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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Cornfield across from our house
Large cornfield across from our house

"When It Seems Like God Has Failed You"

Message summary: Even though the short-term outcome of many situations we face in life may not be what we would have desired we can be confident that the ultimate outcome will be an expression of God's faithfulness in all His ways!

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“Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed" (Joshua 23:14).

We had some unusual activity in our neighborhood last evening. Just before sunset we got a call that our neighbor's two year old son was missing. He had last been seen with his four year old brother near a huge cornfield that bordered their farm. Very quickly emergency vehicles descended upon our neighborhood, a team of 30 ground searchers was formed, as well as an air search with drones. Upon hearing the news we rushed to the Amish farm, flashlights in tow, to join the volunteer search team but the official emergency workers put a hold on gathering anymore volunteers at that point. We felt a bit frustrated, but knew we could continue to pray and hope for little Aaron to be found.

Just as complete darkness was about to descend and greatly impair the desperate search, the child was found. What a wonderful outcome which resulted in great rejoicing in that home and in our neighborhood! It reminded us of the story of the lost sheep and the shepherd’s enthusiastic response: "Rejoice with me; for I have found my lost sheep". It’s a picture of God’s joy when a lost sinner is found or ours when a lost child is recovered safely.

This morning we visited Eli and Emma, little Aaron's parents, and rejoiced with them in the rescue of their little one. Turns out he was found sleeping on the ground beside the cornfield at a great distance from where he was last seen. They expect that he cried himself to sleep, out of fear and weariness. After they brought him home they couldn't get enough food in his little tummy. This morning they are experiencing inexpressible joy in the return of their precious child. Aaron was playing in the barn with his older brother young Eli during our visit.

We have been enjoying a song titled "Firm Foundation" that has a recurring line, "He Won't"

Christ is my firm foundation
The Rock on which I stand
When everything around me is shaking
I've never been more glad
That I put my faith in Jesus
'Cause He's never let me down
He's faithful through generations
So why would He fail now?
He won't, He won't

What a wonderful outcome to our neighbor's experience but not all outcomes in life result in immediate rejoicing. As we did yesterday, Brooksyne will begin our message with a recent experience:

I was with a newer friend who is also a young widow. I met her at church in the early spring. We were in a classroom setting together and the song, "Firm Foundation" was playing on the power point screen. Some of the students were singing along with the words but when the line came up, "Cause He's never let me down" my friend said aloud to me, "I can't sing those words" because I feel like God has let me down. I feel like He has failed me".

Initially her words kind of shocked my "sanctified" ears, but I considered her honest expression of disappointment and realized most all of us have had those thoughts, if not spoken aloud, we've tucked them away in our hearts. We had talked on several occasions about her husband's early death due to cancer that reappeared shortly after their brief marriage of four years, both having entered into marriage later in life. He's been with the Lord for over a year now and the immense loss continues to be a serious struggle for her emotionally so I uphold her regularly in prayer and thought.

Indeed it's not spiritual sounding but candidly how many reading this have had outcomes in life when you felt God let you down? When it seemed like God had failed you. Some of you can look back to that chapter, others are in that chapter of their lives right now.

Through years of pastoral and chaplaincy ministry we have walked with many going through very trying times of great loss and pain. Today we have several on our hearts currently dealing with what seems like unanswered prayer. Brooksyne often brings up the names of the "prodigals" on her prayer list as we know this is a grievous concern for a number of parents who've shared with us their burden of children who once walked with Christ who no longer follow His ways. Parents of Prodigals cling to Scriptures like Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." They hold onto their faith that their children will return to the foundational truths they learned about God as a young child.

What do we do when our understanding of the teachings of the Bible don't seem to line up with our own experience?

Now these thoughts are certainly not exhaustive but perhaps you will find them helpful and can come up with more in your own study and musings:

1) Consider the big picture. Seek to understand spiritual realities and the promises for healing, deliverance, protection and victory are ultimately for the part of us that will live eternally. Luther wrote, "The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His Kingdom is forever".

2) Consider the promises. Are you making them say something they don't specifically say in light of the context or next point?

3) Consider the reality of promises that we will have trials, trouble and persecution although we probably don't like to consider them promises!

4) Consider those in the Bible who may have felt at the time that God had failed them or let them down. We read their stories centuries later and recognize the ultimate victory:
  • The godly residents of Judah before the Babylonian captivity. They had surely prayed for national restoration but the time for God's judgment had come. Many suffered greatly and died as described by Jeremiah. Others became the line of the faithful such as Daniel. (We think this is interesting in light of conditions in our own country.)
  • New Testament characters like John the Baptist, Stephen, and James all who were killed. How did their loved ones who were left behind deal with the loss? Did they have any sense at the time of grief that God had failed them?
5) Consider the interesting transition in Hebrews 11 from those who had favorable outcomes from our earthly perspective to those who didn't (verses 32-38). The passage ends, "These were all commended for their faith" (v.39)

6) Consider our brothers and sisters all around the world who endure great persecution and yet have growing faith. Yesterday we read a dramatic story about persecution in China and the visible demonstration of God's faithfulness in the midst of seemingly overwhelming adversity.

Even though the short-term outcome of many situations we face in life may not be what we would have desired we can be confident that the ultimate outcome will be an expression of God's faithfulness in all His ways! We serve the same God as Joshua who wrote when his time had come, “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed" (Joshua 23:14).

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, our life is filled with triumph and celebration that is exhilarating, but we also deal with trials and tragedies that are disheartening and alarming. We rejoice in the celebrations and endure the trials, though both are an essential part of our lives. Your love for us is seen in a million ways though in difficult circumstances the enemy seeks to block it from our view. Your love and care, Your mercy and grace are present not only in times of celebration but in times we walk through the valley of the shadow of despair or even death. We want to lean into Your ever-loving and ever-lasting arms of love, support, and comfort, knowing You are there in times of plenty and in times of need. We look to You in praise and thanksgiving for You promise never to leave us nor forsake us. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Firm Foundation" (with lyrics) Video  Cody Carnes

"Firm Foundation" (live version) Video  Cody Carnes

"A Thousand Hallelujahs"  Video  Brooke Ligertwood

"Never Leave"  Video  Red Rocks Worship

"Same God"  Video  The concluding song from our service at Calvary Church this last Sunday. Includes our pastor's closing prayer.

For further study:

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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