Dealing with Fear, Anxiety, and Stress – Part 2

The verse comes from a very famous well-known doctor, a guy by the name of Paul Tournier who was a Swiss physician, and this comes from Phillip Yancey’s book, Where is God When it Hurts. Tournier says, “Only rarely are we the masters of events in our lives, but we are responsible for our reaction to the event, to the events that come into our lives,” and he says, “what counts is the way a person reacts in the face of suffering, because when it comes, a positive, active, creative reaction will develop us. A negative one will stunt the growth in our lives. The right response at the right moment may determine the course of a person’s life.” He goes on to say, in his medical practice, he saw wounded people every day and he was quick to admit that suffering may push a person towards brokenness and not toward personal growth. That, in fact, was why he moved away from the traditional pattern of diagnosis and treatment and began to address his patients’ emotional and spiritual needs, as well, because he felt an obligation to help them channel suffering as a transforming agent in their lives.”

You know, it caused me to remember the words of a very wise man who shared this with me. He said, you know, we, as human beings, seem to seek God out of two motives. One, because it’s a priority in our lives, or number two, as a response to pain. That’s what C.S. Lewis says, God uses pain, it’s like a megaphone He uses to rouse a deaf world, but the key is how we respond to it, how we react to it.

The second quote, and I’m not sure who this came from, I wrote this down a number of years ago, but I think it’s good. It says, and this is really at the heart of what I want to talk about this morning, and the quote goes like this. “We must remember that God can solve all of our problems. He is the solution, but instant solutions to our problems are not important. What is most important to God is how we respond to our struggles.”

And furthermore, I think I would add that I believe how we respond to the trials and struggles and the storms of life impacts the way He responds to us in the midst of these struggles. Now please don’t get me wrong; what I just said can easily be manipulated and we can’t manipulate God. We shouldn’t think, if I respond correctly, God, in turn, will give me what I want and will cause the storms to go away. I mean, you can’t put God in a box, but I do know this, it does make a difference. Scripture is very clear. It does make a difference when we respond to storms with a real trust in Him, and when we get to the end of our time together this morning, I’m going to look, we’re going to look at how God responds to men and women who walk by faith.

But first, I think it’s important to look at how we should respond to the storms when they enter into our lives. Now, I think all of you recognize that when we find ourselves in one of life’s storms, we are called to do our part. You know, whatever we can do to remedy a problem that enters our lives, we should do it. We should be very proactive, but I think we all realize, as Tournier said, so often the events that come into our lives, do what we may, there are just a number of things, when it gets right down to it, we have no control over. And there will be many events in our lives where the consequences, we can’t control and it’s out of our hands, and that’s when we’re called to operate by faith.

And so, what I want to do this morning is talk a little bit about what that means. Now, I’m going to share an illustration that I’ve used a good bit; some of you’ve heard it, some of you haven’t, but it’s very pertinent to what we’re talking about this morning, as far as what is faith. Well, the illustration I like to use and I’ll use Drew here as my guinea pig. Here, if I asked Drew, or told Drew that I have something in my pocket, and it’s in my hand. I’m holding it right now, what is it? All he could do, because we’ve not had a conversation about it, all he could do is speculate; your keys, your cell phone, your change, just any number of small things that could fit in your pocket, and all he could do is guess, and if he says, I think it’s this, that would be speculation. That’s what blind faith is and a lot of people live with blind faith. It’s kind of like, I’m sure everything’s just going to turn out for the best, just because I just believe that. Now if I said to Drew, in all seriousness, I have a five dollar bill in my pocket, in my hand. At that point, Drew could know what’s in my hand even though he can’t see it, and listen to this, this is really important, and the reason he can is because he is extending confidence in what I have told him, and that’s what faith is. Extending confidence in what God has said and promised to us.

Now, when I take it out of my pocket and he sees it, that’s true knowledge, which is what God promises His people in Heaven. It says we will see God as He really is, in I John, we will be in His presence. We won’t need to operate by faith anymore, but until then, that’s what we’re called to do, extending confidence, in what God has said and promised to us.

Let me give you a great example of this in the Bible. This is about Abraham but it’s in the book of Romans. Paul uses Abraham as an example. He points to Abraham as an example of a man who walked by faith but listen to this. This is Romans. If you’ve got your Bibles and want to follow me, Romans chapter 4, starting in verse 18. “In hope against hope, Abraham believed so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken or promised by God. So shall your descendants be.” But listen to this without becoming weak in faith, he contemplated his own body, in other words, when he looked at his circumstances, it looked pretty bleak up for he and his wife to have children. It says, without becoming weak, that he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb, and yet, with the respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

So, you see, in verse 20 and 21, I think some very important insight into the issue of faith. Abraham just didn’t say, I believe that I’m going to have this great nation, all my descendants, instead, what did he hang his hat on? The promise that God had made to him, because true legitimate faith must have a foundation, and the foundation of our faith is built upon God’s revelation in the person of Christ, and His revealed Word. And here at verse 20 and 21, Abraham was responding to that which God had revealed to him in a promise, and said he didn’t waver in unbelief. You see this throughout scripture. One of my favorites that we look at is John 14. Remember when Jesus says, Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me. In my father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. Again, Jesus says, believe this. Why? Because, this is what I’ve told you, which leads to, I think, a really good question. Do you and I believe Jesus is trustworthy? Can He be trusted? I mean that’s the heart of this whole issue of faith.

So, faith is simply I responding to divine revelation, extending confidence in what God has said and promised to you and I, His people. He makes certain promises to His people, and it’s trusting what God has said, and not what we see in our circumstances that is so important, because we’re told to walk by faith and not by sight and that’s very difficult for us to do because we operate, it seems to me, clearly just in this visible world, but there is a spiritual, supernatural realm, and God is sovereign over what happens in the visible world, and so it’s so crucial that we know what He’s committed to us and what He has promised to us, His people. And this is very important to understand as we proceed this morning.

So, a storm enters our lives. What do you do? You know, you you lose your largest client, your business is drying up, the economy goes into the tank, you find out something about one of your children. That causes a lot of pressure, because when your children struggle, or you get a phone call from your physician, you find out you have cancer, I mean, I think every single one of us realizes we are only a phone call away from a major storm or crisis entering our lives. So, what do you do? The starting place, in my opinion, I love the 121st Psalm but the first verse is, I think, rather significant when he says, I lift up my eyes to the mountains, from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made Heaven and earth.

It’s interesting, if you look in both the Old and the New Testaments ,consistently, God refers to Himself as our helper, or our help, particularly in time of trouble, and that interesting. That’s how He refers to Himself, to us. I mean, you go to back to the book of John the 14th chapter, in the New American Standard, He refers three times to the Holy Spirit who He’s going to send us, He refers to Him as the helper. Then NIV calls Him the counselor, but the literal translation is one who strengthens. He says, that’s what I want, to be in your life. And you know, I think sometimes our perspective is, I’ll let you know if I need You, but He’s there, and when a storm enters our lives, we either lift our eyes to God and bring our fears into His venue, or we gaze at our circumstances, we see them from our perspective, and we carry this burden around on our shoulders, and let me tell you what. When we do that, that’s when we begin to sink emotionally, and it can be quite a downward spiral, and it can easily lead to despair and depression, and anger and bitterness.

I want to share with you a couple of interesting verses that support what I’ve just told you. This first one I think is just critical. The book of Hebrews, chapter 4 verse 16, listen to this, therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Last week, I talked about God’s grace which means God enabling us to do that which we cannot do ourselves. Divine enablement. Let me put it in simple terms. It’s God’s strength, His power. In Hebrews 13:9, it says, it’s good for the heart to be strengthened by God’s grace, but it says, we have got to draw near to the throne of grace, and then he goes and says, so that we might receive mercy, and do it with confidence, but we might receive mercy, and find grace to help, there’s that word again, to help in time of need.

And then, in the Book of Isaiah, the 26th chapter, this is what we’re told. The steadfast of mind ,you will keep God, he’s saying, you will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting rock.

