When crisis hits your
personal life how do you respond to God's
sovereignty? How do you transfer the intellectual
sense of God's power and presence into the
practical, emotional reality of this national and
personal crisis? Where is God when I need Him?
WHERE IS GOD WHEN I
NEED HIM MOST?
We don't have to turn far
in the Scriptures to find examples of God's presence
when His children have needed Him most.
Where do you turn
in terrorist attacks?
raided David's camp at Ziklag in 1 Samuel 30:1-6.
The terrorists overthrew their camp at "Ziklag and
burned it with fire, and they took captive the women
and all who were in it, both small and great,
without killing anyone, and carried them off and
went their way" (v. 1). David and his men arrived at
camp and "behold, it was burned with fire, and their
wives and their sons and their daughters had been
taken captive" (v. 3).
What did David and the
men do? "Then David and the people who were with him
lifted their voices and wept until there was no
strength in them to weep" (v. 4). They cried. They
acknowledged and deeply felt their emotions. The
shock, fear, anger was acknowledged and felt. The
feelings were there and they were real. The
emotionally healthy person can acknowledge and
deeply experience whatever emotions are there at any
given moment if he so chooses.
David also "was greatly
distressed because the people spoke of stoning him,
for all the people were embittered, each one because
of his sons and his daughters. . ." (v. 6). Where do
you turn when you are in total helplessness? It is a
humbling experience to realize you do not have the
inner resources, all human help has turned against
you, and only God can be turned to for help.
We have also been
reminded these days that the war with terrorism has
only begun. It will continue for a long, long time.
There will be many occasions when we will need to
turn to the only One who can give us His strength in
time of crisis.
David realized that only
the LORD can be counted on in times of total
helplessness. "David strengthened himself in the
LORD his God. . . David inquired of the LORD . . ."
(vv. 6, 8).
George Macdonald once
said, "We look upon God as our last and feeblest
resource. We only go to Him when we have nowhere to
go. And then we learn that the storms of life have
driven us, not upon the rocks, but into the desired
We do not strengthen
ourselves in the LORD until we give up all
dependence on everything else, and we are forced to
depend upon Him alone. As long as we trust in other
things, nothing but disappointment will come upon
us. Yet, for many people the thought of waiting upon
God alone seems one of the most precarious things we
can do in our day. Is there not a natural tendency
to reach out for something in addition to depending
upon God? Is it not until everything else fails that
man puts his trust in God alone?
David came to the
realization that only God was left. His friends were
ready to desert and stone him. He was as good as
dead. Only God was left, just God. David
strengthened himself in Yahweh his God.
Our nation is double
minded. Jesus Christ has not been all we want in
America. We have wanted a great many things besides
or in addition to Him.
Where do you turn in your
time of total helplessness? Where do you turn when
everyone turns against you? The LORD God is always
there when we most need Him. Perhaps, we have been
looking in the wrong place.
Where do you turn
Joseph was an arrogant
teenager who was thrown into a cistern by his
brothers to await a decision that ultimately led to
his being sold into slavery in Egypt by an
Ishmaelite caravan. Do you think it was easy for
Joseph to keep a positive attitude while in a
stinking prison in Egypt? It was probably no easier
than for you and me when financial disaster hits,
you lose your job, your marriage breaks up, and your
teen is hooked on drugs or something worse. Where is
God when you are kidnapped by real terrorists, or an
emotional or spiritual kidnapping?
Where was God when I
needed Him? Joseph looked into the eyes of his
brothers years later and said, "As for you, you
meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in
order to bring about this present result, to
preserve many people alive" (Genesis 50:20).
Sometimes we have to face
the worst crises in our lives alone with God. Have
you found that to be true in your life? In God's
sovereign wisdom everything comes together to His
glory even if we do not understand it today. The
word "why" can drive some of us to madness unless we
turn to God's infinite love and wisdom and realize
that this crisis does not change His attitude toward
us. He still loves us.
Where do you turn when
there is no light at the end of the tunnel? Where do
you turn when it is only you night and day, day and
night, week after week, month after month, year
after year? Where is God when you need Him most? He
is there. "God meant it for good in order to bring
about this present result."
Someone said, "God is too
kind to do anything cruel. . . Too wise to make a
mistake. . . Too deep to explain Himself. When we
know Who, we can stop asking 'Why?'"
