Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. I will praise You forever, Because You have done it; And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good. — Psalm 52:8,9
The family was hit with tragic news—so unbelievable and unexpected, and particularly difficult for his wife. As the spiritual leader, this husband knew there were steps he must take in order to get his family through the crisis. He cried, “Lord, help!”
Those steps would have to be steps of faith—because there was no seeing the “whys”, “hows”, and “what ifs.” All of that was beyond understanding . . . with no idea what God was doing. But his Christian faith was strong . . . so he was willing to take the first and certain steps of faith in order to lead his family with gentleness and power, a remarkable combination.
Oswald Chambers, the great theologian from the early 1900s and author of the devotional My Utmost for His Highest, presents a strong challenge to those facing similar trials: “When we are in fear we can do nothing less than pray to God, but our Lord has a right to expect that those who name His name should have an understanding confidence in Him. God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the reliable ones . . . it is when a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely. If we have been learning to worship God and to trust Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go to the breaking point and not break in our confidence in Him.” Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest, August 12th
The husband did have a desire to lead with confidence and trust in God, but his own emotions were close to the breaking point. Watching him take these seven steps of faith revealed to us his reliance on God, and his confidence did not break:
- He knew this would be a journey of faith and it would not be clear what the outcome would be. Acknowledging his helplessness was the first step, and the husband did this humbly in prayer, citing: “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7) and “. . . faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
- Next, the husband knew he must go to the source of faith for strength to face the day and the days to come. He had no strength on his own—drained by circumstances. So the second step was to decide to spend time in God’s word: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Knowing that the path would be long and hard, he believed the scriptural truth, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
- The third step was to meditate on the Scriptures which stated what he was sure of. Emotions in his family were bordering on total confusion, so he focused on what he knew to be certain: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear . . .” (Psalm 46:1,2) “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise renews my life.” (Psalm 119:50) “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1,2) “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23) He wrote Scripture on index cards to refer to during times of weakness—which came, but less and less as time went on.
- The husband knew that step four was patient endurance, and he took that step with new-found confidence. At first just surviving the day, then the week . . . and growing in perseverance along the way: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:3,4)
- The husband also knew that endurance would be twin to encouragement. Friends and family (especially church family) would be essential if his family was to survive this ordeal intact. Instead of isolating themselves in their pain, the husband led his family in the fifth step—keeping them open to help and open to worship: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5,6)
- The sixth step was to look for hope with new eyes. With mature thinking, the husband knew that, in the flesh, we can all be blinded by despair and discouragement. Looking for how God is moving takes Holy Spirit-led vision, and the husband was ready: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
- Their road ahead remains hard . . . the journey long. Steps of faith are never easy and require total trust in God in the dark. The husband prayed Proverbs 3:5,6: “Lord, I pray that I will ‘Trust in You with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding. In all my ways I will acknowledge You, and I know You will make our paths straight.’” Step seven was to praise God for His sovereignty and His presence . . . with all thanksgiving. This was perhaps the most counter-intuitive step of all, but necessary because Scripture says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).
In spite of everything they have been through, this family stands together in faith. They are an inspiration to us all.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” — Romans 15:13
Questions to Share:
1. What crises of faith have you experienced in your life as a couple? How did you rely on your trust in God to get through them?
2. What crises of faith have you experienced during deployment? How did you rely on your trust in God to get through them?
3. Are you facing a crisis right now? What steps do you need to take to lead your family well, from the battlefield or from the home front?