Are you struggling through a trial right now? When you think of the challenge before you, does it make your heart sink?
We all face challenges and trials in life. It’s part of the human existence. But, the great news is we don’t have to face it alone.
Jesus said, “He’d never leave us or forsake us.” (Hebrews 13:5)
I love in Psalms 23:4 that it says, “even through I walk through the valley of the SHADOW of death, I will fear no evil.”
Did you know our challenges are just shadows?
That can’t ultimately hurt us. Jesus defeated death, hell and the grave. (Colossians 2:15 - triumphed over them by the cross)
But those shadows sure can be scary when we encounter them in that dark valley.
When I was a child, there was a particular shadow that would appear in my hallway at night. It was a guy with a knife in his hand and he would walk down the hall towards my room. I would close my eye and when I opened them, he would be back where he started.
Holy moly that was scary!! My poor dad had to answer the screams of a terrified little girl more than a few times.
Real or not, that shadow was scary! But, when my daddy came to my rescue, it brought peace to my tormented soul.
We all encounter scary shadows throughout our lives. They walk toward us threatening to take us down.
But, I have good news!
Our Abba Father is right there with us! We not alone! (Hebrews 13:5)
On top of that, we’ve been given powerful tools to help us through.
Today, let’s talk about one of these powerful tools to help us walk past the scary shadows in our lives.
To help us understand our today’s tool, let’s go back to an incident–serious life threatening situation–that Jesus and His disciples went through.
Mark 4:35-41 NASB
35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side." 36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"
Let’s read part of that passage in the Amplified version of the Bible:
And they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are about to die?” 39 And He got up and [sternly] rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still (muzzled)!” And the wind died down [as if it had grown weary] and there was [at once] a great calm [a perfect peacefulness]. 40 Jesus said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith and confidence [in Me]?”
Why did Jesus rebuke them for being afraid. They thought they were going to die? How insensitive of Him right?
Well, this incident with the storm came right after a day of Jesus talking to the crowd in parables (Mark 4:1-34).
The first was the parable of the sower, but here’s how Jesus started the talk:
Mark 4:3, ”Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow…”
Listen in the Greek (akoúō) means, to hear (listen). But it also means, to hear God's voice, which is part of Him birthing faith within.
Jesus starts off telling everyone to really listen to hear God’s voice. God’s going to birth faith in them as they hear this parable.
Later in the day Jesus says in verse 23, "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."
Hear in the Greek is the exact same akoúō–listen to hear God which is part of the birthing of faith.
Jesus only spoke in parables to the crowd, but verse 34 says, “but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.” Jesus didn’t leave his disciples hanging. He explained each parable to His disciples. He wanted them to grasp something.
After Jesus finished teaching the crowd, he released the crowd and turned to His disciples and said let’s go over to the other side.
On that day, when evening came, He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side."
He concluded all that they learned that day with, “We’re going to the other side of the lake.” He didn’t say, let’s go out in the lake so we can die. He gave His word they would make it to the other side.
After Jesus calms the storm, He says to His disciples in verse 40, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
Faith in the Greek is pístis: persuasion (God giving His persuasion)
This is the God given faith. A persuasion He gives us.
We can see from the disciples reaction to the storm, they weren’t fully persuaded that what Jesus said would come to pass.
After all Jesus taught that day, they didn’t really “listen.” They didn’t receive the faith that Jesus was trying to impart to them.
I don’t know if Jesus wanted them to take authority over the storm and calm it themselves or at least not be in a panic when they came to Him asking for help knowing it would all be ok.
Either way, they missed out on what Jesus wanted to do through them. They missed out on experiencing the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) because they rested in the fact that Jesus told them they were going over to the other side.
Philippians 1:6 NIV
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
How about you? Are you fully persuaded with the God given faith that you’re going to make it through that “valley of the shadow of death”? When that storm comes, can you stand there and tell it, “peace be still”?
If not, you may be asking yourself, “How do I get this Faith–This God given persuasion”?
Listen to hear and let God birth faith in you.
Romans 10:17 NKJV
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
We talked earlier that in order to receive this faith–this God given persuasion–we need to “listen.”
Spend time in God’s word listening. Listening with an open heart to receive this faith/persuasion from Him.
If we just read for the sake of reading, we’re missing out on what our Father wants to birth in us.
We have to actively read in a way that we’re listening to what God wants to show us.
As we develop this “Listening” skill, we’re developing Faith–God given persuasion. It’s this Faith that will take us through the valley of the shadow of death that is coming against us.
How? Because we will actually believe what God told us. We’ll believe what our Father promised us through the ‘Finished work of Christ.’
Remember, it’s just a shadow. And, we’re not staying in the valley. We’re just passing through. We’re going over to the other side.
Next time we’re going to develop some strategic “Listening skills” so we can develop this Faith–God given persuasion.