Now, I want to go back to what, the steadfast of mind, he says, I will keep in perfect peace. I want to read that from the Amplified Bible. The Amplified merely amplifies on the Hebrew language. That’s the problem in translating Hebrew and Greek into English is, so often, we miss the richness and really, the meaning, of what’s behind it, and the Amplified Bible, which is a great resource, this is what it says in verse 3, the translation, You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind is stayed and focused on You, because he commits himself to You and he leans on You and he hopes confidently in You. You see the steadfast of mind, what he’s saying, the steadfast of mind is the person who sets his eyes upon God, he doesn’t gaze at his circumstances, and he doesn’t let his heart be weighed down by what’s going on in his life.

Now, you may be saying, so, what are you saying, when a storm enters our lives, what does he do? The man in Isaiah 26, he sets his mind on God and what is true of God and what God has promised. As David said, I lift my eyes to the mountains, I bring it into God’s venue, and the best place to start is what we covered in detail in session two. What’s true of God and the promises that He’s made to us. And just in summary, we got this all from the scriptures, we are of great value to Him. We are of great value to God, and as He said in Jeremiah, I’ve loved you with an everlasting love, and He says this, I am sovereign over the circumstances in your life, and if there is a storm there, I’ve allowed it to be there. And I can remove it whenever I want. He says, behold, I’m the Lord the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me? And then He makes this magnificent promise in Romans 8:28. You can know this to be true. I am causing all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to My purpose.

Guys, this is the basis for experiencing God’s peace, and we can rest in that, we can trust in Him, we can trust in the fact that God is working in my life, and this is the basis for peace. Remember, we talked at length, I think it’s very meaningful, about when there is purpose in painful situations, when you see the purpose behind it, it transforms the pain, it transforms what you’re experiencing, but if you see it as purposeless, all you can do is shake your fist at God and get angry. And then there’s just a host of other Scriptures. I’ll just mention them, we’re not gonna look at them. I may read one. Isaiah 41:10 is one of my favorites. Deuteronomy 31:6, but, you know, if you ever go through a major storm, I strongly encourage you to go to the book of Genesis and read verses chapters 37 through 50 on the life of Joseph, and you see the whole picture but the first half of his life he went through hell, and yet you see how God used it and you see how he responded and you see what a solid individual he was and how God used him mightily. But one of my favorites that I refer to often, and I’ll just read it to you because it’s so encouraging, this is Isaiah 41:10. Listen to this. Do not fear, this is God’s talking to us, do not fear, for I am with you, do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely, I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Before I shift gears, I want to look at one other section of Scripture, and these are Jesus’s words because they’re so appropriate for what we’ve just talked about, and this is from Matthew 11, verses 28, 29, and 30. You’re probably familiar with them but most people read this and they don’t have a clue what He was saying. Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I’ll give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls for My yoke is easy and My burden is light. He’s talking about, He uses the term, put on His yoke; do you even know what a yoke is? We don’t even use yokes anymore, but a yoke was something you would put on to animals so that they would work together in unison, they would work together to accomplish an objective, and so, when we put on God’s yoke, what we’re really doing, what He’s saying is we’re declaring to Him, Lord I am committed to seeing Your objectives in these circumstances come to pass in my life. Whatever You’re trying to accomplish in my life, Lord, I’m with You. Now, this, again, is extending confidence in Him but what does He say? When we come forth with that attitude and that kind of commitment in the midst of the storms, He promises, I’ll provide rest and strength.

Remember the first session when we met, we looked at the life of David, you talk about a guy facing an unbelievable crisis. He and his men had come back from battle and the Amalekites had come and had burned their little community and taking their families, their wives, and their children, and if that wasn’t bad enough, David’s men were so upset they were looking for somebody to blame, they point the finger at him. They talked of stoning him and if you remember what it says, David didn’t panic, he didn’t get angry at God, it says, he strengthened himself in the Lord, and that’s what we’ve just talked about. How to really strengthen yourself in the Lord, how to find peace and confidence ,but that’s not all we’re supposed to do, I mean, David just didn’t say, okay, I feel strong. The second thing is he went to God and says what would You have Me to do? He brought the circumstances before God and really prayed about it and God directed him and that’s really what I want to look at now. I’m convinced what I’ve just shared with you, because I can say this experientially, if, in fact, we will focus on Who God is and what He’s promised in the midst of a storm, we will find His peace, but then, that’s not all that we’re called to do.

