Looking At The Invisible

“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen…”

It’s been an exhausting week!  Every day last week kept me running, and I do not function well when I’m that busy.  I like calm days, an organized and clean home, a pleased husband, happy children, obedient dogs, gentle music, and pleasant weather.  And I do not care for the antithesis of any of that.  In addition to being too busy, little things keep happening that have left me mentally, physically, and spiritually drained.  The starter on my suburban is going out, a minor inconvenience.   My husband had $2,000 worth of dental work done on Tuesday, another slight more than slight inconvenience.  A blood vessel in my eye burst, leaving me red eyed for several days.  My sleep waned last night as I prayed for a family dealing with domestic violence. Then to top it off I turned on the news early this morning.  Thirty minutes was all I could stand.  Let me ask; after watching this stuff has anyone ever walked away feeling good?  It’s depressing and if allowed, all of this can serve as a catalyst for discouragement, despair, and defeat.

But then I remembered the words spoken to my heart yesterday through the various teaching and preaching ministries at my church.  Words were spoken to encourage, exhort, admonish, uplift, and even inspire me to press toward the mark of the high calling.  We all have troubles.  They are just another example of truth spoken in John 16:33.  I know to expect them.  It’s called life.  So, why do I fix my eyes upon them?  My flesh cries “me, me, me,” but the spirit within cries, “Look up, look up!  Be renewed day by day!”  Paul, (who understood troubles quite a bit more than I) said, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Co 4:16-18) Perspective sure changes everything!  I’ll be looking up today and it won’t be at things before me.  I’ll be looking at the invisible.

My Unbelief

I had to call a friend a few days ago.  This particular friend is one I call when I need to hear the truth.  You know the type.  She doesn’t tell me what I want to hear; she tells me what I need to hear.  Perhaps you have a friend like this and can relate.   I am very thankful for our friendship.  It is one that could be summed up by Proverbs 27:5-6, “Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend…”  I wanted to have a pity party.  She told me to get my eyes off self.  I wanted to whine.  She told me to rejoice.  I wanted to focus on the negative.  She told me to look at the positive.  I wanted to sit.   She told me to get up and serve.  We’ve had this conversation many times over the years.  Sometimes, like last week, I’m the one who needs the exhortation and sometimes she is.  Either way we have an understanding.  Regardless of our feelings or emotions, the best thing we can do is point each other to the Lord and His Word.

The circumstances are always different, but the outcome is always the same.  It usually goes something like this.  One of us has a problem or small trial in our life.  This should be no surprise.  Jesus said in this world we would have tribulations (John 16:33).  But we still act “as though some strange thing happened…” During the trial we prove that we’re human by worrying and fretting.  After a day or two of self pity one of us will finally get around to calling the other – already knowing exactly what we’re going to hear.

“Why are you worried?”

“It’s just that I don’t see how this could possibly work out.”

“So, this just gives God a chance to prove Himself strong.”

“I know….but there is no human solution.”

“Hasn’t God always provided for you?”

“Yes, but…”

“Hasn’t He always been faithful?”

“Yes, but this time….”

“Has He ever let you down?”

“No, never.”

“Then don’t you know what the Scriptures say?”

“I do.  Just yesterday I was sharing God’s Word with a lady who was having trials of her own.”

“Then it boils down to whether or not you’re going to believe.  The bottom line is this.  Are you going to have confidence in the trustworthiness of God?”

And so, this was just what I needed to hear.  I knew the truth.  I still do.  I have never had a reason to doubt God’s Word.  It says that God will provide for His children (Matthew 6:33).  We are told that He will meet all of our needs (Philippians 4:19).  It says that He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6).  And we are promised peace if we will trust in God (Isaiah 26:3).  Not only are these things so, but time and time again – without fail – God has proven it true.

I do believe…..

But Lord, help my unbelief…….

Sometimes I feel like the father in Mark Chapter 9.  Do you know the story?  This man had a demon possessed son.  If you want to talk about trials and troubles, this man had them.  Look at how the father describes his son with this evil spirit, “And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away… ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us,” Mark 9:18a, 22.   The mother in me wants to weep for this man.  I cannot image the pain from seeing his child like this.  So in desperation, the father takes his son to Jesus’ disciples for help.  Yet, they cannot help him.

