Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Keeping faith under a difficult situation is the best measure of our own faith to God.
It might be easy to say that we are faithful when everything goes well. Our plan turns into a reality, and our face is filled with smiles and our hearts are fully satisfied. What a wonderful life! We are jolly every day. We filled with full of energy as all things are going well. We feel our God is on our side, and our faith, we feel, is growing also.
Suddenly, without warning, something that we have never expected happens. Then what?
The people of Israel prayed for long time. Then finally, their prayers were answered. God’s mighty hand brought down the ten plagues on the Egyptians. The ten plagues made the Pharaoh, the officials, and the ordinary people in Egypt greatly terrified, but did hit none of the people of Israel. God protected His people, the people of Israel, and they were safe in God’s hand. God, in fact, fought for the people of Israel, and they became eyewitnesses of Egyptian firstborn sons being killed by the power of God. Pharaoh, then, fell into fear, and immediately expelled the entire people of Israel from Egypt, his own country, although the people of Israel, were essential to sustain the country. At that time, Egypt was powered by their slave labors of the people of Israel. Pharaoh feared God and the people of Israel more than the expected huge economic loss caused by losing the entire slaves – the people of Israel from his land.
The ordinary Egyptians also feared the people of Israel. The Egyptians gave anything that the people of Israel wanted, and the people of Israel practically stripped off the wealth of the Egyptians. The people of Israel saw with their own eyes what God did for them. It was truly amazing that things went extremely well. Great happiness songs never left their mouths, and they praised God who rescued them from the 400 years’ bondage of the slavery in Egypt. All felt that God was their side because all things were so good. In reality, it turned out be much better than they expected. They thought that the happy days would continue from then on.
Satan replied to the LORD, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” (Job 1:9-11)
This is one of the replies given by Satan to God about Job, who was upright before God. Job was extremely wealthy. In his household, nothing was lacking. However, Satan believed that Job could be destroyed if all of this wealth and possessions were taken away from Job. But we know Satan was wrong. Job endured and proved his faith under the unthinkably harsh calamity. He stood firm on rock of faith while enduring against one disaster after another. Even his wife turned against Job.
His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” (Job 2:9)
Please don’t simply assume that Job’s wife did not have faith at all. She endured the trails and pains with Job. She lost all of her children, and she saw the disasters falling down into her household from heavens. She witnessed all of the wealth were disappearing. To her, all of these were unbearable, but she endured together with Job. However, when Job himself was struck down, she could not endure anymore, and shouted to her husband, in fact, to God. Here is what Satan told to God:
Satan replied to the LORD, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life. But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!” (Job 2:4-5)
As Satan told to God, Satan struck Job hard with terrible boils from head to foot. Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. His wife could not see his husband was suffering. She wanted to see the end, but the end had never come. She broke down.
She simply gave up in the middle of the trials, and she shouted out in her extreme frustration, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” Even so, Job endured. Job was persistent and resisted the temptation. He kept his faith in God, and he kept trusting God. This is the victory of Job’s faith. It was a deep and immovable faith, firmly planted on the solid lock of faith. This is also our prayer for all of us to have such a faith.
In fact, such a huge trail of Job found the people of Israel, who were happily leaving Egypt with blessings of the Egyptians who used to be the former masters. Then, Pharaoh suddenly changed his mind. He started chasing down the people of Israel with his best armies equipped with his best chariots, horses, swords and spears. The people of Israel saw the Egyptian armies chasing, and the enormous Red Sea that blocked their way. They were trapped. Suddenly, the mood of the people of Israel completely changed. A great fear fell on them, and the great fear made them believe that they would be killed by the Egyptians. (We know it was not true. Their fear was totally ungrounded. There was no reason for the Egyptians to kill all the people of Israel. What the Egyptians wanted to reclaim the people of Israel as their slaves as before. The Egyptians badly needed their own slaves for their own living.)
The people of Israel were panicking. They were in terror while watching the rapidly approaching Egyptian armies. They all together with one voice complained to Moses,
“Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’” (Exodus 14:1b-12)
In terror, they became completely irrational. They were completely convinced that they would be killed by the swords of Egyptians in the middle of the wilderness. They directed all blames to God. They even started praising their past lives in Egypt as slaves instead of enduring with God while following Him wherever He led.
It is easy for us to say how stupid the people of Israel were, but how about us if we meet a similar situation? Are we truly faithful under all circumstances while trusting His goodness till the end? When everything goes well with us, we felt good, and we feel that our God is on our side. We believe that God listens to our prayers and answer to us, because all things turned out as we prayed. Suddenly, one single day, we lose everything due to something that we have never expected. Then what shall we do? What would be our response? Would our response be that of Job who endured till the end? Or that of the people of Israel who immediately blamed at God? Or that of Job’s wife who initially endured, but could not do till the end?
For the people of Israel, God showed His mercy because God was faithful. The people of Israel saw God’s hand — blocking the advance of the Egyptians toward them, making a way to the other side of the Red Sea, walking through the Red Sea on dry ground, and seeing the Egyptians completely buried under the Red Sea like rocks, and they trusted God again. Indeed, their faith was on their eyes, not in their hearts. Again, it was not their faith that made them to see God’s hand and His miracles, but God did for them out of His love, compassion and mercy. Then what is the faith after all?
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Faith allows for us to see what we cannot see. Thus, faith is the reality that we hope for in Him. And faith becomes the evidence of things that we cannot see. Through faith, we can touch and feel the very existence of what we hope for. Therefore, faith assures the existence and the reality of what we hope for.
Not like us, God is always faithful. The people of Israel were not so faithful as God. As the situation changed, their faith also changed. They believed and trusted when everything went well, but they showed their back and even cursed God when things were bad. However, God had never changed, and He was always faithful to His people. This is the reason why we can always trust God. Then how can we have our true faith?
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. (James 1:17)
Our faith is also a gift of God. Yes, God provides, although we are not worthy to receive such a precious gift from God. That’s why we call Our God as Our Ever-Loving and gracious Father with full of mercy. The people of Israel were against God. This was a great sin against God. However, God did not immediately punish the people of Israel like a human king. Instead God showed His mercy on the people of Israel. Why? God is faithful to His people, with whom God made a covenant with Abraham long before even all of the people of Israel were born.
For God’s faithfulness, God does not have a rotating shadow like us. Although we might change as the situation changes, but God doesn’t This is the assurance given to us. This is the reason why we can confidently come to God no matter what happens in our lives. Indeed, God is always waiting for us with His loving arms wide open. When we come back to Him, He embraces us while putting us in His loving and warm bosom. in Him, we can find peace and take His Heavenly rest that cannot be found anywhere on earth except Him, Our Ever-Loving Father.
We shared last week; people of Israel joyfully gave praises to God after crossing the Red Sea. Again, it was God’s one-sided love and mercy. They saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the seashore. God was faithful to the people of Israel. Then He placed a great chasm of the Red Sea to completely separate the people of Israel from the Egyptians. Since then, no more Egyptians were found. By the way, the original meaning of “holy” is to set apart. The people of Israel were set apart from the Egyptians by completely leaving the land of Egypt filled with agony and sin. God made the people of Israel free to be His own holy people. What a blessing it was! The same blessing is given to us today. There is only one reason that we are His. Thus, it is equally true that God set apart us from the world filled with agony and sin to be His holy people forever.
We also should not forget that God has done to us because we are holier and more faithful than other, but because God is faithful to us for the covenant made long ago with Abraham and for the descendent of Abraham in faith. This special covenant between God and us leads to our faith, which makes us believe and receive Jesus Christ as our own personal Savior. Thus, it is easy for us to know whether we have faith or not although we might not have the great faith of Job. Have we really received Jesus Christ as our own personal savior? The answer is yes. Then we are under His covenant, and His children forever, whom God dearly protects and loves with His infinitely patient. Even today and at this moment, God invites us to be His own beloved children. Just believe and accept Him as our own personal savior.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
The people of Israel departed from the Red Sea, and walked into the wilderness, where there was no water. Thus, their journey was not easy. For three days, they could not drink water, and they became extremely thirsty. In fact, walking three days through the bone-dry wildness without water was really dangerous even to their lives. Some of them had been fainted, sick and even hallucinated due to the lack of water. On the way, they continuously prayed to God as they were making the treacherously difficult journey through the bone-dry wilderness. But no water source was found, such as an oasis.
As time went by, maintaining their faith in God was getting harder. Their vivid memory of God’s miracle and His protection was rapidly fading. They were struggling for their own lives, and nobody was talking about God’s miracle at the Red Sea; they walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. They saw the marvelous scene of the two gigantic walls of the Red Sea water standing on both sides, the path between the water columns, the enormous destructive power of God that stuck down the Egyptians by returning the Red Sea, and the corpses of the Egyptians washed on the shore. To the people of Israel, their physical thirst after three days’ journey on the bone-dry wilderness was much greater than what God did for them only three days ago.
Then they heard one person’s shout at front that they found an oasis. What a news! They had waited for this news for the last three days as they marched through the wilderness. They prayer and prayed to God. All immediately were relieved while watching each other’s face that our prayers were answered. They ran to the oasis. They drank the water, but they immediately spit out because the water was too bitter to drink. Think about what we would respond this situation. Would we praise God? Or what?
We have prayed and prayed in faith, and finally what we prayed for is shown before our eyes. We become excited, and we praise His name for answering our prayer. Then soon we realize that what we see is not what we have prayer. It only looks like what we have prayed for. Then what would we respond? Can we describe ours hearts at the terribly disappointing moment? No word would be available to describe our heart.
The situation to the people of Israel was truly dire. If they could not find drinkable water, they would literally die soon. The water that they found and touched was of no use. Here is how they responded:
Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. (Exodus 15:24)
They complained and turned against Moses, and God. Then they demanded like a crying baby. Yes, it is not difficult to understand why. They did not know what to do. They just cried out like a baby while demanding. Spiritually speaking, they were, in fact, babies, who were newly born by passing through the Red Sea. God was infinitely patient to the newly born babies and continued leading them with His infinite love and merciful care.
God is always faithful and provides to His chosen people. God’s love and mercy won over the cries of the people of Israel because of the special relationship between God and the people of Israel, which was bounded by the covenant of God made to the people of Israel. Once this covenant is made, it cannot be broken because God is infinitely faithful. This is our assurance in Him also. Forever, we cannot be separated from God and His Love because we are the children of His Covenant.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38)
Then God made the bitter water to sweet so that the people of Israel could drink. The people of Israel enjoyed the water and completely satisfied. What we can learn from here?
There are both a dark night and a bright morning. If there is no dark night, how can we know the true value of a bright morning? This is a valuable lesson of a dark night in our lives. Then how to overcome the dark night? The answer is faith in Him. When how to know whether we are truly trusting God in a dark night? The answer is our thanksgiving to God. Our faith without thanksgiving to God is just façade without substance.
As a result, we always give thanks to God whether we are in a dark night or a bright morning. If not, our hearts are far away from God although we say we have faith. Of course, we will surely know our faith when we meet a dark night. Especially, the night is so dark that there is no word to describe, and our faith will shine as a bright star in the sky. Then we know God and His love overflown our lives. Yes, nobody likes a dark night, but because God loves us unfathomably, God lets us to go through a dark night according to His perfect will. Then how should our response when we suddenly meet a dark night? Should we be frustrated, disappointed, complaining to God or even angry at God like the people of Israel? No, we should give thanks to God.
How to give thanks to God when a darkness hit us? Here is a practical tip. Speak loudly “Thank you, God” for three times when we are alone with God. Surely, we will experience the peace of God that transcends all of understand in Christ Jesus.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
The people of Israel had completely filled with the water provided by God at the Oasis in Marah (which means “bitter”.) Then the Israelites traveled on to the oasis of Elim, where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the water. God provided and they gave thanks to God.
Some of us are, even at this moment, making journey through the bone-dry wilderness while searching for water. For many days, we have not found any water, and almost dying. However, we cannot see anything looking like an oasis. Even so, we should not stop trusting God. God knows exactly what we are experiencing. God also hears us one word by one word as we utter as our prayer to God. Then we can also sure that God answers according to His infinitely goodness.
By the way, we might encounter an oasis filled with bitter water, but we should not be discouraged. God knows exactly what we need. Like Job who kept faith before God through the difficult time, and Moses who faithfully prayed to God although the people of Israel complained and against him, let’s fix eyes on God and continue trusting Him, which truly pleases God. When Moses trusted God, using Moses, God turned the bitter water to sweet so that all of the Israelites could drink and be satisfied. God searches for the faith of Moses today. Although our faith might not be as big as that of Moses, God uses such our small faith and turns the bitterness to the sweet for us as well as the people around us. Then we all together enjoy the sweet water flown from God although we are in the midst of the bone-dry wilderness.
All the Way My Savior Leads Me
By Fanny J. Crossby
All the way my Savior leads me
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His faithful mercies?
Who through life has been my guide
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort
Ere by faith in Him to dwell
For I know whate’er fall me
Jesus doeth all things well.
All of the way my Savior leads me
And He cheers each winding path I tread
Gives me strength for every trial
And He feeds me with the living bread
And though my weary steps may falter
And my soul a-thirst may be
Gushing from a rock before me
Though a spirit joy I see.
And all the way my Savior leads me
Oh, the fullness of His love
Perfect rest in me is promised
In my Father’s house above
When my spirit clothed immortal
Wings it’s flight through the realms of the day
This my song through endless ages
Jesus led me all the way
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)