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“Be not afraid.”
“Be not afraid” is the most quoted phrase in the Bible. It was used by God more often in speaking to his people than any other words that he had to say.
He knew us so well.
Why did he have to tell us to not be afraid so often? Because this world is a scary place. It was yesterday, it is today, and it will be tomorrow.
I was always a worrier, even as a kid. I remember when my biggest worry was about the next test I was about to take in school. I laugh about that now.
All the worrying I ever did has not prevented one bad thing from actually happening, if in fact, it ever happened at all. All worrying did was suck the happiness out of my living for the moment.
Crazy isn’t it?
You know what I think obsessive amounts of worry reflect? A fundamental lack of faith in God Almighty.
It’s an unbelief that God does exist, that God does care for you, and that he is looking out for your best interest.
Does that mean if you believe in God that no bad thing will happen to you? No, I don’t think so.
In Hebrews, Chapter 12, verses 5 and 6 it says: “My sons, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord nor lose heart when he reproves you; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he receives.”
You know why? Because he knows how we work. He wrote the owner’s manual.
Think about it. If everything always went perfectly, then how many times would the average individual stop to talk with God? If everything went perfectly, then why would we even think about God?
I remember as a child when the people of Poland were living under a brutal communist regime. But they still had a persecuted Catholic Church defying those in control.
A journalist asked a Polish bishop, “What percent of the people attend Catholic Mass each week?”
The bishop replied, “About 90 percent.”
The journalist was amazed and said, “If that’s the case, and you’re living under communism, then how many do you think would go to Mass if all the threats were removed?”
The bishop didn’t blink and quickly replied “40 percent.”
I believe he was right. He knew that sometimes pain and suffering will bring you closer to God than prosperity, or even freedom, ever will.
What about when bad things happen to you and you didn’t do anything to bring it about?
It could still be God’s will.
Think about when Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers who were jealous of him. He did nothing to deserve it. He was loyal to God. Yet he ended up not just a slave, but spent a good amount of time in prison until God raised him up to be second only to the Pharaoh of all Egypt.
Later, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food during a famine in Canaan. They were dumbfounded to find he had the power of life and death over them, and they were much afraid.
You know what Joseph told them?
He told them he wasn’t mad because “It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you. For two years now the famine has been in the land, and for five more years tillage will yield no harvest. God, therefore, sent me on ahead of you to ensure for you a remnant on earth, and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance. So it was not really you, but God, who had me come here.”
Read that last verse again. It was God’s will that Joseph suffered in Egypt as first a slave, and later in prison, for the greater good.
God’s will sometimes causes you to suffer by the hands of others. You can see that in the story of Moses. Exodus Chapter 9, Verse 12 says, “but the Lord made the Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord foretold to Moses.”
God made the Pharaoh obstinate so he would not give into Moses’ demands to let the Israelites leave Egypt. I think it was to show the power and glory of God, though it would cause all concerned much suffering to do so. What would everyone concerned have learned if Moses had said, “Let my people go,” and Pharaoh had said “OK.”
That might even happen to you in your life. God could have made a boss or a person be unusually difficult to deal with. It could be because God wants you, or both, to learn something important, and in the end bring you both closer to him.
So how do you deal with all this?
I don’t think all bad things that happen in my life are really bad. It could be some part of God’s plan to change me and make me grow.
So, try to always remember that God is in control. He has your best interest at heart. He loves you. Get closer to him when times are tough. If you abandon God, then get back to him as quickly as you can, because he will never abandon you, no matter what.
Well, I wanted to share those words with you because I needed to hear them again myself.
You pray for me, OK? I’ll pray for you. Maybe we’ll both make it.