I've had to resign from the pulpit due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I spent nearly two weeks at the Mayo Clinic in 2017 for the diagnosis. Needless to say, it's been a great challenge. You face guilt, fears of failure, depression, gossip, worry about the financial future, and you just wish people understood. The television business has also gotten difficult with all of the responsibilities. I've been so blessed, yet challenges keep coming.
Last month, one of our granddaughters had another heart procedure. 4 years ago she had open heart surgery, and now her pulmonary valve replacement had all but completely blown out. The doctors were able to put a new one in without open heart surgery again, and she finally, at the age of 7, has a perfectly working heart. Of course, we were there for the surgery, but upon returning my health took a turn for the worse again.
As is common with CFS, you have good days and bad. Mine were getting better until... It seems that there are few things worse than getting a little hope, and then it comes crashing down the next day. Over and over and over the cycle goes until you find yourself being paranoid. Every life challenge seems to be overwhelming. Mowing the lawn is a three day, planned out activity. The reason I'm sharing this is that you might know that I understand what real stress feels like, especially when doctors say that stress amplifies CFS. The following is just a small part of where I have gone to overcome. In the larger scheme of understanding God's will in this I am finding that living the truth that Jesus is Lord of all has become my greatest source of living hope in every moment.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil 4:6
Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
“careful” - to be anxious about: — (be, have) care(-ful), take thought. AV (19) - take thought 11, care 5, be careful 2, have care 1; to be anxious; to be troubled with cares; to care for, look out for (a thing); to seek to promote one's interests; caring or providing for.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Matt. 6:25
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt. 6:33
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. Matt. 13:22
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41f
And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it (do not be of doubtful mind, KJV (compare “meteor”); to raise in mid-air, i.e. (figuratively) suspend (passively, fluctuate or be anxious; by a metaphor taken from ships that are tossed about on the deep by winds and waves; to cause one to waver or fluctuate in the mind; to agitate or harass with cares): be of doubtful mind.). For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:29f
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
Cares - to separate into parts, cut into pieces, split into factions. It is that which brings a distraction away from the godly intended focus. It is a divided course. Cares here actually cuts us into pieces and leaves us defeated. vs 10 shows that God has called us into glory, to whom be glory and dominion. We may be required to suffer for a season, and while we are, Satan will roar like a lion. It's as if God is releasing demons upon us that we may learn to defeat them by faith - with a stedfast faith!
I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. Ps 27:13,14
Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Ps. 37:4,5
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Ps. 55:22
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. Ps. 56:3-5
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Heb. 13:5,6
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Ps. 27:1
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phil. 4:8
From Daniel 4 I understand better the reality of God as our Lord over all of the affairs of man and this world. I see further that we are created to have dominion over the earth, but our own sin has crippled our ability to exercise it properly. That is why so many bad things happen – sin and our inability to exercise dominion. Jesus is still Lord over all, but He has given dominion to us as well that we might learn through faith, surrender, and communion with Him how to exercise that dominion.
He is Lord of all, over all, and for all. Yet we are so conditioned to believe in human and earthly potential only. From evolution to acts of God, as we call them, we see that we have been taught to believe that everything that happens is based purely on natural laws of science. We are constantly hammered with man’s potential, global warming threats, continuously downward spiraling morality, and continual information on extending and expanding man’s life on earth. We are repetitively bombarded with the need for better medical care, insurance, and pharmaceutical ideas. “Change your lifestyle. Exercise. Eat right. Guard against threats on every side from technology to spreading diseases.” All of our life is consumed with a material avalanche of information about what we must do to get better. We’re told to guard against too much stress, too fragile of an ego, too many drugs, too much alcohol, along with the onslaught of political spin that always promises something better than what we have. Everything is about what is done, what is happening, and what the next step is in understanding our material world. We are so overloaded with information about human potential and science and educational propaganda that the very thought of Jesus as the Determiner of all things is all but totally eradicated.
