SIMPLE TRUTH: The faith for desperate days

Published 6:02 pm Friday, April 12, 2013

By Charles Christmas

I received a letter of personal encouragement from two precious friends last week. They also shared their heavy prayer burden: “Our daughter had breast cancer about five years ago and it has come back. She began six months of chemotherapy, combined with a trial drug, this week. She is trusting all to God’s will. Thank you for praying. Enclosed is a copy of our devotional on the very day our daughter’s chemo and trial drug began.”

I wish to share some selected thoughts with my readers from the devotional, which was titled “The Faith For Desperate Days.” The scripture reference is Hebrews 11:6: For without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

The Bible is full of desperate days. Its record is made up of them, its songs are inspired by them, its prophecy is concerned with them, and its revelation has come through them.

In Psalm 107, there are four accounts of people facing desperate situations. In every account of deliverance, the point of desperation gave God his opportunity. Check out verses 6, 13, 19 and 28, and include the verse before and after each.

Our “wits end” of desperation can be the beginning of God’s powerful work toward us. It was when Abraham and Sarah were at the desperate childless age of 90-plus that God came on the scene saying, “I am the Lord God Almighty!” It was when the Israelites were hemmed in on every side that God parted the waters of the Red Sea. It was when Louise and I had been cast into the pit of desperation, after a surgery that paralyzed her, that I cried out for a word from God. He gave help and grace to “live in the pit” and then to be “delivered from the pit.”

Sometimes it takes as much praying in faith, and the grace and help of God, to endure a desperate situation as it does to be delivered out of it. The first part of Hebrews 11 is about the deliverances God gives through faith, but the latter part of the chapter is about the desperate situations and experiences people endured by faith.

Remember the stand of faith by the Hebrew youth to not renounce their God, even under the sentence of death by burning. They affirmed, “Our God whom we served is able to deliver us and he will.” And they continued, “But if not, be it known unto you, we will not renounce our God!” We must have that “but if not” faith. Allow for God to do a greater work, as he may answer: “I will not deliver you out of the desperate situation, but I will give you my grace, help and presence to endure, so that you may know me better and glorify my name more brightly.” We must have the prayer trust of our Lord Jesus: “Father, all things are possible with you. Take this cup from me. Father, if possible, take this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.” Oh, Father, give us the faith when we must face the “nevertheless” of any such desperate days.

The bottom line of our faith and assurance for any and all desperate situations and experiences is found in Romans 8: Who or what shall be able to separate us from the love of Christ: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, poverty or war? No, in all of these things we are more than conquerors through God who loved us. Nothing in life or death, any angel or demon, nothing in the present or future, nothing above or below and nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Under hardships we suffered, far beyond our ability to endure; we felt we could not stand it any longer, and death was on us. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He delivered us from such deadly peril: 2 Corinthians 1:8-10.

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.