As Christians living on this earth, we are bound to face our own battles and fight. As long as life goes on, we will encounter pain and suffering. Nobody likes pain and suffering but we have to admit that they are part and parcel of life living on earth. There are times we encounter troubles and we find it hard to share them with our friends around us.
This is because sometimes they will give us a cold and unsympathetic response, while some will give us textbook answers such as “You need to pray and entrust them to God”. Many a times we find their comfort superficial and without any effect when it comes to helping us.
But today if we we understand that the Lord knows, it can help us find strength to face the difficulties and challenges ahead of us. Let us examine 2 aspect of our lives which the Lord knows.
Pt 1: The Lord Knows The Way That We Take
“But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall
come forth as gold.”- Job (Job 23:10)
Job was able to overcome the trials he encounter for he knew that the Lord knew the way which he takes, how he led his life on earth. Job did not understand why troubles came, and why he need to undergo sufferings. For he did not sin or commit a mistake, but yet the troubles arrives one after the other, and he understood that it was a trial from God.
How did Job arrive at this conclusion? That was because he knew that he is facing difficulties and they clause him pain. But yet as God understood his difficulties and suffering, God did not attempt to save him from his suffering. That is how he knew it was a test from God.
If we truly understand the fact that God knows our suffering and difficulties, we would know that God is walking beside us in the midst of our suffering. He is walking it with you, and we do not need to worry that the suffering will clause us to fail in faith. Neither should we worry that the suffering will go beyond our ability to bear. For God is watching, he knows how heavy our burden is and he would not add to what we cannot bear.
That is why Paul reminds us that God will not abuse us and purposely make life difficult. But yet as we think about this a question often comes to our mind”. “Why is it that we feel that we cannot bear our suffering?”
Indeed if the suffering is short, we will know we can overcome it. We can bear with it no matter how painful it is. For we know it is only a short temporary period of suffering. But what happens when our suffering is prolonged? That is when we feel weak and our hearts is weary .It is not that our burdens have increased, but our weariness is making the problem harder to bear.
That is why even the Psalmist reminds us, that God knows our weakness and tiredness
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca (weeping) ,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion”- Sons Of Korah (Ps 84:5-7)
Example of Jesus In Gethsemane
Let us examine one example given to us in the bible, let us think about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. At that point of time, he felt sorrowful, it was not just ordinary sorrow, he was sorrowful onto death. His sweat fell like drops of blood.
There are some who think that was Hematirosis, and it is a rare condition. It occurs when one is facing extreme stress and acute fear, at that point of time Luke tells us, an angel appeared and added strength onto him. As the result, Jesus found the strength to bear the bitter cup.
Indeed Jesus knows our weakness, he will add strength onto us as we face our difficulties. He can help us overcome our weakness and difficulties, we will emerge stronger than who we were previously. That is why Job said “When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”
This is one of the important reason why Job overcame his difficulties, for he knew that God is aware of our troubles, and he is our source of strength. Today our lives on earth in the journey of faith is just like the days where Israel walked in the wilderness during the time of Moses. It was God who called Israel to walk in the wilderness, it was a long and difficult journey. It is an empty an barren land, but Israel finished their journey by obeying God. For it is the path God told them to go, and God knew the way they walked. No matter how difficult and dangerous the path ahead is, God will help them through it. They can overcome all obstacles by relying on God, they found courage and finish the journey.
That is why we need to understand that God knows the way we walk and he will help us.
Pt 2: God Already Know What He Will Do
“Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and
seeing a great multitude coming
toward Him, He said to Philip,
“Where shall we buy bread,
that these may eat?”
But this He said to test him, for
He Himself knew what He would
do.”- John (Jn 6:5-6)
The four gospels all talked about the miracle of 5 loaves and 2 fishes. But only the book of John recorded this observation made by John. Jesus asked Philip “Where can we get bread for these to eat?”. He said it as a test for Phillip for he already knew what he would do. He wanted to see what his disciples would do.
Let us examine the reaction and actions taken by the disciples
Phillip’s Approach To The Test
“Two hundred denarii worth of
bread is not sufficient for them,
that every one of them may have
a little.” – Phillip (Jn 6: 7)
Phillip saw the need and the magnitude of the problem, he saw the little resources that he had. He had at the most, 200 denarii of coins, roughly 6.5 month worth of salary for a single worker. Even if he used all his money to buy bread, they can all but eat only a little bit of bread. Therefore he concluded that there is nothing he can do, why waste the money on what that cannot work?