The very thought of prayer and faith being at the center of all of life is foreign. It is considered radical, fanatical, and fantasy land, best left for the kooks who need a crutch to get through their mental, emotional meltdown of reality. We somehow need a great paradigm shift away from a mindset that is so thoroughly overloaded with a frail and inept life philosophy that faith in God is impossible. Our fundamental view of life must begin with God’s will and word instead of Hollywood, Washington, and the public school system. Throw in the social media that completely mocks any attempt at real truth anytime someone dares suggest that God reigns and we see just how radical our shift must be.
Prayer changes nations, personal lives, and eternity itself. The world’s destiny is determined by God and man’s surrender to Him alone. Homosexuality is a sin against God and mankind. Abortion is murder of a life that God knew before conception. A country void of religion, free from it instead of free to practice it in the marketplaces of education, athletics, and government, is a country that will not stand the challenges of the future. The greatest threat to America is not Donald Trump, socialistic democrats, border security, healthcare’s failures, or the Iran’s and North Korea’s of our time. It is the eradication of faith in God from our daily consciousness. Those who mock biblical values of holiness and faith and refuse it in the central places of government, education, and social media are more dangerous to our future than Nazism, ISIS, or a melting polar ice cap.
God set Israel free from 400 years of Egyptian bondage. He did it through their faith and obedience to Him. God provided for them in the desert. He did it through their faith and obedience. They died in the wilderness. It happened because of their unbelief and disobedience. Israel overcame their enemies in the promised land by their obedient faith towards God. When they followed God, they were blessed. When they fell away from Him, they were defeated. They were conquered by Babylon because of their rebellion and sin. They were brought back through their courageous faith after they had been disciplined thoroughly. David won great battles against his enemies because of his faith in God and the integrity that God demanded. When he failed, God showed him that it was because of his sin. Over hundreds of years God spoke to Israel through the prophets, telling them that if they repented and trusted in Him, they would be spared. If they did not, they would be defeated. None of Israel’s victories came because they got smarter about military principles, political aggression, or educational advances. None of their defeats came because were inferior in any way – though they were always inferior in battle, win or lose. The walls of Jericho fell because they obeyed God through their faith. Elijah stood strong in famine and total opposition, year after year, because he knew his God alone. Jonah survived the storm and the whale and his own angry disposition because God alone was the determiner of the course of his life.
We need a courageous Christianity in America that seeks God’s Kingdom and His righteousness first. We need a pursuit of faith that will stand even when it seems that all of our efforts at personal revival have failed completely. We need to establish a faith that will glory in God no matter what the earth throws at us. It must be centered upon who God is and what He has already done for us and prepared for us, not what comes or doesn’t come based upon the amount of time we give God to answer our prayers for happy earthly outcomes. We must have a faith that can withstand every test of our soul’s hopes and dreams, one that will not fail to cling to our Savior no matter what. May God be glorified by our life and by our death, by our mountain tops and by our valleys. May He be the determiner of our joy, our hope, and our peace no matter how violent the storm gets. It’s one thing to calm the storm by our faith. It’s total victory when we have calmed our souls while the unrelenting storm rages. Let God, and not the information highway of our present day, be the author of our life.
Without allowing this foundation to be laid, God cannot be our true and ultimate treasure. The trials of life, especially those that threaten ultimate defeat, can be those that draw us into the search of faith that makes Him our great treasure. You get to a point where you are reduced to loving and embracing the Lord only, because He has become your only hope and refuge. He becomes the only thing that you can’t lose, and it’s more than ok. You have peace because you hope for nothing else and fear no loss, experience no loss that matters, and live by dying to self in faith. Faith doesn’t just believe in God, it ceases to believe in anything else as our source of well-being. (Common sense here!) There is no other way. As I look towards vacation next week, I worry if I will be healthy enough to enjoy it, or even to go. Yet here us one small example where letting go of this hope releases the greatest hope – the treasure of this Kingdom life which is true abundant life. Let ALL the rest go – the fear of income, the pressure of failure, the handling of ‘stuff.’