1610) Be Still (c)

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     (…continued)  Perfect understanding is not a requirement for faith.  In fact, faith often becomes stronger in those times when we do not understand God and His ways, and we are forced to “walk by faith and not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7) .  The Bible is filled with examples of people of faith clinging to God, even amidst their confusion about God’s ways of dealing with them.

     There were times in Jesus’ ministry when his popularity was fading away and the crowds were disappearing.  This happened because there was much confusion about who Jesus was and what he was doing here.  In one time of such perplexity, “many of his followers turned back and no longer followed Jesus” (John 6:66).  Even the disciples became confused and were apparently having second thoughts.  Jesus must have sensed this in them, because in the very next verse, Jesus said to the twelve disciples, “You do not want to leave me too, do you?”  Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  Where else is there to go for such a promise?  There are no other offers on the table.

     Many people will say at a time like this, “I cannot believe in a God who allows such suffering,” and will abandon faith.  It would be a mistake to think we could talk them out of that with any sort of complete or logical explanation.  But we can say, “I also do not always understand God, but what other hope is there?”  For myself, I do not believe in God because I see everything in the world working out so perfectly, as if I could ever comprehend God’s hand directing it every step of the way.  God does rule, does guide, and is active in His world; but not in any way that is directly obvious or understandable to me.  I do not believe in God because I understand all that.  I believe in God because I believe in Jesus.  I believe that in Jesus of Nazareth, God visited this troubled world and suffered in all the ways we suffer, even to the point of an agonizing death.  By believing in Jesus, we are offered strength to live now with the trouble and with the confusion, and we are given the promise of a life to come that does not end when this world ends for us.  Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  Earlier in that chapter, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, you will weep and you will mourn and you will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.  Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (John 16:20, 22).

     That’s enough for today.  I started out saying even though it seemed like something should be said today, I didn’t feel like saying very much.  Therefore I tried to say as little as possible of my own words, and instead read those words of the Bible that could speak to us.  “Be still,” the Lord says to us at times like this.  It’s not the time for easy explanations.  Even though there are some things that can be said, it is better today to just listen to God’s Word.  As Peter said to Jesus, “Where else should we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

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II Corinthians 5:6-7  —  So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

John 6:66-69  —  From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.  “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 16:20-23a  —  (Jesus siad), “Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.  You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.  A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.  In that day you will no longer ask me anything.”

John 16:33  —  (Jesus said), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

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Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.

–John 6:68