Like many of you, I don’t look forward to turning on the financial news these days. These are troubling times. If you’re anywhere near my age, or about to send your kids to college, you can’t be happy when you see your retirement plans or college funds seemingly going up in smoke.
But as I got on my knees in my library yesterday morning in my devotional time, God really convicted me—in a way that was unmistakably from Him. As I started through my laundry list of thanking God for the blessings He’d given me, praying for my family and for my own, personal concerns, God stopped me short. I felt convicted this was no way to start my prayer time. No, I needed to start by offering myself to God, to be fully used by Him.
It was as if God told me that my priorities were wrong. He told me I shouldn’t be praying for myself. That my job was to carry out the responsibilities He’s given me. And if I did that, He’d take care of my needs. God raised me up, I realized, to speak to His Church. And that’s what I should be about doing. Encouragement in tough times.
Not two hours later, I arrived for an appointment at the hospital to get the results of a biopsy (which, happily, turned out well).
When I arrived at the reception desk, I was greeted by a nurse—a lovely woman—who had an enormous smile on her face. A fellow believer, she told me she had been waiting at the desk to meet me. As we talked, I asked her how she was handling things. She said her husband had been heavily invested in real estate. When the housing market melted down, they lost everything they had—their home, cars, retirement, everything. And she—she appeared to be her 40s—had to go back to work to support the family.
When she finished, she looked at me with a radiant smile and said, “It’s been tough, but I have no fear. The Lord has a plan for me. I am totally at peace.”
I was nearly speechless. This was no chance meeting. Here, right before my eyes, was living confirmation of what God convicted me of hours earlier. All I could do was thank her for telling me, and then pray with her for a moment. Scripture tells us we often meet angels unawares.
But I couldn’t help but be encouraged. Nobody who encounters this woman’s trust in God would ever deny the power of faith. While many are walking around wringing their hands, she is living with “unutterable and exalted joy.” That kind of faith changes a person, convinces the skeptic, and provides a stunning witness to God’s love in Christ—even in tough times.
That’s the kind of faith God calls us to. Complete and utter trust in Him. It’s easy to be a believer when everything is going well. The real test is when things fall apart.
I know how hard it is to have nothing: I remember the days of the Great Depression. I’ve been in prison. But in the end, and especially in times like this, I know that in Christ, I can be content in all things.
Sure, it hurts to see your life’s savings or your job threatened. It’s part and parcel of being human in a fallen world. But this is a time when Christians must be different and show it to the world. Maybe that’s what God intends to do with this crisis. Maybe He’ll use it to banish the “health and wealth gospel” and let the world see how the genuine faith of God’s people shines all the brighter in the darkness.
I pray that you might hear God’s word as I did yesterday morning. Be not afraid! And then live with the kind of faith that that nurse in the hospital showed me.
From BreakPoint®, October 8, 2008, Copyright 2008, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. “BreakPoint®” and “Prison Fellowship Ministries®” are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship