“Pray to God before you need Him, and never lose your pride.” (Don’t Ever Sell Your Saddle – Randy Travis)
That one line always confuses me, “Pray to God before you need Him, and never lose your pride.” I don’t think it works that way; the point is that we always need Jesus, and we should always lay our pride at the foot of the cross.
Every moment of every day, we need the strength, wisdom, and love that comes from Jesus Christ. But there are days when we feel like we don’t need Him: work is going well, school is easy, our bodies are working right and getting healthier/stronger, we have great friends and great relationships, and we are making money. When you’ve got life made in the shade, why would you need the light of the Son? In reality, you cannot grow without stepping into the Light, and it is better to be broken than to be crushed; pride comes before the fall. (Matt 21:44, Luke 20:18, Prov 16:18) Every good thing we have comes not from our own strength and wisdom, but from God’s desire to display His abundant and undeserved faithfulness and love. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17)
Every moment of every day, God deserves our utmost praise and adoration for what He has given, and it is only right that we be grateful for the good things He gives. But we must be ready to lose every good thing that we have; knowing that it is God we worship and not the gifts He gives. Whether we lose everything or have everything we could possibly want, God is still worthy of our worship and praise.
God never promised we wouldn’t suffer:
For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s, righteous.
Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death. Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:11-16)
If the world hate you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own, but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, “The servant is not greater than his Lord.”
If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent Me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin, but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father. But this comes to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, “They hated Me without a cause.” (John 15:18-25)
And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets. Who, through faith, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again, and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. And others had trial of cruel mockings and beatings, yes, moreover of bonds and imprisonment; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented (of whom the world was not worthy); they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And all of these, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:32-40)
Passionate followers of Christ lost their homes and all they owned; they lost friends and family; they were tortured, accused falsely, and murdered. And they suffered many of those things at the hands of people who thought they were doing the Lord’s work, when, in actuality, they were showing their hatred of Christ and God the Father. This world is messed up in so many ways. For one, we murdered the Creator of the world, the One Who came to save us. Secondly, those who preach and proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection (and those too innocent to speak up for themselves) are also slain; sacrificed for the sake of pride or a deep hatred of the One True God.
When we take the world at face value, it is a miracle that it still exists. That God has not wiped us out before now is almost beyond my ability to comprehend. His grace and mercy extends through time, and He waits, so that those who are meant to call on His name will have a chance to. In the meantime, when hardships and persecutions come, the tendency is to despair. And all those who are bystanders to injustice may understand how the broken give up, but all those who call God, Father, have received a higher calling: a calling to never give up and never despair, because our God is in Heaven, sitting on His holy throne, and He is not slack concerning His promises.
And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we will reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10)
Finally, be you all of one mind, having compassion one to another, love as brethren, be tenderhearted, and be courteous. Do not repay evil for evil, or railing for railing, but on the contrary, bless; knowing that you are thereunto called, that ye may inherit a blessing.
“Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
And who is he that will harm you, if you be followers of that which is good?
But and if you suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are you. Do not be afraid of their terror, neither be troubled, but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with meekness and fear, having a good conscience, so that, when they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that you suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:8-18)
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9)
I wrote this today, because I learned yesterday the depths of terrible lies told about my family, and those lies have been believed by those who should have stayed by my family’s side. We have been “hated without a cause,” and accused of terrible and slanderous things. Though we are still breathing, it is still hard to breathe, hard to sleep, and hard to think in the face of such hatred that parallels that of Cain’s hatred displayed toward his brother, Abel; his own flesh and blood. Without mercy, Cain murdered his brother, and tried to hide it from God, but Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground. Oh, how our blood cries out, Lord Jesus!
I cried multiple times yesterday, for varying reasons, but I closed the day by writing an entry in My Reasons to Humbly Rejoice. Here is a little piece of what I wrote:
“It is hard to write what I am grateful for today. This hope chest I’m sitting on has been a blessing to me. My dad made it. He made one for each of his children and even gave one to his daughter-in-law. I am grateful for mine, but there are two hope chests in my house, because one of my siblings did not care for dad’s gift…
“First, I lost my cat and then I found out I am an Aunt.
“Truly, Jesus, this day has been hard, but You said Your mercies are new every morning. Please show us Your mercy and love tomorrow, especially to mom and dad. Thank You, Jesus, for loving me and listening. Amen.”
Though the sting of hatred and lies still hurt this morning, yet the time God gave me to worship served as a reminder that His promises are still true. The greatest songs of comfort and strength that I have found are based solely in Scripture. As long as I keep God’s Word hidden in my heart, the fiery darts of the wicked will be quenched, and my soul will find rest.
In the morning, O Lord, wilt Thou hear my voice. In the morning, I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch… I will give thanks to the LORD, according to His righteousness, and will sing praises to the name of the LORD Most High. (Psalm 5:3, 7:17)
It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul, therefore will I hope in Him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:22-26)
But as for me, I will sing of Thy strength, yes, I will joyfully sing of Thy loving kindness in the morning, for Thou hast been my stronghold, and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to Thee, for Thou art my stronghold, the God Who shows me loving kindness. (Psalm 59:16-17)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid… These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world. (John 14:27, 16:33)
Please pray for me and my family; that we would remember God’s promises, rest in His strength, and trust that He will make a way, even if the only way is to step into His eternity.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 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; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that He Who raised up the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
For which cause, we faint not. Though our outward man perishes, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works 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. (2 Corinthians 4:7-18)