How many times do I go to everyone but the One who can and will help me?

When Jesus arrives He offers perhaps the first glimpse of hope this poor father has ever had. He says, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth,” Mark 9:23.

How many times has the Lord whispered these same words to me?  “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed…nothing shall be impossible unto you,” Matthew 17:20.  “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” Luke 1:37.  “And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God,” Luke 18:27.

So this father, as honest and transparent as he can be, with tears in his eyes cries out, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief,” Mark 9:24.

I think I understand what he was saying because I have been there many times.  In fact, I’m still there.  I have faith.  I believe.  But I know that my faith is not as strong as it should be.  My faith is weak.  It is imperfect.  It is flawed in its exercise.  So, like this father who does believe, I too add a prayer for grace, mercy, and strength.  Lord, Please help the weakness of my faith.   Help me to confidently rely upon You.  Show Yourself strong on my behalf and be glorified through my weak flesh and failures.  I believe Lord, just help me in my unbelief.

Just What Kind of Wife Am I?

Last Sunday we began a new small group study from the book of Job.  I am sure most of you are familiar with the tests, trials, and temptations Job faced.  As you read in the first chapter you see the dialogue between God and Satan that initiates his afflictions. 

 “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Job 1:8.  

 Satan accuses God of creating a hedge of protection around Job.  In response, God allows Satan to take all he has (except Job’s life, Job 2:6).  Satan takes the lives of his 10 sons and daughters, takes all of his wealth, and eventually his health.  Job is left with nothing but accusatory friends and his wife.

 I have always found it interesting that Satan did not take the life of Job’s wife.  It would seem to me that would be the quickest way to destroy a man.  But as the story unfolds we see one potential reason for leaving her behind. In the midst of affliction, the advice Job’s wife gives her husband is rather dreadful.  “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die, But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips,” Job 2:9-10.

 However, before we are too hard on Job’s wife, we should remember that these troubles came to her as well.  Imagine losing all your children, in addition to your wealth and security.  Job’s tragedy was her tragedy.  So I do not want to be too judgmental.  But what I do want to look at is how she was used as an instrument of Satan.  Satan’s intent was to destroy Job, his life, and his faith.  In his attempt, he took all Job had.  Satan had the authority to take the life of Job’s wife, yet he left her behind.  Could it be that Satan knew she would be more of a hindrance to him alive than dead?

The influence of a wife is great.  A wife can make a good man greater or bring a good man down. The Bible explains it this way. “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands,” Proverbs 14:1.  One of the easiest ways to destroy your husband, your marriage, or your home is with your words.  Proverbs 18:21 says that, “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  What power the words of Job’s wife must have held.  There is much we can learn from the example of Job’s wife.  I must ask myself, if Satan were to set out to destroy my husband, am I the kind of wife that could be used in his devilish plot? In the midst of tests, trials, and temptations am I a wife that is a help or a hindrance to my husband.  Am I building him up or tearing him down? 

 Job was under spiritual attack, just as all Christian men are under attack.  As spiritual leaders, Satan wishes to destroy their life, testimony, and family.  It is during these spiritual attacks in a man’s life that he needs the loving support from his wife the most.  Often times, Satan will use the troubles of this world to divide husband and wife.  Our eyes become fixed on our problems; words get spoken in haste and fighting begins.  Sometimes it may even seem that our husband is the enemy.  But it is important to remember that believers do not fight against flesh and blood but against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” Ephesians 6:12.  Recognizing this, when we face those hard times husbands and wives need to come together in unity and not fight each other but together fight the Evil One.  

 So, just what kind of wife am I?  Well, you would probably have to ask my husband to get the truest answer.  But I can tell you what kind of wife I desire to be.  My greatest desire is to be a true help meet (Genesis 2:18) that is as a fruitful vine by the sides of his house (Psalms 128:3) and a virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:10) that is a crown to her husband (Proverbs 12:4) whose words are edifying and only minister grace (Ephesians 4:29).