One of the things that Christians need to constantly remind ourselves, especially in challenging times, is a promise found in the Book of Isaiah. Now, Isaiah wasn’t living in happy times, in fact it was a very challenging time for the Israelites. They were under exile and Isaiah himself would eventually die as a martyr. Yet, in Chapter 40 of the book, verses 27-31, we find one of the most recognized promises of the Bible.
How could Isaiah derive hope and faith in God in such times, not only for himself, but in counseling and leading the people? How we respond to the storms in our lives makes a lot of difference. Some of us fly straight into the storm, but it was no accident that an analogy of the eagle was used in this passage. Recently, Pr Ramesh Kumar shared in Seremban Life Assembly concerning this matter.
Abundant Life: What Does it Mean?
Among the countless promises of God to His people is that of abundant life. What does this actually mean? It means that God has purposed for us to live in victory. Pr Ramesh shared that our identity in Christ itself is already automatically a blessing. Through Christ, we receive provision everyday not just in material needs but also in spiritual ones.
However, in the midst of blessings, there will also be trials. What happens then? Will we forget God? Will His promise about abundant life seem a fraud, to put it bluntly? Is abundant life about comfortable times and riches? Often, in such situations, even as Christians, we fall into panic and fear.
We are called to a prophetic and anointed movement as God’s people and we must believe in who we are. There is great privilege in being God’s children and His people must take discipleship seriously. Our relationship with God must go beyond mere worship in churches. We are called to live daily in God’s victory and be a blessing to others.
Fear Takes Our Focus Away From God
We often hear that God didn’t give us a spirit of fear but of power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). Often, however, it is easy to say, but when the real test comes, many of us forget this. And the problem comes when we allow our fears to take our focus away from God. Pr Ramesh shared that we need to really look into what this verse means.
Firstly, it speaks about power. Where does the power come from? Secondly, it speaks about love and our response in whatever circumstances. Very importantly, it also speaks about self-discipline. It is not by accident that Isaiah used an analogy of the eagle soaring above the storms. He lived in a land that had an open sky filled with soaring eagles and uncertain weather.
Pr Ramesh related that once he saw an eagle outside his window, just before a storm. The eagle was just flying calmly, and when he looked again a few minutes after the storm had started, the eagle was gone. The thing about eagles is that they know to soar above the storms before it comes. They know whenever a storm is approaching, and they don’t wait for it to hit. They use the drafts to lift them up and they soar above the storms.
Christians need to prepare and build foundations before the storm comes. Will we be able to soar above the storms where there is peace, or will we fly straight into them and get buffeted by the lightning and windstorms? Pr Ramesh imparted that whenever we go through storms, God wants to tell us something. He wants to teach us or help us remove something that is not right in our lives. Often, He will need to take us down to a level where He can talk to us.
Life Is Not a Bed of Roses
A reality of life is that we often find unfairness and uncertainties in it. But the Bible never promised us a bed of roses and even in those beds you will find thorns. Jesus reminds us that in this life we will have tribulation but take heart for He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Our response to storms is of vital importance. God loves us. He is not sadistic and simply allowing us to go through difficult times just so that He can feel powerful and superior. He wants us to live in victory and abundance. But there will be times when we need to grow and when He would need to mould us. Above all, He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to trust in Him. Often, such experiences act as a call to come back to God. Pr Ramesh counseled that we need to listen to Him.
Storms Can Be Unexpected but They Come to an End
A central truth that we need to constantly remind ourselves is that God is larger than the storm. Additionally, everything that has a beginning has an end. Storms begin, they will eventually end. The people of Israel were constantly besieged by surrounding powerful enemies yet they lasted until today. God employed Cyrus to restore the exiled Israelites to their land (Isaiah 45:13). We need to know who our God is. How do we do so? By reading His Word and really believing it.
Too often, prayer becomes a last resort whenever trouble comes. We try to find solutions through our own understanding and through other means rather than coming before God. We worry up to a point before letting God take control of the situation, and often, we finally find that we would have saved all the trouble and pain if we had only listened or come to Him in the first place.
Pr Ramesh shared that coming to understand who God is to us and who we are to God will determine how we handle the storms in our lives. However, not all storms are within our control. He also shared some practical principles on what we need to remember when such storms come.
27Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
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– Jason Law