Being Encouraged in God’s Word: Facing the Unexpected

By Maria Kneas
(an excerpt from Maria’s book, Strength For Tough Times, LT, 2010)

The Apostle Paul wrote nearly a fourth of the New Testament. He had amazing revelations about God. Much of our theology is based on his writings. Yet he said:

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. (1 Corinthians 13:9)

Paul includes himself among those who only know “in part.” If the Apostle Paul only knew in part, then no church, no denomination, and no individual has all the answers. All of us have areas where our understanding is limited.

What will we do if things don’t make sense to us? Will we become offended with God and abandon our faith? There was a time when many of Jesus’ followers became offended with Him and left Him. The twelve Apostles were troubled, but they were loyal and remained:

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:66-69)

There was a time when King Nebuchadnezzar commanded Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to bow down and worship a huge golden idol. If they refused, then they would be thrown into a fiery furnace. They answered the king:

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:17-18)

What will we do if the unthinkable happens? Will we be faithful to God no matter what, or will we only be faithful if things work out the way that we think they should? The Apostle Paul said:

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12, emphasis added)

Notice that Paul said “whom” (a person), not “what” (theology, understanding, Scripture interpretation, etc.) Paul’s primary confidence was in the person, Jesus Christ. And that is where our primary confidence needs to be. The Bible says:

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

This says that we can expect to have to face at least one “evil day.” You may know people who have had to face a number of them. But even though that time may be incredibly difficult, God will enable us to stand if we cooperate with Him. The apostle Paul said:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)

According to Jesus, tribulation is a normal part of life. It is to be expected. The important thing is that we can trust Jesus to get us through it. The Bible tells us:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)

What if something happens to us which doesn’t make sense to us? What if it seems to be contrary to what we were taught by our teachers, or pastor, or our Study Bible notes? What will we do?

Will we call God a liar? Or will we say that evidently our teachers didn’t fully understand (or adequately explain) that issue? Will we become bitter against God? Or will we choose to trust Him? Will we turn away from God? Or will we turn to Him for strength and comfort and wisdom?

God promised to make everything work out for our good if we love Him (Romans 8:28). When the pain and the tears come, will we trust God to bring good out of our situation?

We can ask God to increase our trust in Him and our love for Him. We can ask Him to make us faithful. We can ask Him to enable us to stand with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—to be determined to be faithful to our God no matter what happens to us and the people we love.

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet. (Habakkuk 3:19)

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