As you who have been reading my newsletters know, our family has gone through some stuff the past few months. When you have had what feels like a tsunami blow over you and try to drown you and take your very breath away, it is hard to hang on to hope. But it is that very hope that anchors our soul to our God, the God over all, the God who sees this as impossible for man but possible for Him. (see Mark 10:27, Luke 1:37, John 12:46, Heb. 6:17-19 ESV)
Years ago I read a sermon titled “How Big Is Your God?” that was preached by Francis Schaeffer. Although I no longer have a copy of it I did remember the title as we struggled in what looked like overwhelming and impossible situations. It was obvious that if God didn’t intervene we could not find a way out of our crisis. At the same time our friends were going through a different crisis and even more devastating than ours. If we were to evaluate the two crises we would have to say that theirs should take precedence over us. I felt that God was saying that we had to believe that our God was big enough to handle both of these and many others at the same time. We had to stop believing the lie of the devil saying that our problem was small considering our friends’ crisis. Many of our fellow Americans at the same time had to deal with death and destruction in the wake of the many hurricanes and the deadly mass shootings, and destructive riots. What was our problem in comparison to those others? Was God too busy to even hear us and were we too selfish to bother him when others needed Him more?
The Holy Spirit began to show me that we who are “born again” have become children of God and that He loves us, our problems are important to Him, He listens to our prayers and intends good for us. At this time my grandchildren were visiting me. The youngest had a tiny speck on her hand that I could barely see. She thought it was a splinter. Since I couldn’t see it to pull it out we applied a drawing salve and a band-aid. Later my older granddaughter came to me with a huge blister that had opened up on her hand. She was in a lot of discomfort so I cleaned it, applied medicine and a band-aid over it. I love both those girls. I hurt that each of them had a hurt. I didn’t evaluate which one to help. I just helped them both. I think that is God’s way with His children too. When His children hurt He wants to come and help them no matter how big or little their problem is.
“How Big Is Your God?” Is He is really a God who hears all the prayers of His children? Would He be willing to answer the small prayer as well as the large prayer or did He only want to help certain people? Phil. 4:6 tells us to take “everything” to God in prayer, so why would He tell us to do that if He were not to hear our prayer and answer it? The Bible says He is a good father and he gives good gifts to His children. (Matt. 7:11)
I started studying Luke this past month and was stopped with Luke chapter 1. It seems that I have spent weeks thinking about verse 37 which says, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” This verse is embedded in the stories of Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary and how God did the impossible in their lives.
You see, Zechariah and Elizabeth were childless. He was a priest and she was a descendant of the priestly line. The Bible says that “they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” (Luke 1:6 ESV) Then in verse 7 comes the “But”. “But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.” Here were godly people in service to the Lord and they had given up hope of ever having a child. I’m sure in the early years Elizabeth watched and waited each month, praying and hoping for a child, but finally when menapause came she knew it was never to be. Why hadn’t God answered her and her husband’s prayers. In most cases we don’t know why, but in this case I’d like to hazard a guess. God had seen them, He had heard them, and He had watched them walk through years of sadness at not bearing a child, and for Elizabeth the humiliation of knowing her peers wondered what she had done that the Lord had not blessed her. “But God” (so many times in the Bible this phrase comes up.) “But God” had heard their prayers and was planning to bless them beyond their wildest dreams but He had to wait until the timing was right, then He allowed her to get pregnant. Now mind you, it was an impossibility for a woman of that age to get pregnant, but with God it was possible. Why did he wait? This couple was chosen to be the parents of a special son named John (the Baptist) who would prepare Israel for the coming of their Messiah. If this child had been born when Elizabeth was young John would have been out of the timing of God to introduce the Jews to Jesus. God always has a plan but He doesn’t often explain it to us. That’s why we have to have faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please him.” (Heb. 11:6)
So in chapter 1 of Luke we see the story of an old woman past her ability to bear a child, in other words it was impossible, but God opened her womb to bear a child in her old age. Then a few verses later Mary, a virgin teenager, gets the news that she is going to become pregnant by the miraculous overshadowing of the Most High and that this son would be “called holy—the Son of God.” Impossible. Mary was a virgin! But God, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
What is important for us to realize is the Bible is full of stories of people like you and me who were in impossible situations and at a certain time, a certain place, God planned to answer their prayers. To the human mind all was lost and it was impossible to see the answer to their prayers. When we are in a bad place, where the devil whispers lies in our ears, where everything is going wrong and we don’t know what to do or where to go, we need to remind ourselves of those who have gone through terrible things and have been rescued by our Lord or been a part of God’s perfect will and made a difference in our world before or as they left it.