Phillip is not wrong, his thinking and estimation are all sound and correct. His reaction is reasonable and fair but he forget to include one more aspect to his estimation. He had forgotten the authority and power of Jesus.
Even though Jesus is right beside him, he did not rely and trust in his power, we are guilty of doing this at times. Whenever we face a major problem and we knew that our strength is unable to overcome it, we forget to factor in the power of Jesus.
it is not that Phillip had never seen miracles performed by Jesus , he ought to have faith and rely on Jesus. But when Jesus tested him and told him to get bread to feed the multitude. He just made an estimate and concluded that it is something impossible to achieve. For he only had 200 denarii and it would be unwise to waste it on a solution that cannot help.
Phillip only relied on his mind, wisdom, foresight and planning, he made use of everything that is before his eyes but he neglected the power of Jesus. In fact Jesus already knew what he wanted to do, he just wanted to see what Phillip is thinking. He wanted to know how Phillip will face this problem and solve it.
Phillip did not past the test given to him by Jesus.
Andrew’s Approach To The Test
“There is a lad here who has five
barley loaves and two small fish,
but what are they among so many?”- Andrew (Jn 6:9)
Like Phillip, Andrew understood the magnitude of the problem, that is why he knew that 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes cannot help much. If Phillip and his 200 denarii cannot resolve this problem, how would 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes help?
But Andrew did not reject the little boys contribution, he knew that even though it did not help much, but Andrew did his part as a disciple, he took the little food and gave them onto the hand of Jesus. He wanted to see what Jesus will do with it, if he was willing to perform the miracle.
At that point of time, he did not know if Jesus would perform the miracle. But if the Lord is willing to do so, the problem will be resolved on the spot. Like Phillip he heard Jesus instructing Phillip to buy bread so they could eat. It appear as though Jesus was not prepared to perform the miracle. For Jesus already give his instruction and told them to find a solution and get bread.
But where can they find the money to do so? Even if they have the money, where can they buy bread in the wilderness? He did not care about the situation and facts around him, he just took the bread and fishes and gave it to Jesus. Andrew wanted to see that Jesus would do and this is something we need to learn.
The Problem Of Preaching The Gospel
Today we are often faced with a big problem, we can see many around us who are in need. But how can we find strength to deal with it? Our strength is so limited. This is true especially in the work of the gospel today, there are many who need to hear the gospel but there are so little who are willing to preach.
What is worst is that when we are prepared to share, we are plagued with many troubles and difficulties, if we cannot even help ourselves, how can we try to help others? What is more is that Jesus did not want us to preach only around us, we are suppose to carry this gospel message to the end of the world.
When we think of this we feel ashamed of ourselves, the work is so great and our power is so small. We did not just find sharing the gospel difficult, we even face crisis in our own faith. There are many around who find our gospel hard to believe, some even doubt and pose challenges to us. When we examine our own resources, indeed it look like 5 loaves and 2 fishes. We are limited by manpower, financial resources, and we know how limited we are.
So how can we resolve this problem? This is something we need to consider
Our Response To The Challenge
It is true that we only have 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes, and the number we need to attend to are more than 5000. In face of this fact, will we respond like Phillip and just give up? Many Christians today responded like this, for the more they tried to preach the more tired they become. It seem as though no matter how hard we try, the end result is the same. That’s is why we reply like Phillip “There is nothing we can do”.
Let us not be like this, let us learn to be like Andrew. Let us do what we can even though it is only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. They may not look like a great help in the midst of all these troubles. But we have a responsibility to place it in the hands of Jesus. Let him decide if he wants to perform miracles with it or not.
We will never know what Jesus would do with our 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. As we place this in his hand let us remind ourselves.. Jesus already knew what he will do. He is watching us to see what we will do.
Sometimes we tend to forget that Jesus already knew what he wanted to do. Sometimes we make response such as “If God will not do it, why must we put in our effort to do something?”
