Strong Faith In Difficult Times

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Series: Visiting Speakers

Sun am 8 March 2015 – Theo Niemand

Rom. 4:18-22; Luke 22:32; (Gal. 3:11); Heb. 11:1-11; John 16:33; 1 Chron. 5:18-20; Ps. 119:92;
Ps. 3:4; (Neh. 8:10); (James 1:2-4); Ps. 30:5-11; (Ps. 22:3); Isaiah 54:2-10

In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform (Rom. 4:18-21). We all face difficult circumstances in life at some or other time. We all go through barren periods, difficult circumstances where there is no fruitfulness in our lives. These circumstances many times have the ability to reveal to us how strong the foundation of our faith in Christ is. Let me remind us this morning that there is an enemy going about like a roaring lion seeking for you and me to forsake our faith in God. The enemy wants to bring us to that place where we eventually say that it is not worth serving God. The prayer of Jesus for Peter was that his faith should not fail (Luke 22:32). Our faith is foundational to our walk with God and our relationship with God. It is not a faith by works but it is faith by grace (Rom. 4); grace that enables you to reveal that faith in difficult times. Therefore the word of God says that the just shall live by faith (Gal. 3:11). That is the lifestyle God is calling the just to – the just shall live by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). The genuineness of Abrahams’s faith was being tested. The word says Abraham was strengthened in his faith in the most difficult circumstances, he went through a barren period and without weakening in his faith he faced the facts.  Faith does not deny the facts or the circumstances but the word of God says despite the facts and the circumstances Abraham focussed on the promise. Abraham did not deny that he was impotent or that he was 100 years old. He did not deny the fact that Sarah’s womb was dead. God gave him a promise that in his seed He would bless the nations (Gen. 22:18). The facts said that it was impossible but the promise of God said it was possible.

How did he face the facts without weakening in his faith? The word of God says he did not waver at the promise (Rom. 4:20). He believed God’s promise without unbelief in his heart. Faith is the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). Faith does not deny the facts but faith supersedes the facts. His faith accounted him as righteous (Rom. 4:22). He faced the facts while focussing on the promise of God. If we face the facts and we forget the promises of God then unbelief, discouragement, negativity, hopelessness sets in and the enemy comes in and robs us of the promise of God. He robs us of our rightful inheritance. The same with the twelve spies when they had to go into the land of Canaan. They went into the land of Canaan looking at the facts instead of the promise of God. It is also important for us to understand that faith also believes that God is able. It is so simple yet many times we forget it. We many times are so overwhelmed by the circumstance that we forget God is able. The word of God says Abraham was fully persuaded that what God had promised He was able to do (Rom. 4:21). The difference between being fully persuaded and being partially persuaded is doubt. The word of God also says that faith not only believes that God is able but also that God is willing. You must believe that God is willing.

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive and she bore a child when she was passed child-bearing age because she judged Him faithful who had promise (Heb. 11:11). She believed that God was willing to do what He said He could do. The word of God also says that faith believes that God is a rewarder. Who does God reward? He rewards those who diligently seek Him, who live in trust and confidence; holding on to God and not wavering in unbelief.

We know that Jesus never promised us a trouble-free life. He said in this world you will experience trials, temptation, persecution, difficult circumstances (John 16:33). When life happens we all ask the same question, “Why me Lord?” Instead we should ask, “Lord how can I respond in a way that will please You and will bring honour and glory to Your name. How can I endure these difficult times Lord and still glorify You?” That is what God has called us to, to be different in difficult circumstances. It is not easy. The question is how can you be sure that your faith remains strong during difficult times? Very simple, you have to abide in God’s word; stay in God’s word. If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction (Ps. 119:92). During difficult times many Christians drift away from God instead of drawing closer to God. To remain strong in your faith through difficult times you must take hold of God in prayer. In prayer and by faith I can focus on God’s ability and what He is able to do for me despite my circumstances. They were helped against them, and the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hand; for they cried out to God in the battle, and He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him (1 Chron. 5:20)

When David was fleeing from his son Absalom, I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain (Psalm 3:4). I believe we have lost the art of crying out to God in difficult circumstances.

We also need to respond with joy to stay strong in our faith during difficult circumstances. Nehemiah says the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10). James says we should consider it or count it all joy when all these circumstances come (James 1:2-4). Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).  You have turned for me my morning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness (Ps. 30:11). We need to learn how to respond with joy.

God’s people, Israel, are in captivity and we know that they are God’s wife. They are likened to a barren woman. In those times barrenness was shameful, despicable and disgraceful; it was a disappointment. Barrenness speaks of unfruitfulness but we see that barrenness is not God’s idea. Even when we are in those circumstances and we feel as if it is a barren situation and there is no fruitfulness, God wants you to bear fruit (Isa. 54:1-8). Like Abraham and Sarah, like Elkanah and Hannah, like Zachariah and Elizabeth. All of us experience times of barrenness. We are so overwhelmed by our circumstances that we feel our faith is not strong enough. In those times it feels like we do not hear the voice of God. If we are contained within the barrenness of the circumstances then the enemy can come and rob us of the promise of God in our life. Just like the promise to Abraham, God has given us promises. He said, “I will bless you, I will multiply you and I will make you fruitful”. When you break out of your barrenness you will give birth to an extraordinary baby. That is why the enemy wants to contain you and keep you in that position of barrenness. He is afraid that you will give birth to an Isaac, to a Samuel or to a John.

Like Israel God is preparing you for expansion. God is planning for overflow in your life. The fact is you have to break out of your bareness. Sing o barren one, break out, break forth, break into singing, crying aloud. We need to sing out, break out with singing otherwise our situation will contain us and we will be robbed of the promises of God just as Israel in that situation. They also asked, “How can you expect of me to cry out and to sing when I am in this barren situation?” It is a cruel thing when someone has lost a loved one or when you have an incurable disease, it is difficult to say to someone break out in singing when you are in that barren circumstance. When you are in that circumstance it feels as if God has forsaken you, God has hidden His face from you, but do not let the enemy distort your picture of Father God. Do not let him make you question the integrity and the character of God, because God loves you. He has not forsaken you. The word of God says He is merciful, He is faithful, and He is a good God. What we must do in these times of barrenness is to take hold of God by faith and hold on to the promise despite the facts. Do not waver through unbelief; be fully persuaded because God is able and willing to fulfil His promise. Keep on trusting and seeking God because He says He will reward you. Abide in His word; take hold of God in prayer as Hannah and Zachariah did, and many others. The most important is to respond in joy; start to sing and say “I am coming out of my barren situation. I am coming out of my circumstance.” Through weeping you will be able to say, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”. We must be able to deal with our barrenness through worship. He is enthroned on the praises of Israel (Ps. 22:3). Whenever God’s people exalt Him and praise Him in difficult circumstances, it invites God to invade their circumstances and to manifest His power and His glory.

Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords And strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations And will resettle the desolate cities. Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced (Isa. 54:2-4). Through an act of faith we must make room for God to expand us. For a brief moment I forsook you, But with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you, Says the Lord your Redeemer. For this is like the days of Noah to Me, When I swore that the waters of Noah Would not flood the earth again; So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you Nor will I rebuke you. For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken, Says the Lord who has compassion on you (Isa. 54:7-10). God is going to bring you through.