The most famous verses, I think, are the most prominent verses in the Bible that have to do with hardship and struggle and fear and worry, this in the book of Philippians and you may be familiar with this. It’s Philippians chapter 4 verses 6 and 7. I’m going to read them to you. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with Thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Here he says something quite important. He says, bring the issues that are causing the fear in your life, bring them to Me, but notice what He says. But do it with Thanksgiving. Isn’t that interesting?

What an act of faith and trust to be able to say, Lord, though I don’t understand what You’re doing, I thank You for the way You’re gonna use this in my life for my ultimate good. I thank You. That’s radical, that’s counter-intuitive, but, you know, if you think that’s radical, you ought to hear what James has to say. He says, consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance ,and let endurance have it’s perfect result so that you might be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. And that word perfect means that you might be mature. That’s what God desires; that maturity of the soul, that strength, so that spiritually, you’re lacking in nothing, and James says, because of that, we ought to rejoice and be happy when difficulty enters our lives. Again, very radical, but, you know, it’s important to realize from these verses in Philippians that we’re not just to throw up a prayer, you know, I’m getting in my car, I just throw up a prayer. I think he’s talking about serious prayer about the issues you’re facing. Blocking out quality time and take it before God.

It’s interesting, you know, I’ve been reading in the book of Mark, and for the first time I noticed this, because it’s also in Luke chapter 5, that once Jesus’ ministry really got going, it says, the news began to spread, and He would walk, He’d wake up, wherever they were sleeping, and everybody would be converging on Him. They’d bring the sick, the poor, from dawn to dusk, I mean, you talk about a lot of stress in your life, and that’s what it said in Luke chapter 5 verse 15, but it’s interesting, the sixteenth verse says this. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness to pray. I mean. Jesus. in the midst of a very pressure-packed life. and also says, He also had the stress of knowing what lay in front of Him, the cross, and He talked about it, He says, I’m distressed about this, I’ve got a baptism to undergo, and He said, I’d just as soon go ahead and do it. But He would consistently slip away to pray about the issues in His life, and guys, if Jesus needed to pray, I mean, think about us. Of course, the question is, well what do you pray about? You know, in the midst of a storm, here, you know, you talk about thanking God, considering it all joy, what do you, how do you pray as David prayed? And I think that’s where you want to be careful, because in James it says, James 4 verse 3, it says, you don’t have because you don’t ask, and the problem is, sometimes when you do ask, you ask with the wrong motives.

And so, I guess what I would say, guys, it is crucial to remember if God is causing all things to work together for our good, we want to make sure His purposes and objectives for our lives come to pass. And so, I think it’s important to think and pray maturely. I mean, maybe we need to press very specifically about the issue or, as David prayed, Lord, I pray for your guidance. Psalm 31:3, Thou art my rock and my fortress, for Thy name sake Thou will lead me and guide me. How often do we seek His leadership, His guidance in our lives. We may need to ask for wisdom. We may be just clueless. In James 1:5 it says, if any man asks for wisdom, God will give it to him, and maybe it’s just Lord, I’m not sure how to pray, but I bring the issue that I’m struggling with that’s causing this fear and I give it to You and I trust You with the outcome. In other words, I surrender this to you. I mean, that’s what Mary did. Here’s this young girl, getting ready to be married to Joseph, is told that you’re pregnant, and back then, they could have stoned her. I mean, remember what she says? She says, behold, I am the bond slave of the Lord, may it be done to me according to Your word. You seen this even in Jesus’ life as He faces the cross. He says, Lord, if there’s any way for this cup to pass Me by, I pray that it will. But then He said, but just in the same breath, but not that My will will be done, but that Your will is done. You see that when it gets right down to it, that you see this trust and surrender. It’s important to remember, guys, that, as sheep, we are not burden-bearing creatures. We’re to transfer our cares into His realm of responsibility. That’s what it says in 1st Peter 5:7. Throw all your worries on Him for the Lord cares for you.

