June 11, 2009
by Paul Ruzinsky
Resurrection Life Church, Newaygo
Doubt despairs, complains, and is sad. Faith rejoices, gives thanks, and is glad. During a trial, which one sounds more like you? To deal with a trial successfully, you need to walk in faith, not in doubt. And to walk in faith, you need to make yourself meditate on the Word of God. In the middle of a trial, meditating on the Word and making yourself pray doesn’t come naturally. However, meditating on God’s Word is the way to keep in faith, and not in doubt. It also helps you to keep taking your thoughts captive, to keep from reeling your cares back in once you’ve cast them onto the Lord and to cut the line.
I love the Old Testament story of Joshua. Talk about an opportunity to get into doubt! Joshua was about to take the place of Moses, the greatest leader who ever lived. Moses experienced the burning bush, faced down Pharaoh, and led the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses raised his staff and the Red Sea parted. Moses met God on Mount Sinai. Moses received the Ten Commandments. Then, Joshua was supposed to step into his shoes (sandals) and carry on, leading the Israelites into the Promised Land.
Joshua must have been under some pressure to figure out how to follow an act like Moses, but the Lord ministered to him and helped him out. First the Lord told him, “Be strong and very courageous,” (Joshua 1:7). That’s great advice for anyone facing a trial. Keep up your strength and courage, because the Lord is with you! Then the Lord instructed Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).
In other words, the Lord told Joshua to meet the challenges ahead by doing a couple of vitally important things. One thing was to make sure the Book of the Law-God’s Word-did not depart from his mouth. He needed to speak God’s Word continuously. You and I need to do the same when we’re challenged…speak the Word all the time. You don’t speak the trial, you don’t speak what you’re facing, you speak the Word of God.
The other thing was to meditate on the Word day and night, so that he and the people could be careful to observe it and do all that was written there. Again, you and I need to do the same. If you base your thoughts and actions on what the Word of God says, you’ll know how to deal successfully with whatever challenges come your way. That’s exactly what the Lord promised in Joshua 1:8: “For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
The word prosperity here doesn’t mean money; the word prosperity means, success in all things. Going through life’s challenges with prosperity and success in all things sounds good to me! The Lord gave Joshua detailed instructions on how to be prosperous while facing huge challenges. But notice, the Lord didn’t tell Joshua, “I will make your way prosperous.” The Lord said, “This is how you will make your way prosperous-you meditate in the Book of the Law day and night . . .” It’s what Joshua chose to meditate on-and what we choose to meditate on-that could mean the difference between success and failure, between faith and doubt, in a trial.
Check out at what times the Lord told Joshua to meditate on His Word: day and night. When you’re dealing with a challenging situation, what two key times does Satan use to attack us? When does he try the hardest to fill our minds with fear, doubt, and unbelief? You guessed it-the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night!
As soon as you wake up in the morning, Satan tries to put dread in your heart so that your whole day starts off wrong. He tries to put despair in your heart, right from the start, so that no matter what God tries to bring you for the day, you won’t be willing to receive it. He doesn’t want you to receive any of God’s encouragement and instruction, because he doesn’t want you to come through your trial successfully!
So in times of trial, I like to wake up in the morning and start the day worshiping the Lord. I speak out the Scriptures that I confess on a daily basis. I pray for other people and make myself think about others instead of about my trial. I keep up my daily routine of praying for others, praying for the church, praying for those who are dealing with sickness, and praying for those who are dealing with poverty. Then I start confessing God’s Word over other people. Why? Because when I petition heaven for others, I quit focusing on me. They say if you’ve got problems, one of the best ways to fight depression is to reach out and help somebody else. That’s true! So first I pray for others, then I meditate on Scriptures dealing with the promises I need for the trial I’m going through.
I’m not about to let Satan dictate the course of my day right from the start (or at any other time), and I’m not about to let a trial dictate the course of my day either. I let God’s Word and God’s promises dictate the course of my day, trial or no trial! If I’m in faith, no matter what the trial is bringing, I’m looking to the answer. That way, Satan can’t get to my emotions or my joy or any other part of me, because I’m meditating in God’s Word right from the start, and all day long.
The other time Satan attacks is when you lie down to sleep at night. Where does your mind go? It will try to picture a disaster coming, especially if you’re in a trial. Whatever your trial might be, Satan tries to make you plant a seed in your mind so that at night you’re dreaming about your trial. If you’re in financial trouble, Satan wants you to fall sleep with a picture of complete poverty in your mind. He’ll show you a snapshot of yourself dressed in filthy rags, begging on a street corner. If it’s a trial in your relationships, he wants you to picture yourself growing old all alone, without a friend in the world. If it’s a trial in your health, he wants you to picture yourself emaciated in a hospital bed with tubes running everywhere, and then in a casket. If you allow your mind to run away with negative thoughts at night, Satan will run you a slide show full of all kinds of sorry mental pictures of yourself. You’ll go to sleep despairing about where your trial is taking you, and it won’t be anywhere good!
At night, meditate in the Word of God instead. This is great habit even when you’re not going through trials. Take in the Word before you go to sleep so that your mind is set on thinking and dreaming about the things of God. This will build your faith and make you doubt-proof in a trial. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” right? (See Rom. 10:17.) So tell yourself the Word of God at night, and picture yourself coming through your trial successfully. Picture the ways God could move to make your trial work out for your good. Picture God’s promises coming to pass in your life so that you have prosperity and good success. Joshua 1:8 says that that’s the result of meditating in the Word day and night and doing what it says. Some people think, Man, I don’t know if I need to be that radical, meditating in the Word day and night, all the time! If that’s their mindset, they’re a lukewarm or casual Christian-and probably not very successful at dealing with trials. God says that lukewarm believers make Him puke. That’s not my translation, that’s the literal Greek translation. I don’t want to make God vomit when he thinks about me! I don’t want to be a casual Christian in any way!
Casual Christianity isn’t much help in a trial anyway, and lukewarm Christians are a hindrance to the Body of Christ. That’s why God says, “You’re not cold, you’re not hot-far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit” (Rev. 3:15-16, nlt). A lot of unbelievers aren’t Christians today because they’ve seen lukewarm Christians in action (or inaction). They don’t see the victory in lukewarm Christians’ lives, and they don’t see them getting a handle on their troubles. It makes unbelievers think, Why would I want to be a Christian like that? It’s not doing anything for them, and being like them isn’t going to do anything for me! Meditating in God’s Word transforms your life from the inside out and that will attract unbelievers as they see you dealing with trials, and getting victory.
As Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The only way you’ll be transformed is by the renewing of your mind. The only way you’ll know the perfect will of God is by renewing your mind. You have to make the effort to renew your mind in the Word so that you think like heaven thinks. Renewing your mind is a key to learning how to deal with trials. Also, you don’t want to go into culture shock when you get to heaven, because they do things so differently than we do here on earth. You’re better off learning to think like heaven now. It’ll do you good now and later.
Excerpt from Pastor Paul’s book titled “Deal With It, When Life Deals You a bad Hand – Play to Win!”