Is your heart heavy today? Have you heard more bad news that you feel like you can handle?
We hear the same bad news as everyone around the world: wars, political intrigue, natural disasters, illness, divorce, and broken lives.
But living overseas, we also hear things that trouble us about where we are, and that may affect what we are doing. We would share the burden with our family and supporters back home, but we know they couldn’t understand why we are so troubled by it. They mean well, but it is just too far from their experience to understand. So, we send general prayer pointers while carrying the heavy specifics in our hearts.
The Foundation of God’s Presence
This is surely the time for comfort from Isaiah 33.6-
“He [God] will be the sure foundation of your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”
Reminding ourselves, and others, to turn to God in these times is not like giving a placebo. When administering a placebo, we may say, “This is a miracle pill, it will surely help you.” We know it is just a bitter pill with no power of its own to help. But, maybe if the person believes enough, it may help.
Turning to God, though, is not like that. He is our sure foundation. He is the only one who can comfort us and save us from despair. He is the only one who can make sense out of the confusion we face. Only he can give us the wisdom and knowledge we need. And He will give to us in abundance.
The writer of Psalm 73 was passing through a dangerous season. Like us, he saw the conditions of his world- the injustice and inequality- and seriously thought about giving up on God. “My foot had almost slipped,” he said. In other words, he was losing his foundation.
The turning point came when he went into God’s presence. “Then,” he said, “I understood.” Make no mistake. He did not get answers to the unanswerable questions that bombarded his tired mind. But he did get a fresh perspective:
“Yet I am always with you [God]; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory . . . My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
What a glorious declaration of our trust and hope in God. He is our foundation, but as David said in Psalm 11.3, “If the foundations are destroyed, how can the righteous stand?”
The Foundation of Wisdom
The most common prayer we hear, from our own hearts, and from others, is prayer for wisdom. Sometimes we feel like we should know what to do- that other people would know what to do. What’s wrong with us!
Thank God for James. He reminds us that God gives us wisdom generously and doesn’t find fault with us for asking. How many times I have felt foolish for not knowing what to do? It is a comfort to know God wants me to ask him for wisdom, he wants to give it to me. I may not like the wisdom at first, or may not know how to appreciate it due to my limited understanding. But the Holy Teacher patiently leads us and forms us so that we can embrace His heavenly wisdom.
One Key for a Sure Foundation
Isaiah tells us that the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. Of course, we know it is not fear like a phobia, but rather a healthy respect and recognition of his power and knowledge. Knowing he is able to do more than we can even ask, and trusting him to work on our behalf, is the best way to honor him.
So, what erodes our foundation? Why do people like us, with such a strong God, and his strong promises, feel earthquakes in our souls? I have a few ideas about that.
Busyness. Too much traffic on a bridge will eventually cause it to crumble. God doesn’t work us to the point of exhaustion. He doesn’t want us to fill every moment of every day, doing. I know we hear this message from many sources these days, but we really do need to cut down on unnecessary brain traffic and activities. If we do, God can restore our souls.
Worry. Like the constant drip of water that wears away solid rock, worry can erode our foundation. Are we worried about things we should be praying about and trusting God to handle? A friend says that he thinks that when he reaches his heavenly home, he will be welcomed with open arms. But the next thing the Lord will say to him after, “Well done,” will be, “And you worried too much.” It sounds funny, but the truth is that when we are worrying, we are not trusting.
Excessive Weight. We can take on too many burdens, ones God never intended for us to hold. These can wear us down and cause cracks in our strong foundation.
Neglect. It isn’t that we think we know the Bible so well that we don’t need to keep studying and meditating. We just let other things take our time and interest and slowly we lose our edge. If the Word of God isn’t flavoring our thinking, the first thing that comes to mind, doing it God’s way, isn’t so automatic.
Deception. We know this. We know the enemy will do all in his power to turn us from our source of strength. But sometimes we still let it happen. Like the writer of Psalm 73, we lose our perspective through deceptive information. And like him, we need to go to God for a refresher course in the truth.
Let’s take a fresh look and see what we can do, today and this year, to strengthen our foundations. We want to last for as long as God desires.
We Have to Want It
Dallas Willard said, “If you don’t want it, you won’t work for it. If you don’t work for it, you won’t have what you want.” I think this a good warning to us PWs. If we don’t want strong foundations, we won’t work for them. If we don’t work for these strong foundations, we won’t have them. They don’t build themselves.
We must find time to pour out our hearts to God and to stop long enough to listen to his still small voice in our hearts. If our time alone with God is irregular or shrinking, we can plan time and then guard it from interruptions. Only we can make the time and keep it.
Our foundations are strengthened as we are with other believers. It is easy to feel like we’ve had enough time with believers when we are teaching in a Bible school, or pastoring, or doing member care. But we need fellowship that is deep enough that we help each other notice the cracks in our foundation or see the first signs of stress.
Then, seeing the needs, we help each other back to strength. It can take real effort to find this kind of relationships, but we will be rewarded many times over for the effort.
My husband and I were praying diligently this week for something that looked next to impossible. We carried this in our hearts and minds, stretching our faith for an answer. Two days later, we heard that our friend had learned some new facts, talked to some other people about the problem, and found there was a way to solve the problem that none of us had seen just days before. God gave wisdom through his people and our faith is stronger after trusting God for the answer.
Let me close with a great promise from Romans 15:13
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”