Faith shining in adversity

See the light

“And he (Jesus) said, Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not my will, but what you will” (Mark 14:25:30).

I wonder has your faith in God been tested while you are under severe adversity of any kind? I can only wonder at the saviour's words as he prayed his heart out to his heavenly Father.
 

Just before he said this prayer, he said to his disciples “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.” He was soon to face the dreadful Roman cross, a truly horrific way to die. His anxiety was great at this moment, but so was his unswerving faith.  Although he is God, Jesus was also fully human, and experienced what we all experience in life. He knew what it is was like to suffer hunger, temptation and deep anxiety. The gospel of Luke provides us with further insight into his state of mind “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44)
 

Facing the cross, he cried out to his Father if it were possible to avoid what was to come. As God, he had perfect foreknowledge, in his humanity he shrank from it. He simply asked his Father, is there any other way? All things are possible for you! And yet he knew in order to save a people to himself, he must submit himself to the plan they agreed to, and submit to the will of his father.      
 

There are many lessons that can be drawn from this prayer uttered in the garden of Gethsemane before the storm arrived. But the main point to emphasise and learn today is that we too can pray this prayer. It is a prayer we can use. We can be bold, and ask big things from our heavenly father, Why? Because all things are possible for Him who loves us, his children.    
 

I wonder what big burdens you may have that you are carrying? Take them all to your heavenly Father, even if the way out of your difficulties may seem all but impossible. But in saying that, we must also be aware that it might not be God's will to answer our payers as we desire and think. He may have other plans for our lives.  

 

What motivated me to write this encouragement to you about bringing our big prayers to God?

Well, I was recently asked to write a book review. The book given to me was entitled  “The fight of faith.” The cover adds that it is a book that contains “lives and testimonies from the battlefield.” I am still reading through the book, but there was one testimony that spoke to me directly was the testimony of Jeff Strueker, an US Army Major (retired). The piece written was edited from his own book, “The road to unafraid.” Jeff provides a powerful, shocking story of his experience in Somalia. There has been a book and film of this particular episode called “Black Hawk down.” Jeff gives his own take on what happened there.  
 

Jeff and his troop were instructed to bring a Ranger casualty back to base in their Humvee. On the way back they came under severe fire from windows lining the streets, and they lost one of their own men, shot in the vehicle on the way back due to the heavy fire. I won't go into the story further, as I don't want to spoil the story! However they made it back very badly shaken by the whole experience. Jeff says it was the worst 40 minutes of his life, he had lost a valued Ranger to enemy fire, and the rescued  Ranger's life was in serious danger.
 

It was at this point his commander had some further unsettling bad news, another Black Hawk has gone down. You need to get your squad ready to go back in. Jeff couldn't believe it after what they had just faced. So he had to prepare his men for what lay once more before them. It was at this point that the words of Jesus praying in Gethsemane came to his mind. He found himself echoing his prayer. He said my life was now in God's hands. He had to trust in God. I could survive, or I could die this night and not see my family again, but be home with the Lord Jesus. Either way I'm a winner.
                                                    
    
As I read Jeff's testimony, it hit me very powerfully and personally. Why? My own personal battle is that I'm suffering from lung cancer. The day was Tuesday 30th October 2018 when I took this book to read while I had a cannula needle stuck in my arm feeding chemotherapy drugs. The previous Sunday sermon message in the morning was the exact same prayer that came to Jeff Strueker, and shared above. Take big prayer to Abba Father, ask for the seemingly impossible. But submit to his will. Was this just coincidence? No. Another unseen loving hand really had given me that book to review that Sunday, and read that Tuesday. It was just what I needed to hear. God was telling me to ask big things from him. He was gently reminding me to pray, and place my life in his hands. Lately he has compelled me to write and share this piece for your benefit.
 