Nothing in this world
happens outside of the will of God—literally,
nothing. There are no failures and there are no
loose ends in the ultimate plan of God. What can I
learn when I have blown it, or things go wrong? What
is God teaching me? What does He want to say to me
in this? What is He doing to make me more like the
Note carefully, I did not
say God caused this tragedy. He is not the author of
evil. There are some things we simply cannot explain
Where is God during
King Hezekiah lay at the
point of death with his face to the wall weeping
bitterly in 2 Kings 20:1-3. God sent him a messenger
saying, "Set your house in order, for you shall die
and not live."
God's answer to
Hezekiah's humility and prayer was an additional
fifteen years of life as ruler of Judah. God in His
wisdom sometimes chooses to heal His people on the
basis of prayer. However, more often in His wisdom
He chooses not to bring physical healing that way.
The apostle Paul had his "thorn in the flesh" and
God still teaches and encourages us through his
suffering. In those moments God reminds us that all
we need is a simple trust in Him. He is
all-sufficient to meet our need.
Where is God when I need
Him most? In God's sovereign wisdom He sees the
beginning and the end. We can trust Him to
accomplish His eternal purposes. This crisis does
not change His attitude toward us. He has already
demonstrated His love for us by going to the cross
and dying for us.
Where is God when I
Two sisters at the death
of their brother got angry with Jesus. "Lord, if you
had been here, my brother would not have died" (John
11:21). Lord, where were you when I needed you?
Martha tried to focus her
faith, "I know that he will rise again in the
resurrection on the last day," she said (v. 24).
I have had people say to
me while riding through a personal storm, "I felt as
if my whole world had been blown apart. My
confidence in God was gone." There are a lot of
people who feel that way today.
Jesus told Mary and
Martha that He alone is all-sufficient. "I am the
resurrection and life." He said, "I am the
resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me
will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives
and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe
this?" (vv. 25-26).
Who said this? The great
I AM. "I am the way, the truth, the life; no one
comes to the Father but through Me."
He is here when we face
death and suffering. Job said, "Though He slay me, I
will hope in Him."
Where was God when
Jesus needed Him?
Sometimes we face
incomprehensible and desperately painful situations
in which God alone can comfort our hearts. Jesus was
"very distressed and troubled" in the Garden of
Gethsemane. He said to His disciples, "My soul is
deeply grieved to the point of death" (Mark
God used that tragedy to
remedy our sin problem and give us eternal life. The
only time when God was not present when He was
needed most was when the eternal fellowship between
God the Father and God the Son was broken as a
result of being made sin on our behalf. "The wages
of sin is death," but He was sinless. He never
experienced sin. "He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ]
who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we
might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2
You see, the question to
ask is not where is God when I need Him, but where
am I placing my faith when I need Him most. People
evade the crucial question by asking, "If there is a
God, then why did He do such and such?" "If there is
a God then why . . . ?" "Why did He permit this to
If I admit there is an
all-sufficient God, then I have to ask what is my
responsibility to Him? I fear we would rather ask
question and play intellectual blame games rather
than focus our faith upon Him rather than ourselves.
Most of our pseudo-intellectual questions are blame
games. The truth is God is all-sufficient when I
need Him most.
GOD IS ALL-SUFFICIENT
WHEN I NEED HIM MOST
The eternal God is
Moses was coming to the
end of his life and the great leader was addressing
the children of Israel before they would go into the
promised land of Canaan. Moses said,
"There is none like the
God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to
And through the skies in
The eternal God is a
And underneath are the
And He drove out the
enemy from before you,
And said, 'Destroy!'"
The God of the beginning
and the end is your dwelling place. "The eternal God
is a dwelling place, and underneath are the
everlasting arms." The imagery is like standing on a
balcony in a tall building overlooking a parade. The
God who was at the beginning is our refuge. He is
our dwelling place. God is no further removed from
you and me than He was from the first man in the
procession. The eternal God, the God of the
beginning and the end, is our dwelling place. He is
alive. He is all-sufficient. He is the Alpha and
Omega, the beginning and the end, the One who was
dead and is now alive forever. The apostle Paul
reminds us that He who began a good work in you will
complete it (Phil. 1:6). We follow God, in company
with God. "The eternal God is your dwelling place."
