When the Going Gets Tough

by Lester Young

Patiently and humbly walking the course the Lord has laid out for us isn’t always the easiest thing in the world to do. (It is, oddly enough, the simplest thing in the world to do: it’s encapsulated in John 2:5… but I digress.) It can be confusing, mentally taxing and, as a result, downright physically strenuous. And when you find it as such… well, I’m gonna just go ahead and say this at the risk of incurring your wrath, because it needs to be said: When you find walking the path confusing, mentally taxing and physically strenuous, it’s because you’re doing it wrong.

Now, put down the knife because that wasn’t meant as a personal attack against you – I’ve done it wrong too, trust me! What I’m telling you is simply a Biblical truth. We’re well aware that God told His people all throughout the Bible to “fear not”. But He also told them something else, and it was often in conjunction with not fearing: He commanded them to “not be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8; Joshua 1:9, 8:1; Isaiah 41:10; etc.). The Hebrew definition of dismay is ‘to break down by violence or by confusion and fear’. We can all agree that being in a state of confusion is itself mentally taxing, and that leads directly to physical stress on the body.

The Lord Jesus put it this way: “Don’t let your heart be troubled [agitated, roiled], nor let it be afraid” (John 14:1, 27). And 1 Peter 5:7 commands us to “cast all your care [worries, anxieties] upon God, for He cares for you.” Modern medical science has discovered what God knew and warned us about from the beginning: the human body isn’t built to endure stress; it was never purposed to do so. Mental and physical stress arose as results of the curse (Genesis 3:17).

Okay, so as born-again children of God, we’re told to both “not fear” and “not be confused”. But can we actually do that? Is it realistically possible to never, ever be afraid or to always know exactly what to do in every situation? Well, God wouldn’t have issued those commands if He didn’t mean for us to do them. And therein lies the curve: we can do them, but not in our own natural ability or strength. (Of course, we have to wake up to the truth that we were never meant to ever try to do them on our own in the first place – because without the Lord we can do absolutely nothing anyway. Not walking, smiling, breathing, lifting up a hand, wiggling a finger or anything else – ‘nothing’ means nothing! [John 15:5; Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16-17] And, as Luke 12:26 points out, if we can’t do even the simplest things without Him, well…)

Practically speaking, then, how do we do things in God’s strength and not our own? How do we “not fear”? Well, to set the stage, let me say first that it has absolutely nothing to do with your natural ‘feelings’. For instance, you might be confronted by a real-live fear-inducing circumstance and your knees could be knocking together as an expected result, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’re ‘in’ fear. You’re actually “fearing” only if your responding words, decisions and actions are being driven by the fear. However, if your words, decisions and actions are based on the Lord’s promises of guidance, protection and deliverance, then you’re actually “in faith” – even though recording equipment can pick up the rhythmic sound of your knees a block away.

The same holds true for confusion. Your natural mind may not have the first clue about what to do in a particular situation. In such a case you can spend an inordinate amount of time wringing your hands and repeating, “What am I going to do? I don’t know what to do – I don’t see any way out… what am I gonna do?” Or, you can take God at His Word and start confessing His promise that you have the mind and Spirit of Christ – Who comes complete with all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge – and that as a matter of consequence you, too, “know all things”. Then get serious and spend some time praying in the Spirit until the answer comes to your natural mind (1 Corinthians 2:7-13, 16; Colossians 2:3; 1 John 2:20, 27). To put it bluntly, you could waste your time studying the ‘darkness’ (your not knowing what to do) or put your focus on the light of God’s Word until His wisdom dawns on you – and He’s promised you it would (2 Peter 1:19).

Now it’s a little easier to understand why the apostle Paul could be so joyful and pleased and even “glory” because of his physical weaknesses. When he’d done all he humanly could, but his natural abilities and understanding were simply not enough to produce positive results, he knew that was the time the Anointing would arrive on the scene with everything needed to get the job done (Ephesians 6:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). But he also knew that Power could only be appropriated by faith – by believing and saying it (Joel 3:10; 2 Corinthians 4:13) – just like everything else we receive from Heaven.

Remember this: we operate 180 degrees out-of-phase from the rest of the world – or, to be more accurate, the world is 180 degrees out-of-phase with the spiritual realm. The world operates by the “seeing-is-believing” principle. As a result, it will always be significantly behind. God’s Kingdom runs on the “believing-is-seeing” current and, as a result, will always be ahead. When we decide to use God’s Power instead of trying to deal with things by our own knowledge and ability, we walk in Jesus’ steps and move back into the original relationship the Father had with Adam (John 5:19, 30, 8:28; 1 Corinthians 15:45). Will we still have difficulties on this earth? Of course we will (Matthew 7:14; Mark 10:30; John 16:33). But by constantly keeping the promises of deliverance and victory Jesus has already paid for securely in our hearts and minds and on our lips, we’ll begin to find the going to be a lot less physically strenuous – even when the road’s a tough one to hoe (Matthew 11:28-30; John 16:33).

 

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