Some believers are apt to get discouraged because they are facing difficulties, even great hardships and it seems God is not paying them any attention. This is a common sentiment when under stress. It is normal, when you are living right, serving God faithfully and your life is above reproach, and yet you are suffering like an evildoer, to wonder what is going on.
It seems your prayers are having no effect; your pleas for God to act on your behalf, to come to your rescue, to act powerfully and quickly are to no avail. How can God stand by and see you being trampled, ground into the dust, and do nothing?
I think that every believer, at some point along the way, feels this way.
King David certainly felt so, and as we know David was very vocal. Here is what he said, “O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.” (Psalm 22:2)
Job felt so too, he thought what was happening to him was unjust and uncalled for, and though he was not blaming God, nevertheless he had something to say about this, “I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and thou regardest me not.” (Job 30:20)
The truth is that evil is all around us, and had not for God’s mercies we would all be in a far worse place and suffering most dreadfully.
Look around you today and notice the make-up of evil:
1. Evil men are everywhere.
And yes, I mean it exactly so, not evil humanity but the masculine variety. There are evil men out there who are transplanted soul, body and spirit from the antediluvian world; they hate women, despise authority and they delight in filth, destruction and everything pertaining to ungodliness. Because men still control the world, they are the ones flooding the world with the most virulent evil imaginable; child pornography, bestiality, perverted sexuality and endless wars. They are even subverting hapless governments with their ill-begotten riches and getting them to promote their agenda. If you want to know how bad things can become, then here is a verse from Genesis, “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” (Genesis 6:12)
2. Evil instances are proliferating.
That Christian woman in Baghdad, praying with her three children that God will deliver her family from evil only to have her home ripped apart by bombs seeking other targets, and blowing her family to pieces. The man walking home at night and viciously murdered because he happened to walk into the wrong neighbourhood. The woman who is raped because sick minds think she was asking for it. The house blown apart with a family inside because someone deliberately fed the authorities wrong information. The many injustices happening every day, the evil rich getting away with murder, the high and mighty disdaining every good thing in society and the lawmakers showing utter contempt for the very laws they make. And the list goes on.
3. Evil thoughts and agendas are plentiful.
Evil does not just happen, it does not suddenly jump out of the skies; evil is imagined, planned and executed. So called think-tanks do it all the time, individuals with the resources do it all the time, and sometimes dark forces deep in governments and national security are tasked with this kind of activity. This too was part of the antediluvian world, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)
4. Evil companions are abundant.
I was amazed at the number of spouses that kill each other every year. It ranged from those who wanted to just end the marriage, to those who were jealous or envious, to those who were aggrieved over dowry payment, to those who wanted to inherit their partner’s wealth.
5. Evil neighbours are on the rise.
They have always been evil people in the neighbourhood, but those numbers are now being augmented by sex offenders who have been released from prison, and want to live where they are not known, and even ordinary criminals who move to new areas to carry on their criminality.
6. And the greatest evil is around; Satan himself.
It makes no difference what you think, this monster Satan is around and the Bible warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
Since that we, as believers, have so much evil all around us, and remember that in truth we have an evil nature as well, with its evil intents, we are to be vigilant. But how are we to proceed, that the evil will not overwhelm us, or suffocate us to the point where we cannot prosper spiritually?
Believers should be well aware, that despite feelings to the contrary, God has not left us alone; and will NEVER abandon us to our fate. His promise is blissfully sure, “...for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Yes, there are some things that occur that are impossible to explain satisfactorily, (like the Christian woman in Baghdad and her family blown to bits by an American bomb) and some things, no matter how strong our faith, will leave a very bad taste in the mouth (like the painful death of little children). But God does not always ask us to be pleased, but to please trust him; and as believers we should.
All believers are protected by the Lord’s prayer, no, not the one found in Matthews 6:9-13, which in truth is a model prayer, but the genuine Lord’s Prayer found in St John 17: 1-26. Here, in two key verses, is how Jesus prayed for all believers:
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” (St John 17: 20)
“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” (St John 17: 15)
This tells us two very important things:
First, it tells us that the most powerful, important prayers ever uttered by Jesus Christ (that is why this is called The Lord’s Prayer), was for his Apostles who were charged with laying the foundation of the church, and for ALL BELIEVERS who were to come after.
Second, Jesus made a profound request that will last for eternity. He requested, “that thou shouldest keep them from the evil”, and this request, God has honoured, and will continue to honour, for all believers.
To understand how important this is, we need to go back to what we mistakenly call the Lord’s prayer, in Matthew 6, and here is the verse of interest: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13). Notice Jesus is asking his Apostles to ask God to deliver them from evil, not as would be expected, to give them grace, and strength to endure evil, no, but deliver, i.e. saves them from evil.
The truth is that they are two kinds of evil, just two; although there are different varieties.
One kind of evil is generated by people and circumstances. This kind of evil is bearable and as long as believers are faithful, God will make sure that He gives the resources to make them triumphant. Paul puts this into fine words when he said, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
No believer should ever be overwhelmed by this kind of evil, and even when a believer is at the end of his strength, feels he can’t take any more, it is then that God’s unfailing resource takes him to the next level; as David acknowledged, “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2). This rock, Jesus Christ, is where believers get protected and defended, refreshed and comforted as they travel along.
The other kind of evil is direct Satan’s action. There is no human being can stand up against an unleashed Satan, none, so God has Satan under strict control. We know this because the Bible tells us some important things about Satan’s restrictions.
Because God takes care of his own, we know that Satan cannot mess with God’s children, and cannot go beyond his God-restricted limits:
• Satan cannot annoy and pester God’s children continuously, although he can make an annoying approach, but when he is rebuffed he is COMPELLED to flee. Here is the scripture, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Jesus showed us how, when he was tempted of the devil, “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.” (Luke 4:13)
• No demon has ever possessed a Christian throughout the history of Christianity, and never will. The sacred lives of believers are not the place for demons to inhabit and the temple of God, which we are, is never violated by demonic activity.
• Every believer in Christ has a guardian angel, and God is very fierce in protecting his own, “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” (Psalm 34:7)
It is from these, and so much else besides, that we know that God takes care of his children. When faced with mundane challenges, and the hurly burly of Christian living, we are assured that, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
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