I was asked a week ago to preach at a supporting church which is currently without a pastor. It is a difficult time for this congregation and I struggled with what message I was to give. I prayed, seeking the Lord, and, as I often tell students, he usually is not early nor is he ever late. He is always on time. So, on Saturday afternoon as I was getting ready to take a nap after a busy morning, the word came to me—faithfulness. Upon that word I was to build my message.
With notes in hand, I sat down in the second row as the worship service began. The chorus of the first song contained these words: “forever God is faithful, forever God is strong.” The second was an old contemporary hymn by Bill and Gloria Gaither—“Because He Lives.” The first verse and chorus say this:
How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and the joy that he gives.
Oh but greater still, the calm assurance.
We can face uncertain days because He lives.
And because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth a living just because He lives.
Then came a song sung by some of the teenagers of the church. I don’t recall its name, but one of the phrases was, “When my faith is weak, you are strong within me.”
I cannot name the number of times that this has happened to me in a worship service in which I have preached. It was not me coordinating my message with the church leaders; it was the Holy Spirit doing the coordinating, from giving me the sense of what I am to speak on to the songs that are selected to sing.
At an earlier time in my ministry, I would have been quite anxious that if the day before I was to preach, I had no idea what to say. But I have come to learn the lesson well on which I preached this past Sunday—God is faithful and he can be trusted in challenging and uncertain times. As I told the congregation, I have had many occasions in my life to see God’s faithfulness. When both of my parents were terminally ill, they both became believers in the midst of those illnesses. When, as a young man, I moved halfway across the country to a city in which I knew not one person to begin working with a campus ministry. When my first wife left me and the consequences of that eventually led me being asked to resign my ministry position. When, as a divorced man looking for another ministry, the Lord led me back east to the mountains of North Carolina to take leadership over a struggling campus ministry. When, still emotionally struggling from the rejection of my ex-wife, I met my current wife online while she was living in Ukraine as a YWAM missionary. When, during the recession of 2009, our ministry was “on fumes” financially with mere dollars in our checking account, and the Lord raised up more than $30,000 in a few weeks to stabilize the ministry.
Now, I am about to begin a new adventure that is unclear where it will take us. Yet, my wife and I are not wringing our hands in anxiety because we know God is faithful and can be trusted. Here are the Scriptures that have encouraged us during uncertain and difficult times, and ones I shared with the congregation last Sunday:
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (IITimothy 2:11-13)
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (I Thess. 5:23-24)
As I have worked downstream with Christian college students, I have seen the struggles they have with trusting the Lord when things are uncertain, whether it be a test coming up, dealing with certain relationships, finances, or their futures after graduation. Having faith, hope, and trust in God is typically not something that comes naturally, because so many around us have very little of it. That’s why it is so critical for you, if you are parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, or older siblings, to model trust in God’s faithfulness by how you live your lives. Seeing people whom they respect and look up to living a life of trust in the Lord can make a major difference as they grow into emerging adults. How much easier it will be for them to trust in God’s faithfulness if they see you putting that into practice in your life.
© Jim Musser 2021 All Scripture references are from the New International Version, 2011.