Asking, trusting in God’s mercy

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:21-28)

What in the faith of that woman was great? I asked myself that question many times. I don’t know if I have the answer, but there is something she had that is indeed great: she knew that she was unworthy, and she came to receive mercy, trusting in God’s faithfulness.

She came calling Jesus Lord and Son of David. She acknowledged His power and His compassion, basically telling Him: “You have the power and the good will to help me so I cry for mercy.” When Jesus rejected her at first, she answered by asking for help. Then He called her “dog” and she said: “Yes, I am a dog, but I am your dog so I am expecting your mercy.” She never doubted of God’s goodness.

Generally, we don’t persevere as she did. When God seemed to push us away, we are desperate and it becomes difficult to pray, or at least to pray for that specific thing we want so much. Or we are frustrated as if God owes us something.  Faith believes that God has the power to do anything and rests on His mercy to ask Him again and again, trusting that His mercy will never fail.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

So anxious!?

Do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. Isaiah 45:6-7

There are so many reasons to be anxious. Everything we do and say, everything we are and have , all the things we fail to do and say, all the things we are not and don’t have are reasons to be anxious. I have been so anxious lately, anxious about my past, anxious about my present and anxious about my future. And God, in His amazing grace, reminded me how foolish I was to be anxious. After all I am just a creature. (Matthew 6:25-34)

The Holy Spirit convinces me that I need to stop being anxious, not because everything is going to happen as I want, but because I am not the one in control (Proverbs 19:21).

I cannot change the past and decide for the future. I can plan, dream, but at the end there is only one being that can give a meaning to my past, decide for my present and build my future, God. Only Him has the power to do something about anything. And the good news is I am His creature, and more His daughter.

The one who decides of victories and failures (Proverbs 21:31-32), the one who says a word and things happen (Psalm 33:9, Lamentations 3:17, Romans 4:17), is my Father and He cares for me. I am His and He is going to make everything work for my good (Romans 8:28).

So I can plan, build, watch over without being anxious for the one who decides cares for me (Psalm 127:1-2). So my new plan is to let Him teach me how to just seat, enjoy the landscape and rejoice.

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 131

For stormy days

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33

Have you ever been frustrated with God because He did not come through for you after many prayers? Do you remember those days when you just did not understand why God, who is Almighty and good, left you in the midst of difficult, painful circumstances? Here is something that may help us to trust and be still in the midst of storms.

So Jesus sent the disciples on the boat. They were there not because of pride or disobedience but because of their submission, while Jesus stayed, dismissing the crowds, and then praying. While He was praying, the disciples were facing a storm and contrary winds. He did not calm the storm, but kept praying (Luke 22: 31-32). And even when He came to them, He did not calm the storm and the winds. He walked on the sea, but did not calm it. He spoke to them, comforting them, but did not calm it. Yet He was there with them. Difficult circumstances do not mean that God has abandoned or forgotten you. Difficult circumstances mean that God waits for you to come to Him in the midst of the storm. He wants your faith to be great.

When carrying too heavy a load

“I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing well to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.” (Jeremiah 32:40–41)

Life can be burdensome, especially when you are single. You have to carry your load alone. Of course there are friends and brothers and sisters in Christ who help, encourage and advise you, but it is not the same. There is that feeling of loneliness, that desire for a partner, that longing for someone to carry life burdens with us.

However there is a good news. We are not alone. There is someone who not only understands, support, encourages and helps us, but he also carries our load. He frees us from the burden of bearing your own load. He does the work.

Read attentively these verses.

From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4)

No eye has seen a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.

(Isaiah 64:4)

The eyes of the LORD run through the earth, to show himself strong for those who trust him. (2 Chronicles. 16:9).

If I were hungry, I wouldn’t tell you. Call on me, I will deliver you. You will glorify me. (Psalm 50:15).

To old age I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. (Isaiah 46:4).

I worked harder than any, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians. 15:10).

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (Psalm 127:1).

Whoever serves, let him serve by the strength God supplies, so that in everything God may be glorified. (1 Peter 4:11).

Work out your own salvation, for it is God who works in you, to will and to work”. (Philippians 2:12–13).

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6–7).

 

Our God is the one who does the work. So in the midst of our pains, difficulties and anxieties, let’s wait for the one who promised to do us good.

How many hair do you have?

So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:26-33

What do you think about your hair? Some spent a lot of time taking care of those fine thread-like strands. Others just don’t care. At the end of the day, hair is not that important. We can live without. But our heavenly Father numbered them.

But why? Because He cares. His providence extents to all His creature, even to sparrows.  And because in His mercy He gave us more value than they, He knows how many of them we have on our heads. And if God numbers the hairs of His people, much more does He number their heads and take care of their lives and souls. God takes more care of us than we do ourselves. We never miss our hair that fall, but God knows every one of them. And not a hair of our head will perish (Luke 21:18). We are so precious to God that even the less considerable part of us is important for Him.

As the Holy Spirit says: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32

Today (every day) is the perfect moment to rest in the love of God and to walk through life with confidence.

 

For this purpose…

“And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them,  but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” (Luke 4:42-44)

Sometimes we can feel there is too much to do and not enough time to do it. We need to find time not only for God but also for work, friends, church, evangelization, serving and encouraging others… and we need to sleep. Sometimes  we want to choose:  maybe stop working to share more Jesus with unbelievers or meet fewer people to be able to spend quality time with God and so on.

Jesus was a very busy man, but He achieved so much more than us. He served, preached, taught, healed, resurrected, spent quality times with His friends…  John even told us that He did  so many others things that it was impossible to write all them (John 21:25). How was He able to achieve so much? Mark 1:35-38 gives us the answer.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him,  and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.”  And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.

Jesus had a busy evening. He healed people,  casted out many demons, handled a whole city… I guess He was tired. However, early in the morning, He went out to pray. Then when people tried to prevent Him from leaving, He said no because He had a purpose. He knew why He was there and was determined not to be distracted.

So maybe the solution to our “not enough time” is to spend time with God, to pray even if when we are tired and to know for what purpose we are on earth. Spending time with God should come before everything else. We easily forget that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). We easily forget that Him alone can renew our strength (Isaiah 40: 30-31). We also need to remember that He created us for good works that will glorify Him (Ephesians 2:10; Isaiah 43:7; Matthew 5:16).

So the question for each of us is: “Is your calendar  full with things that are for God’s glory?”  Let’s imitate Jesus by depending on God and by leaving for His glory.