Recently, I’ve been battling with a very specific issue of faith. As I grappled, I was tempted to feel alone: as if this struggle was unique to me and my situation, and I was the very first person ever to have felt the things I felt.
Don’t we all get there, sometimes? We feel so alone in the midst of our struggles that we forget one of the greatest truths we possess: we’re never alone. Hebrews 4:15 tells us so beautifully how Jesus faced the same trials we do, yet never sinned. We can turn to Him for the strength we need.
Our business has been going through a rough patch these past few months. I don’t think it’s serious or long-term, but it’s stressful to be in the middle of, and we don’t really have the resources to weather it. Whenever challenges strike, I immediately become introspective. Through a combination of prayer, self-analysis and endless speculation with those closest to me (poor things!), I try to dissect the actions and decisions I’ve made to arrive at the tenuous position in which I find myself. (It’s a little exhausting).
As I search for answers, I inevitable turn to God’s Word to shed some light on the situation. I was baffled and confused when I read in Proverbs about the necessity of “look[ing] well to [one’s] herds” and “prepar[ing] the horse against the day of battle” – all verses which underscore the necessity of making plans, being involved, taking an active role in the health of one’s finances – and verses that speak about not worrying about what you’ll eat for tomorrow, since today has worries enough.
Peter teaches us to cast all our worries on His mighty shoulders, because He cares deeply and specifically for our well-being. How could we leave everything in God’s hands AND be prepared for the winter, so to speak? In fact, the next verse in Peter gives us a clue: be sober and vigilant.
In other words: be awake, in your right mind, keeping watch.
And then it struck me (finally – I’m a little slow ;)): what better way to be free from care than to be prepared? And what better way to be prepared than to turn to the User Guide for Better Living for the guidance we need?
Proverbs teaches us the value of being ready for whatever is likely to befall. Obviously there are scenarios we cannot predict, and these we leave to God. But the passages that teach us not to worry or be anxious are not teaching us to abdicate our responsibilities, just as the passages that teach us to be prepared and diligent are not advocating self-reliance. A full surrender to God doesn’t mean we do nothing. It means we do everything we can – as best we can. We just do everything His way, in His strength. And what better Way is there, after all?
When people say, “let go and let God”, it’s misleading. It’s not saying enough. We do need to let go: of fear and anxiety and doubt. We do need to let God: we need to let Him show the way. Then we need to go the way; do what He says. It’s not a state of relaxed idleness, trusting in His provision while we do nothing at all. It’s a state of watchful faithfulness, trusting in His provision through the strength and skill He has given us by His grace.
In other words: it’s being prepared. It’s being ready for use, just like a clean dish and a tidy house. Let’s make ourselves useful, and trust Him to use us for His perfect will.