Indeed there are many times we wish God were to speak out just for once and everybody will listen to him. We know that if God is willing to help us, all our problem will be resolved. But yet we see God doing nothing, and we asked “Why is it that you are unwilling to help us?”
Some of us sigh helplessly”If God wont do anything, what’s the point of us doing something?”
As the result we start to behave like Moses who once pushed the blame onto God.
Learning To Work With God By Doing Our Part
“Why have You afflicted Your servant?
And why have I not found favor in Your
sight, that You have laid the burden
of all these people on me?
Did I conceive all these people?
Did I beget them, that You should say to me,
‘Carry them in your bosom, as a
guardian carries a nursing child,’
to the land which You swore to
their fathers?” – Moses (Num 11:11-12)
At that point of time, the children of Israel was complaining to Moses in the wilderness. They accused him of bringing them out there to die for they have no meat to eat. Moses was angry and he said this to God.
Sometimes we face with a similar problem, especially when we serve God. That is often the time we tell ourselves to give up and not care about the problem. We wanted to push the blame to God saying he did nothing to help us.
But today if we understood what John meant when he said God knew what he would do and he is watching us to see what we will do. We will choose to believe in him and rely on him .At the same time, we would do whatever within our means to help.
“I planted, Apollos watered,
but God gave the increase.”- Paul (1 Cor 3:6)
This is an important concept we need to understand whenever we face difficulties in life. More so when we are working for God. Whenever we face difficulties, let us remember these words. Let us remember that we can only do the job of planting and watering. It is beyond our ability to let it grow.
God only wanted us to do what we can, to our best ability. It doesn’t matter if we are facing life’s problem or difficulties in service, God will not make us do what we cannot do, he want us to work with him.
We can only do what we can do, that is to plant and to water. It is God who let it grow. The result is beyond us only God can do it. This is an important concept we need to hold, both when serving God and facing life problem.
Learning To Rely On God Through Prayer
That is why today whenever we face difficulties in life and in service. We need to know what we can do within our power. We need to do them and entrust what is beyond our control to God. And God will help us. We must be willing to place our 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes before God.
But as we say this, some may accuse me of giving them the “textbook answer”.
Some may even retort “What is it that we can do? What is our responsibility?”
The most basic of all is to pray to God and tell him our problem. But yet now as I said this, I would be accused of giving another "textbook answer”. For many of us think that prayers are not effective. But why is it so?
One of the most common response we get it
“Look, I repeated my request again and
again to God. I waited but God did not
take any action.”
This is one of the typical response where we conclude and say “What is the point of prayer?”.
Maybe we should approach this dilemma in a different direction. Let us examine ourselves rather than God. Let us ask if we are praying correctly. Let us examine some of the prayers made by the ancient saints.
EG 1 : Hezekiah Prayer Before God
2 Kings 18 and 19 talks about a King named Hezekiah. He encountered a huge problem as a king. During that time the armies of Assyria came and attacked him. The enemy is lead by a general known as Sennacherib. They told Hezekiah that their God will not save them from the Assyrians and they have a point. For if war broke out between Judah and Assyrian, Judah would not be able to defend herself.
Therefore the enemy wrote a long letter, telling Judah not to trust in God.
In face of such problem Hezekiah only did one thing
“And Hezekiah received the letter
from the hand of the messengers,
and read it; and Hezekiah went up
to the house of the Lord, and
spread it before the Lord” – Chronicler (2 Kings 19:14)
If we read his prayer from 2 Kings 19:15-19 we can see a few points. Hezekiah knew whom he believed in and who he was praying to. He was talking to the God who created earth, the one who made kings and rulers, kingdom and nations. He is the true and living God, different from the gods who the other nation worship.
Hezekiah’s faith is similar to the faith of David when he faced Goliath. He pleaded with the Lord to save Judah and God indeed answered his prayer. That very night an angel was sent into the enemies camp and all the soldiers was killed overnight. Sennacherib had to return home with no army to accompany him.
Hezekiah’s prayer would not have succeeded if he did not know whom he is praying to. Hezekiah also did not demand God to do what he want, he just pleaded for his help. Hezekiah’s prayer made us consider 2 question.