Underneath are His
everlasting arms for you and me
The Hebrew word for
"underneath" means bottom. The root idea is
depressing, humbling, and beaten down. Underneath is
the uttermost limit of that which is beaten down.
How far down can your imagination take you, or your
experience carry you today? How far down does the
terrorism of yesterday take you? How profound are
the sufferings of your illness? How weak are you in
your personal kidnapping and suffering? How deep
into life have you been? How profound has been your
experience of sorrow? How far into sin have you sunk
in some hour of weakness? How near have you come
unto death in your suffering?
G. Campbell Morgan said,
"When you have reminded yourselves of that lowest
level—and some soul may say, I was never deeper down
than now—then listen, 'Underneath,' lower than that,
'are the everlasting arms.'"
No matter how far down
you go you cannot get below His everlasting arms!
No matter how deep you go
in your experience of sorrow and hurt and anger you
will find His "everlasting arms." The figure "arms"
speaks of strength and power. If everlasting takes
us to the ultimate vanishing point, the ultimate
reach of the imagination and thought, then we are
reminded the infinite is underneath our load of
grief, fear, hurt, pain, terror, and sorrow. The
eternal God is underneath it all. He is our
sustaining power and strength in time of need. His
arms reach into that dark mystery that baffles our
soul and assaults us with fear today.
"Underneath are the everlasting arms." G. Campbell
Morgan crafted these words:
". . . Underneath life,
this mystery of my own life that baffles me, and
fills me with fear, and drives me hopelessly along
the pathway—underneath it all are the everlasting
arms. There is nothing in my life unknown to God.
There is nothing in my life outside the compass of
that embrace of eternal strength and tenderness.
'Underneath are the everlasting arms.'
suffering. He encircles our sorrows with His own;
but in His sorrows there is nothing of despair,
there is nothing of weakness. They are greater than
mine by virtue of the strength of God, but there is
nothing in them of despair, and nothing of weakness.
In the depth of suffering I presently find the arms
of God underneath.
"Weakness? . . . we fall,
and fall, all supports giving away; we sink, sink,
sink, until, when no finger can be lifted and no
glance of the eye tell the agony of our weakness, we
suddenly find we are cradled in the arms of God.
'Underneath are the everlasting arms.'
"By these signs and
tokens, by these experiences of the soul, we know
how it shall be in death. 'Underneath are the
everlasting arms.' Death will be the gate of life.
Through it we shall find God.
"Here, then, is the
answer to our fears. . . We find our rest in God. He
is the beginning. He is always the beginning. He
began this day, this very day. This is the day that
the Lord has made. He will begin every tomorrow that
shall come . . . He is the God of the everlasting
arms. It is impossible to sink beneath them, for
they are always underneath. 'The God of the morning
is your dwelling place, and underneath are the
everlasting arms'" (The Westminster Pulpit,
vol. x, pp. 333-34).
Is He your dwelling
place? Is He your shelter it the storm? Do His
strong arms sustain you?
There is nothing of
greater agony than a sense of helplessness. The
unknown future and the unfathomable present produce
an assault on the soul and a profound sense of fear.
However, in my helplessness the Lord God is always
there when I need Him most.
God alone is enough
for all our needs in this life and eternity.
Jesus Christ has not been
all we want in America. We have wanted a great many
other things besides Him. We have craved something
besides or in addition to Him. Our soul has been
attacked at our two most vulnerable points of false
security—financial and military security. What if
God should choose to remove both? Where would you
stand as an individual? Is Jesus Christ all that you
want? Are there other things you desire besides Him?
Are we quick to rationalize and make excuses for our
For many people it is not
the Lord who satisfies us, but our own feelings
about the Lord. When our feelings fail we think it
is the Lord who has failed, and we are plunged into
Many think that Christ
cannot be anything to us unless we find in ourselves
something to assure us of His love and care. They
only think of God in a time of emergency, i.e., when
they need Him, and then of course they think of Him
as being insufficient because He does not answer the
way they think He should answer. He is conceived of
in finite images like themselves. Who am I in my
sinfulness and depravity to sit in judgment on a
holy and righteous God? How arrogant can our
Jesus Christ is enough
for everything we face. He is all-sufficient. All
our salvation is from beginning to end upon the Lord
alone. We have found that He is able and willing to
do for us "exceeding abundantly above all we can ask
I have found again this
week that my faith in the Lord God was the same as
the day before the events that took place Tuesday,
September 11, 2001, as it has been since then. If
there is no lack in Him, then He of Himself and in
Himself is enough. Everything depends upon whether
the Lord, in and of Himself, is enough for our
salvation, or whatever else we face in life. He is
all-sufficient, or you must add other things on your
part to make Him sufficient. How dreadful to think
that there is something that we must add to make Him
sufficient. What you are doing is worshipping a god
made in your own image rather than the Lord Jesus
Christ who rose from the dead.
