I think its fair to say that there are three things we all share:
- We want to stay safe. We dont want ourselves or anyone we know to fall victim to the Corona virus.
- We dont want our money to go away. Nobody wants money trouble or to lose their jobs.
- We want Corona to just go away. Period. Disappear.
Lets look at 3 well-known verses (well, technically 4):
Prov. 3.5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
To trust God is to rest in the reality that God is sovereign. It means we have confidence in His wisdom (and how He is at work in our lives), working out salvation history to His ends. It is a confidence in the person, wisdom, and work of God.
Its belief, its knowledge, and its the love relationship itself. When we trust God, we are acknowledging before Him that we dont know what the next minute will bring. Our ways, our thoughts, our intuitions, and preferences, have to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12.2). We have enough knowledge about His character and His ways that we can trust in Him rather than ourselves. We know who we are in Him and where we stand. And we know that He always treats his children with love.
What the proverb means is that our default is to live by our intuitions, our habits, our preferences, or anything uswhat is natural for us or what we think is best. This verse calls for a total reorientation of ourselves, to trust in God. Now, we all know how hard this is, because God doesnt talk to us the way we want, and what we think he is saying based on what thoughts come to our head are notoriously unreliable. So instead we have to trust God more than our own resources.
It doesn’t mean we don’t filter things through our own understanding, but that we try to learn to think as God thinks, and to live by his values and priorities as more reliable than our own. The author says virtually the same thing in v. 7: Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. The wrong path, perspective, and spiritual blindness become so engrained they become convinced its true. This is both natural and understandable. People dont hold to what they know to be false. They think theyre right. But not everyone is right. We have to approach knowledge as a journey, and with humility. When pride enters the picture, so does danger. We can actually become quite wise, and even know some of the mysteries of the ages (Lk. 8.16-18; 1 Cor. 13.2), but I still shouldn’t think of myself more highly than I ought (Rom. 12.3). We must be on guard that God is always our reference point.
And He will make your paths straight means that God will lead you, little by little, to His ends in the course of your life. It doesnt mean He will work out every situation to your pleasure and satisfaction. In Gods hands we are a long-term project, and God is working to bring us to His purposes.
1 Peter 5.7: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Lifes problems cause us to worry. Pain is a funny thing. It takes away your ability to think clearly, rationally and outside your little world sometimes. In addition, we are afraid that if we act with total and continual submission to others and in complete humility that we will be poor CEOs, lousy spouses, push-over parents, weak businessmen and politicians, and terrible bosses. We dont trust that God will work it out and help us to be effective. Thats why we live with so much personal power: we think its the way to get things done and so that people respect us. Jesus says no. If you want to be the leader, be the servant. If you want to be first, make yourself last. If you want people to follow and respect you, be an example. The world tells us to lord it over people; Jesus tells us to obey the Lord who is over us. And throw all your resultant anxiety on God, who will work through you. He will be the Lord so you dont have to.
God cares for you. It is not Gods modus operandi to make ridiculous demands (first last, humble self, submit to others) and then let us fail. When He tells us to do something or to be a particular kind of person, He will then come beside us to support us in it. God endorses the success of His own strategy.
Phil. 4.6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
God want us to pray. He invites us to ask, he wants us to feel free to ask, and he likes it when we ask. He loves you. He wants to give you good gifts. He wants your life to be full of joy, so why are you anxious? I knowits because this Earth is a sometimes dangerous place and life is full of vulnerabilities and uncertainties.
Prayer is one of the greatest privileges and powers for life. It has no parallel with regard to our relationship with God and its spiritual benefits to ourselves and those in our orbit. But it is also one of the most difficult and frustrating spiritual disciplines, so much so that many people simply cannot find the will to develop any patience or proficiency in prayer, nor the strength to persist in it. The result is that prayer, in many believers and in many churches, is minimalized, trivialized, or completely ignored.
The primary goal of prayer, contrary to popular opinion, is not asking for things and getting things, but abiding. Prayer is how we relate to God: We talk to Him about our day, our relationships, our tasks, anxieties, fears, and questions. In prayer we meditate on Scripture, mull it around in our heads, and let the Lord speak to us through the text and give us understanding. In prayer we think about what God is like and let His truths saturate us.
As we pray we will discover that our inner persons are being transformed and remade. We will find that the way we think changes, our attitudes will adjust, and well get nudges about our behavior. God will strengthen us, guide us, and convict us. As we abide in Him, He will suggest to us what to ask for so that our wills start to conform to His, our thoughts to His thoughts and our ways to His ways.
Prayer is a constant affair, not just a few minutes set aside each day. As soon as we waken, we are talking to God before our feet even hit the floor. We can meditate on His Word while we brush, shower, and get ready. We can talk to God about our day as we drive to work. All through the day we fill our minds with Bible texts, talking to God about what is going on around us, and make requests as God leads.
It also helps to set aside part of each day just to meditate on His Word. Pick a verse or a passage (start with pieces of Psalms, but then branch out to various verses in Pauls epistles), close your eyes and go over and over it, thinking about the words, phrases, and concepts. Let God speak to you through His Word, and let Him enrich your life. In the process you will end up talking to God about the thoughts in your mind, the anxieties in your heart, and He will reveal Himself to you.
This is no mystery. Its what the Bible teaches us about prayer. What it takes is keeping God first in your heart all day and every day, and setting your mind on things above. Its a commitment to know God and the power of His resurrection. Its a devotion to His Word and to be found in Him. Abiding. Meditating. Acting in the power of His Spirit.
You will find that your life is transformed. You will discover true and daily spiritual power. You will know the daily presence of God in your life. You may even see the environment and people around you changing. Its such a win-win situation, one has to honestly wonder why so many minimalize, trivialize, and ignore prayer. Nothing worthwhile is easy. If we dedicate ourselves to it, we will see the power of the Lord at work.
I hope something Ive said will be of help to you today. May God have mercy and help this pandemic go away soon. We stay in prayer for our families, friends, and our whole world at a time like this. In John 16.33, Jesus said, I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. Our highest goal is peace with God more so than freedom from anything negative in this world. Find inner peace with God, and the troubles of the world will take their proper place.