1. When we pray, do we know whom we are speaking to?
2. Do we pray to God giving him orders or do we ask God to help us in his way?
EG 2 : The Prayer Of The Early Church In Face Of Difficulty
We shared earlier that no human being enjoy encountering difficulty in life. Whenever we are in trouble in our prayer we tend to ask God to take our difficulty away. But yet many a time God did not seem to accede to our request. Our problem continue to happen, eventually we become discourage and we say that prayer didn’t work.
But have we wonder if the ancient saints ever ask God to take away their problem? When the church began in the book of Acts, there were many miracles that are perform. Yet the Jews did not believe, they threatened the apostles not to teach the name of Jesus.
Therefore the church gathered to pray about the problem, but did they ask God to remove the problem? “
“Now, Lord, look on their threats,
and grant to Your servants that
with all boldness they may speak
Your word, by stretching out Your
hand to heal, and that signs and
wonders may be done through
the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” – The church (Acts 4:29-30)
The church did not ask God to take away their troubles, but they ask God to grant them boldness to continue to testify for Jesus in the midst of these problem. They pleaded with God to show more miracles to help hem so that they can continue to preach in the midst of the trouble.
We knew from history that their situation only got worst, disciples were killed and imprisoned. Yet the gospel continue to prosper in the midst of these persecution. The Holy Spirit grant them boldness courage and bravery to stand up in the midst of these difficulties and trials.
We have the right to ask God to take trouble away from us through prayer. But sometimes God allowed it to happen, and sometimes God just hoping that we can pray to him for help, for more strength to handle, and the courage to continue to serve him.
If our prayer is according to his will, he will grant the strength for us to continue. For we see the disciples eventually preaching the gospel far and wide.
EG 3: Making Plans And Prayer
Very often we pray to God asking for help, and when we do so, we stop doing and started watching. We sit there passively waiting for miracles and Gods direction. When God remain silent, we continue to wait and do nothing. At the end of it, we become discourage, we stop praying and we no longer trust God.
We may pass comment such as “We have waited on the Lord, but why did he not give us strength? Didn’t Isaiah tell us that those who wait on the Lord will receive strength?”
“Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,”
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”- Isaiah (Is 40:30-31)
But do we really understand what it means to wait onto the Lord? Waiting on the Lord is not something passive. We need to continue to walk,than we will not faint. We need to run and then we would not be weary. You have to continue walking and running, then we can mount out with wings like the eagle and receive strength.
Praying to God does not mean that we no longer do anything. We are suppose to continue to make plans and to entrust our plans to God and let him guide us. That is how Apostle Paul relied on God to help him.
“Now when they had gone through
Phrygia and the region of Galatia,
they were forbidden by the Holy
Spirit to preach the word in Asia.
After they had come to Mysia, they
tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit
did not permit them.
So passing by Mysia, they came down
to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul
in the night. A man of Macedonia stood
and pleaded with him, saying, “Come
over to Macedonia and help us.”” – Luke (Acts 6:6-9)
Paul was eager to preach the word of God and he knew it is within Gods will. But God had forbidden him to go to some of the places he wanted to go. But Paul did not passively just pray and wait, he continued to make plans. He did not stop preaching, nor did he just pray and do nothing.
As Paul continue to move , he asked God to guide him. Finally he saw the vision of the Macedonian man. Then he headed toward Macedonia and started to preach.
Waiting for God is not a passive work, we do not just wait and do nothing. As we pray to God to guide us, we need to continue to put in our effort to do what we can do. Eventually God will move us through his spirit and guide us where to go.
WE need to remember that God plan may not be what we want, that is when we need to be submissive and respond to the calling of God.
Conclusion So Far
So far we studied that the Lord knows 2 things and we need to keep them in our hearts.
Firstly he knew the way we walk, he knows our faith our strength as well as our weakness. IF we rely on him, he will not allow us to fall in our trials. For he know how much we can take and he will not give us a test we cannot handle
Secondly, we learnt that God already knew what he wanted to do. Many a times he wanted to see how we would react to his test.
We also discussed one of the most basic thing we can do is to pray about our problems. We covered 3 aspect of prayer. Firstly we need to know whom we are praying to and rely on him. Secondly we need to ask God for strength to overcome our difficulty instead of asking for the problem to be removed. Lastly we need to continue to work and do what we can while we entrust our problem to him in prayer.
May God help us in all our difficulties and give us strength to finish our walk of faith.