What if God Doesn't Provide?
- Dr. Roger Barrier Preach It, Teach It
- 2018 3 Apr
Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things are NOT well with us. Due to the challenges we have undergone last year in our church, my family has been severely affected. Right now, we have no more support from the church, and we are in a serious need.
We don't know where our next meal will come from, let alone how we will pay the bills. And for this reason, I need your prayers. We are in need. And we are trusting God to make a way for us.
Dear Pastor E,
I grieve over your difficult circumstances. My wife and I certainly can pray for your needs. We both know that prayer helps many things, and I will be praying with you that God will sustain you, give you a good job, and allow you to provide for your family.
Recently, I wrote an email to another person who is going through difficult times. It deals with how Jesus can pour in the power to give us strength even in the most difficult of circumstances.
I hope you find it helpful.
Here it is:
Dear my friend,
I believe that the key to finding strength and hope is found in the book of Philippians 4:10-14 where Paul wrote,
“I have learned the secret of being content in every situation. So, you are going through difficult times. Remember that God allows those times for the purpose of becoming like Jesus—with strength, patience, gentleness, and humility. I can do all things through Christ, who pours in the power” (my paraphrase).
As followers of Christ, we are made to survive even seemingly impossible circumstances… when we trust Him to give us the fierce determination and generous grace we need. But remember, with that ability to walk through suffering and scary times comes two even more precious, remarkable gifts from God: patience and contentment.
Dr. Harry Ironside was becoming deaf in in his old age. One of his students asked Ironside to pray for him to have more patience. Ironside bowed his head and prayed, “Lord, please give this young man some problems.”
Knowing that Ironside was deaf, the young student raised his voice and said, “No! No!” I did not say problems, I want patience.”
So once again they bowed their heads, and Ironside quietly said, “Don’t you know that troubles and problems produce patience?”
Alongside patience, difficulties offer the opportunity to learn contentment. We can come to understand how to respond when things are bad; and how to respond when things are good… if we choose to.
Another of my favorite theologians and pastors, A.W. Tozer, shared a truth I repeat nearly every day: “Suffering brings bitterness or compassion. You choose.”
God told Paul that when times were tough, Jesus will pour in the power and give us the strength to be victorious in every situation. This does not mean that all of our problems go away. It means that Jesus Christ gives us the power to handle them well when they do come.
Let me give you some encouragement. I’m going to quote a rather long passage in which Paul describes his sufferings for Christ (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
As you read, remember this: if God could make Paul victorious through Christ in his trials, then he can certainly give us power to get through ours.
“Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”
Through these things, Paul learned to be content. In Tozer’s words, “He chose compassion over bitterness.”
That doesn’t mean Paul’s life immediately became easier… or even a little better. In fact, to keep Paul from becoming proud, God allowed Satan to thrust into Paul’s side a thorn, a twisting stake, to torment him. Three times he prayed for God to remove it; and each time God said, “No.”
However, God told Paul exactly how to be victorious in the midst of it. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 7-10 God said to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
And Paul continued to lead thousands to Christ with the honor of writing God’s very words. You see, God gives us just the amount of grace we need to power through even the worst difficulty. Every time.
So what do we do when times get tough?
First, we study our Bibles to see how God acted in securing the lives of His people in trying situations. If God can do it for them, He can do it for us. Be encouraged, Jesus Christ is right there.
Second, we pray. In prayer, we develop an intimacy with God that helps us through those difficult times. James says, “We have not because we ask not.”
Third, we go to church to find strength and fellowship from the people around us.
I hope that this gives you some encouragement, strength, and peace.
Remember: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 6-7 NLT)
Let me know how things are coming along.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
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