Winter 2009: You Never Know
Author: Dan Gabbert
Publish date:
 
 

You may have heard this story before, but it’s a thought-provoker:

In a country long ago, an aging farmer went to his barn and found that his horse had run away. His neighbor, always alert to what was happening, said, “Oh, how terrible,”

But the farmer replied, “You never know.”

The next morning the horse returned accompanied by another horse. To this the neighbor exclaimed, “Oh, how wonderful!”

And again the farmer said, “You never know.”

That afternoon, as the farmer’s son rode the horse, he was thrown off and broke his leg. The neighbor said, “That is horrible,”

But the farmer repeated, “You never know.”

The following day soldiers came looking to press recruits into the army, but seeing only the aging farmer and his injured son they left. To this the neighbor said, “What a wonderful stroke of luck,”

And the farmer answered, “You never know.”

As this story shows through the responses of the farmer and his neighbor, the way we react to the situations we face in life are based upon our perceptions—the way we view the situation.

Is the situation really what it seems to be? You never know.

The Bible is full of stories in which God has allowed His people to face situations, even though at first glance they seem extremely threatening. Many times, it appears that all would be lost if they chose to remain faithful to the Lord’s will and way of responding. Consider these examples:

Joseph—sold into Egyptian slavery by his own brothers, he was taken advantage of for his integrity and cast into prison. It appeared that everything was going wrong. However, with God, you never know! (Genesis 39-45)

Daniel and his friends—taken into Babylonian captivity, they were pressured to compromise their integrity and faithfulness to the Lord or lose their lives. The future looked extremely bleak. However, with God, you never know! (Daniel 3)

King Asa and Judah—being attacked by an overwhelming host of Ethiopian warriors, Asa thought the enemy would destroy the nation. However, with God, you never know! (2 Chronicles 14)

King Jehoshephat—attacked by the Moabites and Ammonites, he was in an incredible crisis. However, with God, you never know! (2 Chronicles 20)

Picture King Jehoshaphat standing in the temple court before his people, pouring out his soul in prayer, pleading God’s promise, confessing Israel’s helplessness: "O our God…we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee" (2 Chronicles 20:12).

And picture our mighty God, responding through His servant Jahaziel,"Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s" (2 Chronicles 20:15).

Four Hope-Filled Promises

In spite of outward appearances, all the evidences and all the promises in God’s Word indicate that it is extremely valuable–in every situation we face–to trust God. Regardless of what kind of difficulties you are experiencing in your life right now, there is something about those threatening situations that God knows that you don’t know.

What might that be? Consider these next four Bible promises that put everything we face into a hope-filled perspective–four promises that have freed me personally to experience a little more of the abundant peace of Christ regardless of the challenging trials God has allowed me to face thus far:

1. Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (NKJV).

No matter the situation, there is freedom in accepting that the only thoughts God has for me are thoughts of peace.

I’m afraid many of us catch ourselves responding to God’s efforts like the woman who was driving home from work one evening and noticed in her rearview mirror a truck tailgating her. She became more concerned when every time she tried to speed up to put some distance between her and the truck, the trucker would stay right on her tail.

She spotted an off-ramp to a gas station and pulled onto it to find help. The trucker followed. Pulling up to the gas station pumps, she jumped out of her car and ran into the station and cried for the attendant to call 911. Looking back to her car, she saw the driver jump out of his truck, run over to her car, jerk the back door open, and pull a man off the floor of her back seat. In a few short moments the police pulled into the gas station and assisted the truck driver in subduing and handcuffing a man who turned out to be a convicted rapist.

The man who appeared to be a mad trucker trying to do the woman harm was actually a sincere unknown friend, who, from the high vantage point of his truck cab, had seen the danger she was in, and determined to save her from incredible danger.

Is there a lesson in this story for us? I wonder how often we, because of the way we perceive a threatening situation, fall into the same experience. We run away from God’s help, thinking He’s trying to hurt us, rather than thanking and praising Him for the way of deliverance and healing He is actually offering us!

How often do we, like the neighbor in the opening story, immediately react to situations, judging things as good or bad without giving God the opportunity to reveal His viewpoint?

Instead of staying in an unhealthy reactive condition when a threatening situation crops up, let’s remember that no matter what is happening, God’s thoughts for us are only for our best and eternal interests.

2. John 19:11a

You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above (NKJV).

This verse is wonderful news. The Enemy has no power at all against us except that which God allows for our personal growth! For someone desiring to follow Christ, trials are like spiritual weight-lifting equipment. God calls us to exercise our faith muscles not to hurt us, but to strengthen our faith (James 1:2-4).

3. 1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (NKJV).

This text is a key to answering a dilemma that many Christians have struggled with when facing difficult trials in their lives. The challenging dilemma is found in Psalm 34:19:

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all (NKJV).

The Lord delivers us out of all our afflictions? What about the faithful Christian who goes all the way to death expecting the Lord to deliver them?

According to 1 Corinthians 10:13, God did deliver them. Deliverance is not necessarily from physical pain or death, but rather deliverance is from the temptation to turn from God and disobey Him because of our circumstances. God always provides the power of His grace to help us bear the trial and remain faithful to Him through the difficult situations. He delivered Daniel, He delivered Joseph, and He delivers us.

4. Romans 8:28-29

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.

God longs to recreate and restore us back into His image. Because we know these truths about God’s character, we can truly give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

What a restful peace to know that no matter what happens, God’s thoughts toward us are only thoughts of peace to give us a future and a hope.

What awesome relief to realize that nothing can touch us except by God’s permission.

What freedom to know He will never allow us to be tempted and tried beyond the strength He provides us to remain faithful to Him through the trial.

What an energizing calling to give thanks for everything He allows us to experience because we know that everything He allows will work together for our best and eternal good to make us more like Him. As Roman 8:31 asks, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”

And because of Christ’s sacrificial life and death, a way has been provided for all of us to live an eternal existence free from all evil! We can be set free if we choose to surrender our lives to God’s leading and accept Christ’s death on the cross for our sins (See Revelation 21:3-4).

Let’s respond to God’s calling by living in a way that pleases Him. Here are some suggestions:

1. Take time daily to know God (John 17:3).

2. Practice keeping your mind stayed upon God by choosing to think His thoughts about the threatening situation you may be facing (Isaiah 26:3).

3. Based upon His thoughts found in His Word—regardless of threatening outward appearances—choose to respond in loving faith to His will, not your own. Follow the path of Jesus, who prayed while He was on Earth, “not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36 NKJV).

To all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest. They will look back with thankfulness upon the darkest part of their way. “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly,” 2 Peter 2:9. From every temptation and every trial He will bring them forth with firmer faith and a richer experience (DA 528).

Remember, with God, you never know!

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