Now, finally, a real big part of this, I mean, after we’ve done all that, and we’ve responded just as I’ve kind of laid out this morning, then we’re left with something very important, and that is, we have to wait, we have to wait for God to move. I mean, we always want instant results, but you have to wait. In fact, this waiting is a big part of trusting. Listen to what David says. I would have despaired unless I believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage, yes, wait for the Lord.

Author Betsy Childs says this quite well. Listen to this; it’s pretty good. She says, “We will all have times of waiting, whether we like it or not. Our choice is either to pursue the disposition of quiet waiting or chafe in frustration against the mantle we’ve been given to wear, and though waiting quietly may go against our tendency in us to fix and control circumstances and people, waiting allows us to step back and watch God do what we cannot. In stark contrast to the maxim, God helps those who help themselves, the prophet Isaiah tells us the truth. He says,” and this is a great verse, this is Isaiah 64, ‘for since ancient times, no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any, but any God besides You, Who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.’ You know, this is the God that we serve, the God Who asks us to wait while He works. The waiting will not last forever, but it is not to be avoided or short-circuited. There is not some level of sanctification that when reached makes waiting unnecessary. Let us not desire to graduate beyond waiting. Let us seek to know God in our waiting, because remember what He has said, no eye has seen, and no ear has perceived, any God like Him.”

I want to wrap this up real quickly by going back to what I said at the beginning. When we respond to the storms of life in faith, when we respond correctly, as Isaiah says, He will act on our behalf. I guess the question is this morning. do you believe that? Do you believe that? I mean, have you ever really stepped out in faith and allowed God to work and move in your circumstances in your life? When He does, and this is what I want to close with and wrap this up, He will he will do one of two things, or He’ll do both. One of two things or both, and let me let me share what I mean by that. The first thing He may do, and what we generally hope He will do is that He’ll move in the circumstances that are causing the fear and anxiety. That’s one of the options. He may do that. Remember what Drayton said when he was with us? He said, every time Jesus performed a miracle or something, not every time, but so often, He would say, your faith has made you well.

Let me give you a just a real good example of this in Mark chapter 7. If you’ve ever read this incident in the New Testament, it’s always kind of troubling, and I don’t have time to really go through and explain to you, but just remember, Jesus knew what He was doing, He knew what he was doing, and this is kind of interesting, because, if you look at this carefully, you’re talking about a stress-filled life and it says, Jesus got up and went away for a while, from there to the region of Tyre, and when he entered a house, he wanted no one to know of it. In other words, He wanted some peace and quiet, yet he could not escape notice. But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Gentile of the Syro-Phoenician race, in other words, she was not Jewish, she was not one of the lost sheep of Israel, as Christ would call them, and she came to Him and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. She didn’t just ask Him, it says she kept asking, and kept asking, and kept asking, and He said to her, this was always the troubling sentence, He said to her, let the children be satisfied first. Talking about the Jewish people, for it’s not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs, but she answered and said to Him, yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs, and He said to her, because of this answer, go, the demon has gone out of your daughter. And going back to her home she found the child lying on the bed the demon having left. Now, again, there’s a good understanding of what Jesus was doing, but let me just say this, it seems that He was kind of harsh on this woman, and you know, if you think about it, there are times, I mean, Jesus was harsh with a lot of people. The Pharisees, whom He loved. His disciples, who He loved; He did everything with a heart of love, but there are times, guys, that it’s gonna appear that God’s being harsh with us, and we naturally think, you know, I don’t really deserve this. This doesn’t seem to be consistent with a God Who, of love, that I read about in the Scriptures. But what’s important in this situation is, look how this woman responded, even to the harshness. She was persistent, she was persistent. That persistence, that steadfast of mind, that persistence, we need to have. She was humble, she humbled herself. I mean, most people, if He was referring to her as a dog might’ve said, well, the heck with you, she humbled herself and she truly looked to Christ. She trusted Him, and it says in verse 29, because of your answers, because of your response, your daughter will be healed, or made well, the demons will be gone. That’s one possible response. God moves and works in our circumstances when we trust Him.