Perhaps you are thinking
that I don't realize how perplexing and serious the
situation is in our nation. I am saying you don't
need something more than just the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am saying that in all of these situations Christ
is utterly and absolutely all-sufficient. "My God
shall supply all your needs according to His riches
in glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19).
There is nothing else
that your soul needs than the Lord Jesus Christ. He
issued an invitation to all to come to Him who are
in need. "Come to Me, all who are weary and
heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke
upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and
humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR
SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light"
to appropriate God's all-sufficiency
It is our responsibility
as believers to permit the Holy Spirit to activate
the truth of His Word in our lives when we need it.
But we must accept responsibility to study His Word
daily, and memorize Scriptures so they can settle
down in our subconscious mind. How we live our lives
each day determines how we face a crisis. The Holy
Spirit can only appropriate the truth of His Word as
we have taken time to study it.
Perhaps you say, "This
all sounds good, but if only I could be sure that it
applies to me. I am good-for-nothing and full of
sin. I do not feel as if I can make any such claims
on God's grace."
Then you do not
understand God's grace. Hannah Smith writes: "All
the more, if you are good-for-nothing and full of
sin, you have a claim on the all-sufficiency of God.
Your very good-for-nothingness and sinfulness are
your loudest claims. As someone has said, it is only
the sinner that wants salvation who stands in the
Savior's path. And the Bible declares that Christ
Jesus came into the world to save sinners; not to
save the righteous, not to save the fervent, not to
save the earnest workers, but simply and only to
save sinners. Why then should we spend our time and
energies in trying to create a claim, which after
all is no claim, but only a His deliverance."
"As long as our attention
is turned upon ourselves and our own experiences,
just so long is it turned away from the Lord. This
is plain common sense. . . . we can only see the
thing we look at, and while we are looking at
ourselves, we simply cannot "behold God." It is not
that He hides Himself; He is always there in full
view of all who look unto Him; but if we are looking
in another direction, we cannot expect to see Him.
"Heretofore, it may be,
our eyes have been so exclusively fixed upon
ourselves that all our interior questioning has been
simply and only as regarded our own condition. Is my
love for God warm enough? Am I enough in earnest?
Are my feelings toward Him what they ought to be?
Have I enough zeal? Do I feel my need as I ought?
And we have been miserable because we have never
been able to answer these questions satisfactorily.
. . .
"If we want to see God,
our interior questioning must be, not about
ourselves, but about Him. How does God feel toward
me? Is His love for me warm enough? Is He
sufficiently in earnest? . . . .
". . . . All things are
yours because you belong to Christ, not because you
are so good and so worthy, but simply and only
because you belong to Christ. All things we need are
part of our inheritance in Him, and they only await
our claiming" (Hannah Whitall Smith, The God of
All Comfort, pp. 251-252).
Nothing else is needed to
quiet our fears, but the fact that God is. His
existence is all you and I need for this hour. We
don't need any evidence, or proof. All we need is
Him. God has provided for every possible
contingency. Absolutely nothing can possibly
separate you from His love. Neither death nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor
things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor
depth, nor any creature or thing can separate me
from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my
"We do not need to beg
Him to bless us," says Hannah Smith, "He simply
cannot help it." That is the nature of a loving
Father. "Therefore God is enough! God is enough for
time, God is enough for eternity. God is enough!" Is
God our Father negligent, indifferent, forgetful, or
ignorant? Of course not. He knows about everything.
He cares about our every need. He can manage
everything, and He loves us. He has demonstrated
that once and for all at Calvary. Do you dare ask
for more evidence of God's great love? "For while we
were still helpless, at the right time Christ died
for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6). "God demonstrates His
own love toward us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us" (v. 8). What more could