by Terra Koch
My family recently welcomed a three-year-old dog into our home. After years of strictly being a miniature dachshund family, we suddenly have a lovable, well-trained, but comparatively large heeler-shepherd mix. While I could see that he was gentle and obedient—and had been so well loved by his former family—the first few days were still a little trepidatious for me as he learned about his new home, and I learned more about him. He had quickly learned that we would care for him. We would feed him, continue training him, walk him, and play with him. Wash the mud off his feet and keep his bed clean. We would show him the rules of our home that kept us all comfortable and safe. Day by day, we repeated our routines and had new experiences together; guests coming to the house, baby chicks being brought to the farm, and the ducks waddling their way up the lane. Our new family member continued to be gentle and obedient. My anxiety was slowly being replaced with trust.
Have you ever laid awake at night, worrying over something or had your stomach twist into a knot over a misunderstanding? Everything from news about pandemics, wars and threats of wars, down to something as simple as a difficult phone call I needed to make have robbed me of my sleep and occupied too much of the space in my mind from time to time. I have felt my heart race as I questioned whether something I had done was the right thing. Then there’s the really tough news: That phone call from the bank, your employer, the doctor, your friend, your spouse, your child.
This past Sunday, one of our church’s Bible teachers, Mark Mueller, spoke about the fear of what’s next. If you missed that teaching, you can check it out here:
Passing the Test
Recently, I was talking with a dear friend, who is going through a very tough battle, about the testing of our faith. It left me wondering: What is God’s purpose in the testing of our faith? Does God, who is omniscient, who formed me, who knows me better than I know myself, need to set up an obstacle course for me—flaming rings of fire for me to leap through, lions to tame, and clowns to avoid—while I fly off the trapeze bar or am shot out of the cannon? Surely, he who created the universe doesn’t need me to put on some display, some show of my belief in him, for his own sake. Yet the Bible is full of the testimonies of those who have loved God and have suffered greatly in walking their faith, even unto death. What could other reasons be for the testing of our faith?
James, the half-brother of Jesus, encourages us with these words, “Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. No one, when tempted, should say, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:12, 13, NRSV).
I wonder, what if these trials and tribulations, these rough roads, serve to prove our faith . . . to ourselves? To refine our faith so we can walk the straight and narrow to see the light at the end of the tunnel? To grow our faith and glorify God and provide us with opportunities to show that glory to others? That it is by our obedience, our yielding to his will, despite tough circumstances, that we can search our own hearts and grow in our trust and love for him? And moreover, that we can testify to others, “His peace surpasses my understanding, I have been through the fire and HE DID NOT FORSAKE ME!”
Deuteronomy 8:11-19 reads, “Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes that I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. Do not say to yourself, ‘My power and the might of my own hand have gained me this wealth.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today. If you do forget the Lord your God and follow other gods to serve and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish” (NRSV).
Trusting Our Unknown Future to a Known God
We can so easily forget the goodness God has brought into our lives. His provision, his mercies, and his blessings. We weigh so heavily our sorrows and can be quick to doubt whether he hears our prayers. Yet God so desires that NO ONE should perish, that he sent his Son to become the ultimate sacrifice to cover all of our transgressions, our mistakes, our sins—and even our fears. Where do we see that word “perish” from Deuteronomy 8:19, 20 again? In perhaps the most famous of all Bible verses . . .
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16, 17, NRSV).
God is constantly working within us to turn our hearts toward him, and when we turn away, to turn our hearts back to him again. Are you familiar with the incredible story of Corrie ten Boom? If you don’t know her story, I encourage you to read her autobiography, The Hiding Place. During World War II, a family with a small clock shop in Haarlem, Netherlands, would become instrumental in helping Jews on their path to escape the Nazis. The ten Boom family had long been believers, praying over Jerusalem in their dining room as their family grew larger. Behind the bedroom wall of a young girl named Corrie ten Boom, an estimated 800 Jews were saved before this was discovered. The ten Boom family themselves were not ultimately all spared. Corrie, her sister Betsie, and her father Casper, were arrested, and only Corrie survived prison. Yet she was unfailing in telling her story through her understanding of God’s plans and provisions for the remainder of her long life. Countless lives have been blessed by her unwavering testimony.
Corrie ten Boom once said,
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
What would life look like for us if we fully accepted the love of Christ? To know that our souls are covered by his sacrifice? Can we replace our fear of the unknown, the fear of what’s next, with trust and obedience? As we struggle to overcome our fears and anxieties, can we let them go enough to know that no matter what, God is with us and that our lives can be a testimony to his glory and goodness? The foundation of our lives must be built on trusting and being obedient to him. The only way this can be accomplished is in knowing the Lord through reading his Word, praying, and stepping out in faith each and every day.
Terra Koch is a mom of four boys on a small farm. She serves on the women’s leadership team at Christ’s Church.