This is not the only providence my Lord has graciously given me in the last couple of months. All sorts of precious promises have been flooding my soul. Like Jeff's memory, there are many other scripture passages that speak of God's grace given in special times of need. One of my favourites is when Abraham underwent a rescue operation to save his brother and family. After the battle, he was scared of any reprisal attacks upon his own family, in case the enemy banded together and sought him out. God appeared to him in a vision “Fear not Abram, I am your shield; your reward will be very great” (Genesis 15:1) A precious promise was given to him to hold on to.
 

Another favourite of mine is the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were to be thrown into the fiery pit. Their crime? They refused to bow down to a golden image or idol as decreed by the King of Babylon.
They answered to the charge against them by saying:
 

“O Nebuchanezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand , O king. But if not, be it known  to you O king, that we shall not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up”. (Daniel 3:16-18) .

The story ends with them being remarkably, supernaturally unharmed by the furnace. Four men were seen walking about, not three! And those who were there said “and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25). 


Who was this fourth person? None other than the pre incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ. He was there with them in their time of need. Needless to say the King was stunned as they walked out in the morning unharmed.   
 

So, who can tell what my future, or yours will be? Like Jeff, Abram, and the three brave men in Daniel,  I know whatever the outcome, I'm safe in his arms. That is faith working, holding on in adversity. So I ask you what of you? What dangers and trials do you face? Take them in payer to God, who is able to keep you and answer your big prayers. Maybe in ways in which he may astound, all to His glory!
 

The book “The fight of Faith” can be purchased by going to the SASRA web site, and the online shop. Cost is £10.00, and well worth a read!         

Books

A Gracious and Compassionate God Daniel Timmer

In this stimulating biblical–theological study, Daniel Timmer examines the book’s historical backgrounds (in both Israel and Assyria), discusses the biblical text in detail, and pays special attention to redemptive history and its Christocentric orientation. He explores the relationship between Israel and the nations – including the question of mission – and the nature of religious conversion and spirituality in the Old Testament.

A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss Jerry Sittser

A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of our sorrows, whether due to illness, divorce, or the loss of someone we love. The circumstances are not important; what we do with those circumstances is. In coming to the end of ourselves, we can come to the beginning of a new life –– one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings.

The Bruised Reed Richard Sibbes

‘I shall never cease to be grateful to..Richard Sibbes who was balm to my soul at a period in my life when I was overworked and badly overtired, and therefore subject in an unusual manner to the onslaughts of the devil..I found at that time that Richard Sibbes, who was known in London in the early seventeenth century as “The Heavenly Doctor Sibbes” was an unfailing remedy.. The Bruised Reed.. quietened, soothed, comforted, encouraged and healed me.’

My Rock, My Refuge Timothy Keller

Two decades ago, Tim Keller began reading the entire Book of Psalms every month. My Rock; My Refuge is based on his accumulated years of study, insight, and inspiration recorded in his prayer journals. Kathy Keller came to reading the psalms as a support during an extended illness. Together they have distilled the meaning of each verse, inviting readers into the vast wisdom of the psalms.

A Meal with Jesus Tim Chester

Tim argues that meals are also deeply theological – an important part of Christian fellowship and mission. He observes that Luke’s Gospel is full of stories of Jesus at meals. And these meals represent something bigger. In six chapters Tim shows how they enact grace, community, hope, mission, salvation and promise.

Feed your soul daily on...

Topics

What does Refuge mean for you?

To whom or where do you go to find refuge from the storms of life? The Government? The doctor? The police? A close friend? So I suppose for many, it depends from whom or what you are trying to escape from.

Persisting in Prayer

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Luke 11:10)

Hasty Decisions Cost

At some point in our lives, all of us will face desperate situations. When it happens, the circumstances may be so distressful that they cause unbearable suffering in some form or another, and there seems to be no way out.  

Are you satisfied?

This will try to reach you visually. So many people wonder what is wrong with the world or why they do not care for God or love him as they should we are deeply broken... yet do not stop to think what we pump into ourselves.

Contact us or ask a question

Amyand Park Chapel, Amyand Park Road, Twickenham, Middlesex, TW1 3HY

Sunday Services at 11am and 6:30pm