Saturday, 16 February 2013

Obeying God in difficult times

Every believer needs to take the decision now and resolve to remain obedient to God even in difficult times.

Oftentimes, I have asked myself whether there are times when obedience to God is impossible. I have wondered how those that find themselves in situations of war and chaos manage to obey God and keep clean. I have equally wondered how believers manage to obey God in situations where they are alone, in situations where everybody around them is comfortable in unrighteousness and yet, the saint has the imperative of obedience. Does obedience to God often hurt?

A well-known believer was recently screened by the Nigerian Senate for a ministerial position and he said during the session that the political landscape of the nation is littered with banana peels and that he’s got to thread very carefully. In situations where obeying God means swimming against the tide and walking literary on banana peels, what will the believer do?

First, we have to be aware of not only the joys of living in obedience, but also the challenges it poses to us because we live in a world that is rebellious to God and His ways. We have to internalize this fact that Obedience to God does not always make us popular. It does not always make us look humanly sensible. Obeying God often hurts us temporarily. It often interrupts our ambitions and plans, makes us look like an enigma because most family members and friends may fail to understand us and it often attracts sufferings. Sometimes, a believer has to walk alone for a while. Now, does God vindicate His people? YES, He does! Sometimes, He does it immediately in the believer’s lifetime. Other times, He does it when the believer is no more. Sometimes, He vindicates and brings explanations to a watching audience while at other times He gives His reasons for His demand upon His own to the next generation. It is also very important to note that there are sometimes understanding is kept until when we get to heaven.

During the Kidnapping Crisis in the Southern Nigeria, I heard a sad story of a pastor’s family that the kidnappers visited. They wanted to carry the pastor himself but he was not around. They then asked the first son to sleep with their mother, but he refused and was shot. When they asked the second son to sleep with their mother, he hesitated but was persuaded by their mother, the pastor’s wife. He slept with her and they still carried her away. Unfortunately, the boy committed suicide the next morning.

It is true that this is a very extreme case, and we pray that God never allows us to be pushed to the wall like this. However like i have already noted, every believer needs to take the decision now, what to do in difficult times, for it when we resolve this way that grace and help are released. We need to take the oath of loyalty and allegiance to our Lord, to obey Him both in good and bad times. What will you do when obeying God means to put your life on the line? What will you do when obeying God will bring about some hurts, not just to you but also to those around you, who you love? What will you do when obeying God will make you look foolish? You look for explanations to give but cannot find and no one understands you? What will you do when to obey God means to suffer loss?

I am well aware of the fact that this is not an easy terrain. Some people may term people like us alarmists and believers that always look at the negative and bad side of everything about Christianity. For example, some time ago, I shared about the coming persecution that might come upon the church, and a brother asked me to remove his name from the Evergreen Word of Life Mailing List without any explanations. I equally believe in the goodness of God. My problem with those that see only the good things that come with salvation is that they do not want to accept the lordship and sovereignty of Christ. 

When God moves on to implement His sovereign plans, will our response be that of obedience and submission to His eternal will or will it be that of rebellion? Who are we to question God in the things He allows and not allow in His eternal will which He mapped out before the world began? I agree that some things that happen also are caused because of the Fall of Man and the presence of sin. However, will everything always work for our pleasure or God’s pleasure? When God’s pleasure clashes with our own pleasures, are we ready to submit and obey?

The more I read the Bible the more I see saints that denied themselves, the more I see believers that obeyed God even when the times were very dangerous. As I read stories of men who God used, I see men who were totally sold out to Him and damned the views, values and opinions of the world around them. The more I read the Bible, the more I see men that obedience to God landed them into 'trouble'; men that obedience to God was very costly both to them and those around them. It cost them cherished relationships, material things, positions and comforts of this life. For some of them, they came out like Joseph in Egypt, Daniel, Shedrach, Mishach, and Abednego in Babylon, and received deliverance and were promoted in life. Meanwhile for others like Isaiah, Jeremiah, many old prophets, James the brother of John and others listed in the later part of Hebrews 11, obedience to God meant suffering and death.

We need to look at our lives and those around us. Are we ready to be all that God wants us to be? Are we ready to obey God even if it hurts? Are we ready to remain loyal to Him till the end?

I am not a hero yet. As I pray for others, I equally pray for myself. God has only laid a burden on my heart to challenge His people. Life is a test. One of these days, your loyalty will be tested. One of these days your obedience will be tested. For some of you reading this piece, you are already in the middle of your test and you do not know what to do. Please make sure you pass the test. Make sure you obey God at the end of the day. May grace and help not be far from us in difficult times. But your victory in tomorrow’s test starts with today’s decisions. Start taking steps to obey God in little things today. God bless you.