Today it seems that we are inundated with a lot of craziness going on in the world, and we ask, “Why?” and struggle to understand for sure. I’ve also found myself reading or watching a news story and asking, “How in the world can people be so mean to each other?” and then thinking to myself, “I’d never do something like that, that’s terrible!” Uh, oh. Here’s where pride subtly begins to creep in.
In studying this morning, I was reading in John 14:36-38 about an exchange between Jesus and the apostle Peter:
“Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.’
Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Will you lay down Your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.'”
Can you identify with Peter here? I know I can. There have been times in my life where I’ve said, “God, here I am. Wherever You want me to go, and whatever You want me do, I’m willing to surrender all to You.”
And then life starts to happen, and maybe I lose a loved one, or lose a job, or things don’t work out in my family relationships that way that I want them to, or I have a wayward child who walks away from the faith, or a miscarriage. Then what? I’m saying, “No, no, no! Lord, wait a minute! Now, you know I love You, but anything but this! I want a refund – this is not what I signed up for when I said wherever and whatever. I was thinking more along the lines of doing missionary work overseas somewhere, I think I can do that. Or maybe helping the poor or the homeless. Or helping clean the church toilets. But not this!“
Reading this passage between Jesus and Peter is comforting in a way, because it lets me know that I’m not the only one who has overestimated my faith and underestimated my, well, my humanness and my tendency to be a big baby about any type of pain. And my tendency to be proud of my efforts and to look with scorn at everything that is going on and in my pride think, “I’ll never be like one of those people!”
What I’m learning to say, and this is after a lot of things that I have done in my life that I said I’d never do, and then seeing how my actions at those times hurt the people I love, is to say, like the apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain…(1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV).”
So how, then, do we follow Jesus, knowing that it is our human nature to want to chicken out? (See Romans 7:19)
Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
Then Paul goes on to say that “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 NKJV).
I believe in essence what Paul is saying here is, “Yes, you [we] are weak, in and of ourselves and we don’t even know how to pray like we should, but we have the Holy Spirit helping us at all times.”
And for us as believers, God’s word tells us that He is able to bring about some good in every situation. Not that all things that happen are good, by any means, but that God can bring good out of a bad situation somehow, someway.
Paul is telling us, “Yes, we will chicken out, we will get fed up, we will get discouraged trying to do things on our own, but by the Grace of God, we don’t have to! When we become believers we are never alone anymore – ever!”
This has been encouraging to me to study and write this morning. I needed to read and ponder these truths today. Nothing can separate me from His love! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phillipians 4:13 NKJV).” I think that’s a reason to rejoice today!
“Father, I thank You for Your unending love, and Your amazing Grace. I pray that everyone will know Your free gift of salvation and that the Truth shall set them free, Father. I pray that we as believers may walk courageously and be free from fear, doubt, bitterness, and anything that would weigh us down and keep us from running a good race and finishing strong, Lord. Help us through Your Holy Spirit not to be afraid to follow You, and not to turn our backs on You when trials come, but instead draw near to You and know that You are faithful to Your promises, and that You will walk with us through whatever we face, and can bring us peace and comfort during the hard times. Help us to continue giving thanks and looking for the good, Lord, and draw us close to You, that by our lives You may be glorified. In Jesus name I ask these things, Amen.”