I WONDER WHAT THEY WERE THINKING

I WONDER WHAT THEY WERE THINKING

I wonder what Daniel was thinking when he received news that the king, whom he loved and served so well and faithfully, had decreed that he be thrown into the den of lions for worshiping God, rather than the king.

I wonder what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were thinking when they were sentenced to burn for again, worshipping God, rather than the king.

I wonder what Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, were thinking when they heard that Jesus delayed His trip to go see them when Lazarus was ill. And I wonder what they were thinking when Lazarus finally died.

I wonder what the lady with the issue of blood was thinking when it slowly dawned on her that all was not well with her body; and what she was thinking when doctor after doctor, treatment after treatment, yielded no result.

Disappointment is a common feature of life; even Christian life. Things don’t go as we planned. Things don’t turn out as we expect. Things don’t materialize as we wish. And God doesn’t seem to keep His promises.

Now, I say ‘seem’, because really, the only ones to whom God doesn’t seem to keep His promises are the ones in trouble. Think about it. Who but you are stressed about that particular area in your life when trouble hits? Who but you gets consumed by the problem? Who but you stops seeing all the good things that actually really do still exist in your life?

Problems are like blinders on a horse. It focuses us on one path, one aspect, one perspective of our lives and makes us think that that is the one and only, most important thing in our lives.

Now, I know what you are thinking. This is usually the point where I tell you to stop and look around you at all the good that is still there in your life. And this is where I usually tell you to take comfort and strength that since God has given you that much, your problem is easily solved; so rest and leave it to Him.

But no. That’s not what I want to do today. Let’s instead indulge our anxieties and focus on our problems and see what WE should do about it.

When problems come, so too do bad thoughts. That’s why I began today’s message by asking, ‘I wonder what they were thinking’. And often it is not the problem that causes the stress-related health problems; it is the thought that comes with it.

Think about it. If the bank is going to foreclose on your property, what is the worst that they can do to you? That’s right. Evict you. But if you didn’t care much for the house anyway, or if you already had other living arrangements worked out; eviction really wouldn’t cause you much stress, would it?

Or if your boss keeps giving you a hard time at work, screaming at you every opportunity he gets and piles work on you on an hourly basis, what is the worst that he can do to you? If you didn’t care much for the job anyway, if you already had plans to leave the company, your boss really wouldn’t cause you that much stress, would he?

Fact is, stress and anxiety comes when we see no way out. Just like Daniel who was destined for the lion’s den, or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego who were destined for the furnace, or Mary and Martha who were destined to watch their brother die, or the lady with the issue of blood who was destined to suffer with it for many years; when we see no way out, that is when bad thoughts come and we get, let’s be honest here, very disappointed with God.

But you know, the fact is, we don’t really know what they were thinking. But we know what they chose to do and we know that each and every one of them got delivered in the end. So if we want to be delivered from our problems as well, shouldn’t we take a page out of their play book? So let’s see what they did.

“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.” Daniel 6:10

Daniel went home and prayed, just as he always did. Then what happened?

“…when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”

Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.”” Daniel 6:20-21

God delivered.

What about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego? What happened to them after they were thrown into the furnace?

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”
They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”” Daniel 3:24-25

God delivered.

What about Mary and Martha? Now, this time, we were given a bit of insight into what they were thinking.

“Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”” John 11:32

She blamed Jesus, didn’t she? And even though Martha said,

“But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” John 11:22

We know that in their hearts they must have been more than a little disappointed with Jesus for not showing up because Martha also said,

“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:21

But we also know that in the end, God delivered.

And what about the lady with the issue of blood? What did she do?

“When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”” Mark 5:27-28

And what happened?

“Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.” Mark 5:29

Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

Troubles are difficult. But they are the most difficult when you have been waiting but deliverance doesn’t come. Because troubles are organic, aren’t they? Like a weed, they grow and multiply, consuming all that is before you. And when God seems to keep silent in those instances, we do get more than a little disappointed with God.

But you know, even if you are like Mary and Martha, who blamed Jesus for Lazarus’ death, hey, that doesn’t disqualify you from His love. That doesn’t mean that He stops loving you, and that surely doesn’t mean that He will not work your miracle for you when the time is right.

You know, these are but instances of individuals facing disappointment. Can you remember a time when God’s people were facing a collective and corporate disappointment? Yes, when Israel was in Egypt. But at that time, what did God say?

“When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.” Deuteronomy 7:1-2

God not only promised deliverance, He also promised victory and prosperity. And do you know why?

“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 7:6

Did you realize that you are also God’s chosen? Did you realize that you too are His holy people? Jew or not, as long as you have put your faith in Jesus, the fact is, you are, even though you may not feel like it all the time. This is because,

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13

Will God allow His children to stay in their bad states for long? Can He bear it? Beloved, child of God, understand this. Deliverance is not just what God does, it is who God is. What He says will happen, will happen.

“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” Deuteronomy 7:9

When troubles hit, bad thoughts will come. But pay them no attention. Instead, turn your eyes and set your hope afresh on Christ. Be like Daniel and the rest that we studied today, and know that the Lord your God is faithful and He will keep His covenant with you.

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