Of course I have prayed for my situation, but sometimes my prayers feel more whiney then hope filled, so I have also begun to read of others who have had great faith in trials. I’ve been rebuilding my faith by reading the promises in the Bible, and reading about God’s people and how they stood up in faith believing in a God who heard their cries. (Remember the story of the 3 men in the furnace who told the king that God could rescue them, but if He didn’t they’d still worship Him above all other gods? Daniel 3:16-18) I’ve also been reading books about contemporary people who have stood in faith against impossibilities. One of the books that really spoke to me is the story of Winfried Wentland, one of Reinhard Bonnke’s helpers in reaching Africa with the Gospel. Winfried has worked for him 30 years by driving and maintaining huge trucks to carry all the equipment for the Crusades. The story that stuck so clearly to me was when Winfried, his wife, and another man were driving 2 semi-trucks loaded with equipment across the Sahara Desert. There were no real roads there just some stakes where the sand was hardened and some tracks of others who drove before them. It was a scary trip as the wind could cover the tracks so that they could not be seen and that was what happened to them one day. They had traveled a long way when they began to pass abandoned vehicles and dead bodies along what they thought was the road. It was not long before they realized that they had left the road and were lost in the middle of a desert with nothing to see from the front, the back, the left, the right but endless sand. They stopped and prayed. This is where I would have panicked, yelled, cried and lost it, but Winfried and his companions began to pray asking God to “guide our thinking and our decisions so that we can continue on this journey in the right direction.” They knew that they were on God’s journey for them and they wanted to complete it His way. Amazing! What is even more amazing, Winfried set a stake in the sand and watched the sun make it into a sundial, which then gave them a starting point as to direction. They then started out again in this new direction and believed that the Lord would lead them back to the “road” and amazingly God took them from the impossibility of finding the road to the very road they needed to find.
I’ve seen God do miracles in healing in my family’s life before. I had an uncle with terminal lung cancer who the VA said they could not do surgery on as it would not do him any good. God used that horrible time for prayer and intercession for a miracle for him and an opportunity to bring him to Jesus. It was a couple of days after he had accepted the Lord that the surgeons came back and said that they were going to operate. The impossible made possible by God! Our family had repeatedly laid hands on him for healing and asking God for 15 more years of life for him as he was the only grandfather figure our young children had left. When he got out of ICU after surgery and was placed on the surgery floor, they called him the “miracle man” as the doctors had been able to lift out the tumor, and found it had not gone anywhere else, nor did he need any further treatments of any kind! The Lord also heard our prayer that he live for 15 years, and he lived 17 years before the Lord took him home. He was my young kids’ grandfather for all intents and purposes until the day he died. God was so good to us. He did what was impossible for man but was possible for Him.
But what do we do for the times God doesn’t intervene? Those are the really hard times. I think that is when Winfried’s prayer is even more important. When we are in the Sahara Desert we need to remember that God is able to make a way where there is no way. Nothing is impossible for Him. Our job is to have faith even if it is impossible to see a good outcome. The Lord has promised to lead us even in the wilderness. The Lord has given us the opportunity to have companions on our journey, please don’t forget to reach out and be willing to be vulnerable to them so that you can receive their hugs and prayers when you are unable to pray anything but “HELP!” Hopefully you have gathered some of God’s promises to you, those verses I suggested in the other newsletters that you can pray out loud, as they will help to rebuild your hope and faith in God’s ability to work in the impossibilities of your life journey. Find some modern day stories of people of faith who have lived through the impossible and found that with God all things are possible. Add those to the Bible stories of faith that the Lord will bring to mind to rebuild the faith that the devil is very good at stealing from us with his lies and deception. Hang on to that anchor of hope. Remember God’s answer is often “Wait” rather than the “No” we hear. Elizabeth had to wait for her prayer to be answered. Timing is everything with God. Sometimes God enters something in our lives that seems very bad like Mary getting pregnant by God and not being able to explain it so you don’t sound crazy to the world around you and the man you love, but with God the very thing that brought you pain from others was the very thing that God used to bring life to many more. God’s ending is often an unexpected blessing to an impossible situation. Wait for the “But God” in your life in every situation and don’t forget that you are His child and your hurt no matter how small compared to another’s is important for Him to tend to. Don’t give up, don’t give in, stand strong and wait for Him to show you the salvation of the Lord in the very midst of your pain. Watch for Him as He is there even if you don’t see Him or feel Him. Just believe Him and hold on to the hope that He sends your way.
Here’s a song that you can hear on YouTube. Check it out.
God Will Make a Way by Don Moen
God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me close to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way (back to chorus)
By a roadway in the wilderness, He’ll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and Earth will fade but His Word will still remain
And He will do something new today. (back to chorus)