls of the house.

For our Christian School we started we purchased an emergency kit for every child in our school

During the twelve years in San Jose we experienced several earthquakes, the shaking kind and the rolling kind, but nothing major.

During times of challenge and crisis you have two choices. You can fret and worry about what has happened or you can become proactive. Worrying changes nothing. Jesus said, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.” Matt. 6:”27

When was the last time you solved a problem by worrying about it? Nothing is accomplished by saying; “I got behind on my bills so I decided to worry my way out of debt; A few sleepless nights and a day of hand wringing. I yelled at the kids and took some pills, and, glory to worry, money appeared in my account.”

There’s a chorus that goes: “Why worry when you can pray. Trust Jesus every day, why worry, worry, worry when you can pray.”

When going through times of challenge look to God’s Word.

The prophet aIsaiah has the answer: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3) You work through times of challenge by hiding God’s Word in your heart and meditating on His Word. (Isaiah 40:47-31) “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.”

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