By Roland W. Keith
“Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him” (Proverbs 13:5).
Most of us have doubts from time to time. About our abilities, our health, the world around us, about God, about our salvation. About many things. But it doesn’t have to be that way. King David often failed, he often sinned and felt downcast and troubled. Yet he was a man after God’s own heart and over the years he learned not only how to trust in the LORD, but what trust truly means. As king of Israel God did not make his paths straight, He didn’t prevent David from making mistakes or protect him from the consequences of those mistakes. But He did make him a promise, the same one He has made to all who follow Him. That if we obey Him He will be there for us. He will guide us, shield us from being pushed beyond what we can bear, He will give us the strength and understanding that we need to overcome.
King David wrote, “My steps have held fast to Your paths; my feet have not slipped. I call upon You, for You will answer me, O God; incline Your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show Your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at Your right hand” (Psalm 17:5-7) . David trusted God to sustain him against his enemies and times of trouble (Psalm 3:3-6). Nonetheless, he understood that death comes to all men, and even innocent and faithful people can die tragic deaths. He would have been well aware of the accounts of the babies Pharaoh killed, Samson and Able to name a few. Today we can add to that list— the children of Bethlehem, Jesus, John the Baptist, Stephen, James, and the traditional accounts of how many of the apostles died.
We can understand then that the trust we have in the LORD does not guarantee us a life of ease or a peaceful death. It is founded on much greater things than those. In Psalm 34:22 we read: “The LORD redeems the life of His servants; none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.” Yes, God will always be with us and our lives will be the better for it. But what does that mean? It means we will be better people, equipped to deal with life’s troubles and temptations. We will grow not only wiser but spiritually and mentally stronger. And we will be better prepared to meet and accept life’s bounty and poverty with equal disinterest. It also means that we understand God’s endgame. Not to give us a life of ease and luxury here on earth, but to make us strong, obedient, productive members of His kingdom who will one day spend eternity with Him. We do not trust in God necessarily to deliver us from physical death, though He may choose to deliver us again and again, but we trust Him ultimately to raise us up from our physical death to spiritual life (II Corinthians 1:8-10).
The Christian knows that our help in all of life’s trials comes from the Lord, so long as we trust in Him (Psalm 121:1-3; Psalm 125: 1-4). As the Psalmist wrote, “The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their stronghold in the time of trouble. The LORD helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him” (Psalm 37:39-40). When we truly put our hope and faith in Him, confident in His promises, God blesses us (Jeremiah 17:7; Proverbs 16:20). When hard times come, we are not afraid, nor do we despair, knowing that in the end we will triumph in Him (Proverbs 16:20; Psalm 112:7-8).
God is always there to sustain us and lead us home, no matter how dire the situation, as we read in Psalm 46:1-7: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters His voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.” When we are afraid, we can put our hope in Him with unwavering confidence, as David wrote, “I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4; see also Psalm 56:11-13; Psalm 118:6-8).
When we humble ourselves before the LORD, He will be there to raise us up (I Peter 5:6). God knows our hearts, and, as Paul told the Romans, “all things work together for good” for those who are called by the LORD (Romans 8:27-29). However, as Christians it is important to remember that for us “all things” encompasses all the good and bad we experience and how we use them to achieve the long-game in God’s plan— that which, over many years, brings us to the gates of heaven. Peter alluded to this when he wrote, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled” (I Peter 3:13-14). As one who had suffered for the Lord, Peter was thoroughly acquainted with suffering for righteousness sake, knowing of what he spoke.
None of us have a crystal ball (at least not one that actually works). The best that we can do is to live our lives in obedience to God’s word. To do that we must be well studied in the word and determined to incorporate its wisdom and guidance into our lives. It will also help to be aware of what is going on in the world, particularly regarding the church. It is easy to feel comfortable in the confines of our homes here in America. However, it is not the same in other parts of the world. Moreover, recent events in both the public and political arenas here in the states indicate that our security even here is waning. How prepared are we to trust in the LORD? Are we ready to say, as Paul did, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6). Are we determined to heed Christ’s words to the faithful in Smyrna, when John wrote to them: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
Remember it was Jesus who told His followers, “I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you Whom to fear: fear Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5). Trusting in the LORD means more than just looking forward to all the promises of good He has made to us. It also means trusting in His warnings about the judgment. If the promise of heaven isn’t motivation enough then let hell motivate you as well. I once heard someone opine, “I know for sure I don’t want to go to hell, Texas is hot enough.” Growing up in West Texas I understand exactly what they meant, but how serious were they? All joking aside, heaven and hell is as serious a conversation as we can have. The greatest command is to love God with everything we have. Do we love Him enough to want to obey His every command? Do we love Him enough to want to spend eternity with Him? And, secondarily do we love ourselves enough to want to secure our eternal welfare as opposed to earthly gain?
If we have our priorities straight then we will put our love and trust in the LORD, and be able to join with Paul in saying, “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? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, Who was raised—Who is at the right hand of God, Who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For Your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31-39.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.