Promises: Be Still and Get Moving
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows…” That’s what is written in John 16:33 (NLT). If that sounds less than encouraging to you, don’t bolt just yet! The reason God gives us that warning is because if he hadn’t, we would lose faith and lose heart whenever a trial came our way. If we know they’re coming, we can stand firm in faith as we face the trial and emerge stronger than we were before.
It is written in 1 Peter 4:12 (TLB): “Dear friends, don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you.” As believers, we all will face trials and tribulations. As unpleasant a thought as that is, it is very important that we understand that we will have to deal with trials during our lives. God is always with us – and he enables us to get through whatever it is we have to face in the moment. On our own, we all too often react to our circumstances in unhelpful ways – but with our Father’s help, we can move forward.
Let’s look at the modes we can go into when we find ourselves in a trial:
- Frantic: Moving on the inside and on the outside. When we are frantic, we are chaotic in the trial; we are reacting on the outside without consulting God and fretting uselessly on the inside.
- Frozen: Moving on the inside but stuck on the outside. When we are frozen, we are paralyzed in the trial, unable to do anything actionable yet still fretting and fearing on the inside.
- Forgetful: Not moving on the inside or the outside. When we are forgetful, we are ignoring the trial. Pushing the issue into a corner, crossing our fingers and hoping the issue will go away – this distances us from reality.
- Faith-Filled: Resting on the inside and moving on the outside. When we are faith-filled, we are advancing through the trial, as opposed to being hyperactive (or unable to act) or in denial.
Which one do you want to be? It can be difficult to resist being frantic (chaotic), frozen (paralized), and forgetful (ignoring the issue), but we need to be faith-filled and advance when we are dealing with a difficult circumstance.
Exodus 14:13-18 (CEB) says: “But Moses said to the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Stand your ground, and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never ever see again. The Lord will fight for you. You just keep still.’ Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to get moving. As for you, lift your shepherd’s rod, stretch out your hand over the sea, and split it in two so that the Israelites can go into the sea on dry ground. But me, I’ll make the Egyptians stubborn so that they will go in after them, and I’ll gain honor at the expense of Pharaoh, all his army, his chariots, and his cavalry. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I gain honor at the expense of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his cavalry.’”
God says to “get moving” in this passage – Yes, He fights for us, but we should not lie dormant, simply waiting for the tides to change. We need to quiet our hearts, and obey God’s voice and move towards what He has for us.
Here are three things that we need to remember when we are facing a trial:
- In a trial there’s both a promise and an instruction. Exodus 14:1-4 (CEB) says: “Then the Lord said to Moses: Tell the Israelites to turn back and set up camp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea in front of Baal-zephon. You should set up camp in front of it by the sea. Pharaoh will think to himself, The Israelites are lost and confused in the land. The desert has trapped them.I’ll make Pharaoh stubborn, and he’ll chase them. I’ll gain honor at the expense of Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord. And they did exactly that.” God promises to help us, but he also instructs us in the steps we need to take to walk in his path.
- In a trial there’s both your part and God’s part. We have a part, and we can neither sit back and hide nor can we try to do God’s part. God will do what only He can do, but He has a part for us and we must step out in faith and act on it. Exodus 14:17-18 (CEB) says: “As for you, lift your shepherd’s rod, stretch out your hand over the sea, and split it in two so that the Israelites can go into the sea on dry ground. But me, I’ll make the Egyptians stubborn so that they will go in after them, and I’ll gain honor at the expense of Pharaoh, all his army, his chariots, and his cavalry. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I gain honor at the expense of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his cavalry.”
The parting of the Red Sea is an amazing miracle, but the Israelites didn’t just stand there while God acted. They did their part and God did His. It tells us in Exodus 14:21-25 (CEB): “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord pushed the sea back by a strong east wind all night, turning the sea into dry land. The waters were split into two. The Israelites walked into the sea on dry ground. The waters formed a wall for them on their right hand and on their left. The Egyptians chased them and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and cavalry. As morning approached, the Lord looked down on the Egyptian camp from the column of lightning and cloud and threw the Egyptian camp into panic. The Lord jammed their chariot wheels so that they wouldn’t turn easily. The Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites, because the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt!” The Israelites did what God told them to do, and God showed up in a powerful way.
- In a trial, remember it’s only temporary. It is only momentary in the light of eternity, and while it is easy to get caught up in the pain of the moment, we cannot let ourselves be distracted or crushed by it. 1 Corinthians 4:16-18 (TLB) says: “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day.These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever!So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” The pain is temporary, but the joy is eternal. We can, as faith-filled believers, advance in the things God has for us with strength and focus because we know that the trials we face are only temporary in the light of eternity.
We have to be still and get moving, at peace on the inside because we know God is with us, and moving to words what God has for us on the outside because we understand that his promises are real and meaningful and we have a part to play in them. Here’s the second half of that verse that we started with. John 16:33 (NLT) finishes: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Regardless of what we have to deal with in this world, Jesus has overcome the world and He will help us overcome our difficult circumstances for His glory.