Summary: The three truths about life. (1) God uses problems to draw us closer to Himself; (2) You never know God is all you need until God is all you have; (3) Pray as if everything depends on God. Work as if everything depends on you.
I am going to say something that will not sink in well with many - God uses problems to draw us closer to Himself.
God saved Israel miraculously from slavery in Egypt, but ever since they stepped out, they had been facing one hardship after another.
• The Egyptian armies came after them. They faced the Red Sea. They found themselves in the desert, with no food and water.
• When they did find water, it was bitter. Nothing was smooth.
• And now they faced their first battle. The Amalekites came and attacked them.
How do you like that? The journey with God turned out to be a walk into the wilderness and not a cruise down the Red Sea.
• It was a walk into many hardships. Many discomforts. Nagging illnesses. Lingering pain. Constant troubles.
• Yet God was in the midst of it all! That’s the odd thing about it. God is in our troubles.
Truth 1: God uses problems to draw us closer to Himself.
If everything has been smooth and easy, the Israelites would not have known God. They would not have seen His provisions of manna, quail or water.
• We learn things about God in sufferings that we can’t learn any other way.
God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Job from being tested, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, and his friends from being thrown into the furnace, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, and kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times, but He didn’t.
• He let those problems happen, and each of those people were drawn closer to God as a result.
• Now they know God. He is with them. He is for them. And in Him they can overcome the odds.
A father walks his toddler in the park. He lifts her up when they face some obstacles – puddle of water, patches of mud, a big stone, a dog’s shit…
We wish God would walk us the same way. His hands will lift us up from all harms.
If you have taken a walk with God long enough, you now know that this isn’t the case. God holds our hand and walks us THROUGH them – the trials and tribulations, the winds and the storms.
“Hang in there. I’m holding on to you. You’re safe in my hands.” And we go through it all.
The victory is assured, not that God delivers us FROM bad circumstances, but that God leads us to victory THROUGH bad circumstances.
• We have One who sees us through our difficulties and cause us to come out victorious and strong.
• How can I be so sure? Jesus once said to Simon Peter - Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus did not say if Satan challenges you, I will stop him. I will take away his power. I’ll knock him on his head. You will be immune from every temptation, trouble and testing.
• Nope, the Lord did not say that. Neither did God tell that to Job.
• Instead, Jesus said that He will pray for Simon, that his faith may not fail.
• God will help Simon weather through the storm and come out stronger. When it is all over, Jesus says, strengthen your brothers.
We have to believe, we can make it by the grace of God. We have to believe, we can overcome the odds by the strength of God.
• He will never let go of our hands. Don’t let go of His!
God is fully dependable. Truth 2: “You never know God is all you need until God is all you have.” (Rick Warren)
• Israel was put in a helpless state. They had to overcome the Red Sea and face the desert, without food and water.
• What can they do, nothing! They need to depend on God for everything, even for “bread and butter”.
And God provided! Not one meal, not for one day, one week, one month, one year, but for 40 years. Every day, manna and quail, for 40 years.
• Exo 16:35 “The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.” Until they have no need of it.
• It seems that each time the Israelites hit an obstacle or problem, they get to see a new side of God. His actions reveal something about Himself.
God is faithful and dependable. Israel is beginning to see that. And they learnt it through their troubles.
• Problems force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves.