We all encounter times in our lives when we experience the effects of sin and its place in this world. One of the ways sin impacts our lives is through accidents, injuries, and sickness. One day things are going along as they always have and then in a moment we are confronted with an entirely new reality.
As I sit here writing this our beloved family dog is in the veterinary hospital and things aren’t looking good. We got Dutch – a pit bull, boxer mix (at least that is what he looks like, we aren’t actually sure since he was a rescue) about 5 years ago; 3 days after our dog General (rottweiler, german shepherd mix) passed away after 12 wonderful years. Just yesterday Dutch seemed fine but today we find him in a battle.
The sudden change of events has been a shock to the system, and my wife and kids are looking to me for some direction and comfort. In my humanness I immediately found myself playing the “what if” game. “What if the vet is wrong about the diagnosis?” “What if Dutch is completely hobbled because of the surgery?” “What if he needs to go on multiple medications and have more surgeries?” “What if the meds and surgeries don’t work?” “What if he dies?” “What if we are faced with the decision of putting him down?”
After a few moments of listening to myself prognosticate all of the potential outcomes (all of which were negative I noticed) I immediately recognized my sin, turned confessed and repented, and then sought God’s counsel through Philippians 4:4-7.
- v.4 Rejoice in the Lord – Thank you God that we have a competent vet nearby, who was able to see Dutch immediately. Thank you that my wife who was scheduled to work today was at home instead and noticed something was wrong and was able to take Dutch to the vet. Thank you that we have the resources to pay for today’s procedures. Thank you that Dutch has brought our family so much joy.
- v.5 Let your reasonableness be known – I’ve been able to remain calm and reasoned – even though I’m concerned and saddened to see Dutch in this condition – because I know God in a personal way. The most important relationship in my life is my relationship with God, and I’ve spent countless hours convening with Him through prayer and Bible reading before this situation occurred. Because of this I know who God is (holy, Creator of all things), His characteristics (unchanging, merciful, compassionate), His promises (will never leave nor forsake those that are in Christ), and His love (patient, kind, never-ending); and I’m able to act reasonably for the good of others and for His glory.
- v.6 Turn from anxiety, turn to prayer – I realized that if I really love and trust God, and believe that He is sovereign over all events in the universe, including in this situation then I needed to obey this command. And this is a command. Turn from my sin, repent, and turn to the God of miracles and ask Him to do only what He can; but most importantly ask Him that His will be done above all else in this situation (Luke 22:42). And then if and when I find myself moving toward anxious thoughts to begin this process anew, each time.
- v.7 When we do God’s word He blesses us – James 1:25 makes this concept clear. The situation and prognosis has not changed much but God has blessed me with His peace. I know that although Dutch lives with us, he is actually God’s; and God will give us the wisdom we need to properly care for Dutch throughout his life. I have rest because I know that a merciful, gracious, holy God is sitting on the throne. I know that nothing happens in this world without His say-so and His knowledge (Luke 12:6). This gives me great peace because I know that in this situation – as in all situations – He is working all things together for good, for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose; even if I can’t see or understand what is happening (Isaiah 55:8-9). I don’t have to worry about the outcome – that’s God job. I need to focus on serving Him and loving and serving my family (and any other witnesses to this event) by pointing them to Him, so that they can see Him and be comforted and assured by Him. If I do that He will be glorified.
So the next time you face a trial, stop listening to yourself, and seek to hear from God instead by turning to this powerful block of Scripture. Remember what God says, instructs, and promises. Remember who God is, and who you are – both in the flesh and in Christ. When you turn to God’s written word, and ask, you will always find hope, power, direction and blessing in order to endure and persevere to the end.
Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.
© 2016 Michael Martin