But there’s another incident in the New Testament where that doesn’t happen. In one sense, something better happens, and that’s when Paul, in II Corinthians, says, because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh. In other words, Paul is saying, God has put something in his life, we don’t know what it is, but he called it a thorn in his flesh, and it’s interesting, he said, and God did this to keep me from exalting myself. In other words, he’s saying, there’s a purpose in this, and then he goes on to say, concerning this, I implored the Lord three times that it would leave me, that he would remove it from my life, and God said to him, no, instead He says, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. And Paul goes on to say, most gladly, therefore, I’ll rather boast about my weakness, so the power of Christ may dwell with me. In other words, he’s saying instead of removing the painful circumstance from your life, instead I’m gonna give you My grace, My strength, My power, and I think Paul, in one sense, is saying, I mean, he even goes on and says, you know, I’d rather boast about my weakness so that I might experience the power of Christ in me. I believe Paul experienced that peace that surpasses all understanding.

It was interesting, after Drayton spoke two weeks ago today, he called me that morning and he said, he spoke on faith, walking by faith, he said, you know, I left out one of the most critical pieces of Scripture in my talk, and I said, what’s that, he said, it’s in Romans five, and just yesterday morning, another guy brought up to me, he had written it out, Romans 5, verses 1 through 5, he says God has really used this in my life as it relates to difficulty. And so, I felt like, well, what does Romans 5 say? It talks about how, by faith, God unleashes His grace into our lives and then he goes on to say, and not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance and perseverance brings proven character and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint. So, we see, basically, we have access to God’s grace through faith. So, listen to this. In one sense, this is so significant because, you know, when God moves in your circumstances, think about it, and it works out the way we hope they would work out, you know, you’re always wondering, was that God really doing that or was that just, it just kind of happened that way. But when you experience His grace and His power and you experience a peace that surpasses all understanding, I believe that is so significant because He becomes more of a reality in our lives. He moves from being a concept to being real, because I can promise you this, if you ever experience that peace that surpasses all understanding, you know this, I can’t generate that myself. It’s got to be from Him. It comes from Him. In one sense, that’s, I think, more important, but you know what He also may do? He also may do both. Give you His strength, he give you His grace, He’ll give you His power, and then He also might, at some point later, move in your circumstances, and the reason I share this is because that’s what happened to me.

A number of years ago, very painful circumstances in my life, and I would take what we’ve talked about this morning and really focus my eyes on Who God is and what He promised, in what He was doing in my life and I experienced His peace, but often I’d wake up the next morning, all of a sudden, you know, that anxiety was back, that fear was back, so I would go through the process again, and strengthened myself in the Lord, as David did, and find that strength and this went on for several weeks, and then finally, I’ll never forget this, I woke up one morning and that peace was there, and you know what? It never left me. The circumstances hadn’t changed at all but that peace was there and interestingly, a couple of weeks later, the circumstances changed. But you know what? It really didn’t matter because the fear had left weeks before. The storm, in one sense, was gone.

Guys, in conclusion, I’ll leave you with this thought. We’re told in Philippians 1:6 and in Philippians 2:13, and this is a promise to all believers, God is working in your life. He commits to work in our lives, He’s committed to developing our spiritual lives, He’s committed to developing our character, He’s committed to the development of our faith, and He uses a lot of different means to do that, including pain and suffering. I mean, we’re told in Hebrews 5:8, even Jesus learned obedience from the things in which He suffered. And, as someone shared with me, God uses the storms of life like wooden forms that you pour concrete into. He uses them to mold and shape us, and we’ve got to be trusting Him in the midst of them in order to be developed and strengthened. And if He removes the form, the circumstances, too soon, we will not hold the new shape. As I look out into this room, not only do I see a room full of men, I see a room full of fathers. I realize some of you have already kind of done your job in raising your children, some of you are kind of like me, we’re in the process, but when you think about raising your children, the one thing you desire is to see healthy development in their lives. Why? Because you know it will lead to a high quality of life, and in the same way, God, our Heavenly Father, wants to develop us so that He can bless us even more, and so that we might live a high quality of life that He so desires for each one of us. Let’s close in prayer.


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