. . . choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).
The predetermined choice to trust God is a common characteristic of Christian heroes. Their examples are recorded in the Bible, in history and continue to flesh out before us the one thing that pleases God the most: faith. Solid, unshakeable faith founded on an intimate relationship with God is seen in those who make the decision to take Him at His word regardless of circumstances.
Abraham’s trust in God led him to be obedient to God’s unexplainable request to sacrifice his son Isaac. When God provided the ram for the sacrifice, Abraham’s relief must have been indescribable; however, he was sure that if God expected him to carry out the sacrifice of his son, God would raise him from the dead. Abraham was certain that the promise God made to him about his legacy through Isaac was true. Only a man who had made the decision in the past to trust and follow God, no matter what, could have passed this test.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego refused to worship the image Nebuchadnezzar set up even when the king’s wrath sent them into a fiery furnace. They knew God was capable of delivering them. Their testimony to the king was even if God chose not to rescue them from the fire, they would trust Him. It is questionable that these men foresaw that God would walk with them in the fire, but that is what happened and what continues to happen symbolically for many believers today.
Joshua was sent as part of a team to scout out the land God promised to Israel. The presence of giants in the land frightened all but two of the team. Joshua and Caleb were certain God would secure the land for them. The influence of the rest of the team, however, infected the people of Israel with doubt and fear. Instead of entering the land of milk and honey, they spent forty years in the wilderness. Only Joshua and Caleb were still alive when God brought his people into the promised land, having maintained their youthful energy and determination to follow God.
Joshua did not argue with God when He revealed His unusual battle plan for conquering Jericho. Instead, Joshua did as directed and the walls of Jericho fell down as God had promised. Joshua was aware some of his kinsmen might abandon God even after His miraculous intervention in their lives, but Joshua went on record with a declaration in the future tense: As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Job never saw what was coming when his trials began, but his predetermined choice to trust God was the reason he was able to declare, Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him (Job 13:15). Even when his darkest days made him question God, his decision to trust God prevented him from sinning against God with his words.
Testimonies of those who have made the predetermined choice to trust God did not cease with Biblical accounts. Although history tells of many who did the same, those I have known who have lived that decision before me have made the most lasting impression.
When my husband was in seminary, the pastor of our church received the horrible news that one of our church members, a recent seminary graduate, lost his life in a fire along with his infant child. When the fire began at his home, this man brought his family out of the burning building only to discover that the baby was still in the house. As he rushed back in to save his baby, his wife and older children waited outside for him. He never returned. As our pastor prepared to visit the widow, he confessed to us he had no idea what he could say to help her through such a horrendous event. As the widow opened the door, she looked her pastor in the eyes and said, “Pastor, the joy of the Lord is my strength.”
Several years ago, I lost one of my best friends to brain cancer. When the diagnosis was given to her, she said to her husband, “God has just told me I will not survive this.” During the remaining nine months of her life, her favorite saying, “God is faithful,” continued to be on her lips wherever she went. She suffered much and was even criticized for not having enough faith to believe God would heal her, but she never wavered in her steadfast trust of a faithful Father who loved her and her family.
A few years after that, my husband also got cancer. With his diagnosis, he made the determination that he would glorify God no matter what happened. In his case, God healed him, but he did have to go through surgery, months of chemotherapy and additional hospitalizations because of complications with the chemotherapy. Through that year, he continued to travel with our ministry and made an impact upon those who were in the congregations and conferences. He is healthy today and continues to preach and teach the love of a God he trusts.
During trial and tragedy is not the time to wrestle with the issue of whether God can be trusted. That choice must be made ahead of time. If a trusting faith is not already in place when hard times come, there is no well to draw from. The well of resource must have already been filled with Living Water to sustain one through a time of drought.
It is impossible to please God without faith. His word is full of promises of His presence for those who trust Him. He promises to be a refuge, a hiding place, a rock, a fortress, a shield, a present help in time of trouble, a deliverer, a defender, a stronghold. Those who trust Him live under the shadow of His wings, are blessed, feed on His faithfulness, are given a new song to sing, are not afraid, are not put to shame, are known by God and are kept in perfect peace.
© Stephanie B. Blake