GOD WHEN I NEED HIM?
By John C. Miller
Only moments before, the disciples had eaten a quiet supper with their Lord. Now they were walking to Jesus' favorite place, the Garden of Gethsemane, where He had spent many nights in prayer and in communion with them. It is not difficult for us to imagine them singing a hymn as they walk. Everything appears to be all right. But suddenly... chaos! In an instant, the scene changes. Judas betrays the Lord Who is ruthlessly taken into custody. The disciples flee. All becomes pandemonium. Everything happens so very quickly. What does it all mean? Questions and more questions flood the minds of His followers. Next, they hear that Jesus was taken here and then there and finally... unjustly condemned to death! A tragic succession of shocking events.
Strange sentiments beat within the hearts of His followers as they witness the unimaginable: They see their Lord, beaten and exhausted, dragging himself along, bearing a heavy cross. The soldiers take hold of Jesus, nail Him to the cross and raise it up. Their Lord and King is being crucified! Yes, they are all in a state of shock. Later they see Him laid in another's sepulchre. His devoted attendants, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are seated by the sepulchre--still unable to put their thoughts in proper order, unable to accept what has happened. Before them is the coldness of the tomb. Death is there. We are not told how long these two women remained there. Possibly they left when the silence was interrupted by the voices and curses of the soldiers, who instead of enjoying a night of rest, had to stand guard at the tomb. Maybe both women thought they would be arrested too. Reality finally overcomes their state of shock. His disciples too, sense their own immediate danger. Jesus is dead, and they, as members of that "sect", would certainly be persecuted and killed too.
What am I trying to show you by bringing all these things to mind? May I simply extract from all this a precious pearl for you to treasure. As I think of these difficult moments which encompassed the lives of these beloved followers of Christ, I find similar circumstances surrounding us today. Often we enjoy an atmosphere of peace, faith and joy in a meeting or at a conference. This atmosphere forms a hedge about us and separates us - momentarily - from the reality of our daily lives. But things are different when we go back home, sit on our bed and face the harsh reality of the week ahead: bills to pay, problems with no solutions, a job lost, illness or a bereavement. We seek to be saved from the situation without realizing that it is an opportunity for the Lord to be glorified. We do not sing "Be Thou glorified" when family problems occur or when that bill comes and we don't have enough money to pay it; or when we have problems with no solutions or when we are fired from our job. We don't clap and shout, "Hail! Christ is King!" when the doctor announces the gravity of an illness. No, in adverse situations we're not prone to quickly say, "Lord, be Thou glorified!" Why? Isn't our life hidden in Christ, and shouldn't it ever be for the glory of His Name? Instead, the problems we face grip us, and we worry because we don't understand the eternal purposes of all that happens to us.
Let's go back a moment. Jesus was gone. The sustaining power of even just a moment in His presence was no longer there. The One Who always helped them - gone. The One Who always encouraged them - gone. (italics) The One Who always had the answers for all of their problems - gone. The One Who always kept their hearts and minds at peace - GONE!
Often we find ourselves in perplexing situations. We arrive at church with our hair standing up on end and not knowing which way to turn. Then His Spirit comes, God speaks His word; and once again our thoughts are properly directed, and we see that all is well. But all to soon after leaving the church building we are smitten again with worries, and we wonder (The following is in italics) "Where is the pastor when I need him? Where is he when I am up a tree? Where is the pastor to get me down again and tell me all will be well? I want to call him on the telephone, but the telephone doesn't work. I pick up my Bible, but I can't read it--my glasses are broken, and I don't have enough money to replace them. He's gone! The one who helped me. The one who was always there to encourage me, to say the right words, and to tell me what to do in any circumstance. He is gone!"
Where is God when I need Him? I need Him today! Now!
What remained for the two Marys when Jesus was gone? They were seated near the tomb facing a cold night, and soldiers, and uncertainty. And what lay beyond that? The reality of life, and the awful emptiness inside that always follows the loss of a loved one.
At a funeral we sing inspirational hymns to lift our spirits, but when we get back home the bed remains cold and empty; the loved one answers no longer. Husband or wife, father or mother isn't there anymore.
Now let me quote from the Son's beautiful prayer to His Father. We find it in John 12:28, "Father, glorify thy name." The Father's answer was, "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." John 14:1 reminds us, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you." Now note these words: "I go." He went to prepare a place for us. (Italics) But weren't there already many mansions? Yet He said, "I go to prepare a place..." Of course there are many people who go to heaven. Is there a shortage of rooms, maybe? Perhaps little apartments that need preparing? Excuse me, but He was not speaking of a place as you and I understand it.
In II Corinthians 11 we find the account of a man much loved by the Lord. He did not enjoy the privilege of being one of the disciples but emerged after the death of Jesus. The Lord gave him a place of importance: the responsibility for the gospel that the church would follow for nearly two thousand years. God's name was greatly glorified in this man's life, inspite of the hardships he faced. Think on this: "...in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."
Let me ask you something. Where was God when Paul received the stripes on his back, or suffered nakedness and hunger and persecution? I shall tell you where. He was preparing a place for him. Was He with him or not? Could it be that when we think God is not there, He really is. Could it be that God's world is like that? When we think He is far away, He is actually very close. Remember this when you get back home-tomorrow or the next day, when things happen to you that shake you, remember it then. "I go to prepare a place for you." The place God is preparing for His people is not a place here on earth where you can have a good time. I Peter 1:3 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope..." so that we, in eternity, can live without doctors, without problems, without loneliness, without anguish, with no need of money, without doubts, without unbelief. "...by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible..." Ah, great! I am going to receive an inheritance! A rich uncle I didn't know about has died, and I shall receive a letter saying: 'You are now the possessor of a million dollars'. You see, brother, you see, neighbor-- Follow the Gospel and you will see what happens to those who are evangelicals: Everything goes well for them. Do not be misled! In the world today one hears many lies. God is not interested in giving us fifty years of happiness on earth. He is giving us an eternity of glory in heaven. It says, "...to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." Where then is all that inheritance? Reserved in heaven. When a believer leaves behind his body and when someone who has not been born in Christ leaves his body--that is where the differences of inheritance begin. That is where the Christian receives from God an incorruptible inheritance that can not be tarnished by sin or by the world, an incorruptible inheritance reserved in heaven for every believer. God has prepared every circumstance of our lives, and He is in each one of them. From above He orders and takes care of every detail that happens in our lives. "And we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice." Rejoice! "...though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations." When a trial comes clap your hands, then talk to the pastor and say to him, "Pastor, I want to tell you that I praise God; I glorify and magnify Him because He is Lord and Master of everything. Because, just now, this has happened to me..."
"Wherein ye greatly rejoice." When you go home and feel bombarded by doubts, rejoice! When you are going through moments of loneliness, rejoice! Don't ask for a way of escape. Don't cry out, "Lord, I can't stand it anymore!" Rejoice because God is preparing a place for you. "The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory..."
I Peter 4:12 comforts us: "Beloved..." It's a good thing Peter began with "beloved" otherwise, we would think God hated us. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: but rejoice." Again, that word "rejoice!" Mary, you who rejoiced when you knew that you had conceived the Son of God in you, sing this song again. "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Sing it now, Mary! Sing it before the tomb. "For he hath done to me great things." Yes, sing it, Mary, because life is not just food or money. Life is an incorruptible inheritance which He is preparing for us.
"Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings." "That, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." And when He suffered, the Father said, "I am being glorified."
If we had ears to hear, we would hear these words: "I have been glorified, and I shall continue to be glorified in your life." Hallelujah!
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