All in Volume - 60

“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:5-7).

As you know, the above are well-known and well-loved verses intended to impart comfort to those of us flailing in the grip of anxiety and fear.  You may wonder how such dreadful feelings as anxiety and fear could be a blessing to anyone.  “Really?” you ask.

The Bible positively affirms that creation includes more that just the material world. This is hard to grasp considering the overall materialistic outlook of the 21st century world. Our excessively material outlook is in large part an overreaction to the medieval superstitions. In the Dark Ages, everything that happened on earth had a spiritual cause; milk spoiled because an evil spirit visited you, and walking under a ladder would disrupt the trinity, giving bad luck. Today, the intellectual consensus is that all things can be explained on a strictly physical level and therefore spiritual things do not exist.

The past couple of decades in brain research has yielded amazing and unexpected discoveries.  Using MRI technology, brain researchers have better refined our understanding of the brain’s structure as well as how the brain responds to various stimuli.  For example, to better understand how the brain of a smoker works, scientists would tell the test subjects to think about cigarettes and observe how the brain responds through MRI.  All good research requires not only test subjects but also a control group.  In such studies, the control group would be told to empty their minds and think of nothing.  What we accidentally discovered is that the human brain does not default to think about nothing.  Our “default setting” is to think about the future.

The answer to that question now depends more on the person asking the question than on God.  Through God's mercy and grace, He has provided and revealed to us all a plan by which we can be forgiven if we will humbly submit to the terms of His offer.  And really, that is what a good portion of the Bible is about. 

When God spoke to Moses from the “burning bush” at Sinai he told him, “I have come down to rescue Israel from the hand of the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:8). After some resistance and some adventures along the way, Moses went to Egypt and shared God’s message and miraculous signs with the people there, “And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped” (Exodus 4:31). A few days later, the Israelites who had believed and worshiped were disillusioned and frightened and angry. Egypt’s king had rejected Moses and God’s message and had made the work load of the enslaved Hebrews more difficult and demanding than ever. Moses’s own reaction was a complaint to God, asserting that “you have not rescued your people at all” (Exodus 5:23).

Have you ever found yourself in a tight spot?  One that appears dire and dangerous?  One that provokes intense fear and frustration as pressures firmly outside of your control begin to constrict you?  One that leaves you feeling abandoned and alone?  I know I certainly have.  In such circumstances, it’s easy to begin wondering whether God really cares, to assume that the apparent absence of immediate, tangible aid and intervention is proof He is not concerned.  If God is truly our mighty, powerful and loving Creator – if He really sees everything – wouldn’t He have pity and use His immense power and resources to help me in my time of desperate need?

Failure is an inevitable part of the human experience. Everyone fails:  in small things and even in the biggest things. Some of these failures are inconsequential and easily forgotten, but failures in the spiritual life are not so simple. As we deal with these spiritual failures, understand that God is dealing with them too…

The love of God determined that Christ depart the realm of glory to make Himself of no reputation. The result was redemption and a return to glory. It was done for our sakes. This was and is the supreme compromise. By following Jesus, we are clothed to reflect that great love.  We do this by finding a meeting point, a compromise with our neighbors in the world and with our family in Christ….