This far we’ve looked at the topic of controlling our tongues from various angles. This week let’s talk about how we use – or misuse – our power of speech when we are in the midst of a trial or difficulty.
Abraham, the father of our faith, stands out immediately as a profound example. Having waited for decades to see God’s promise of a son granted to him, we read in Genesis 22 that God called upon him to sacrifice that very son. I cannot imagine a greater trial than that, can you?
Abraham not only obeyed the voice of God, but he handled the trial with amazing dignity and integrity. First of all, we do not see any evidence that he railed against God. Quite the opposite: he rose ‘early in the morning’, took two servants and his son and did not tell any of them where they were going and why. He quietly went about obeying the Lord in silence.
When Isaac asked his father, ‘Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’, Abraham could have lost it right there! But he didn’t. He simply said, ‘God himself will provide the lamb…’ We hear no self-pity or resentment like ‘How could God do this to me?’ or This doesn’t make any sense.’ He wasn’t sulking or wallowing in self-pity. He dignified the trial with words of faith.
You and I know that God intervened at the last minute and then Abraham had one of the most profound experiences a human being can have: God swore an oath to him. I swear by Myself, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.’
Every person of faith, Jew or Gentile, is a child of Abraham for it was by his faith that he was justified before God, generations before the Torah was given to Israel through Moses.
Speaking words of faith in the midst of a trial or difficult situation is a promised route to greater intimacy with the Lord and a greater anointing on one’s life.
I also think of Eli, the high priest at the time that the prophet Samuel was born. When Samuel was just a child, God called to him and he ran to Eli, thinking the priest had called his name. When it happened the third time, Eli realized that God was speaking to the boy and instructed him to say, ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.’ (I Sam. 3:9)
When the Lord called to Samuel yet again, He delivered a word of judgment against the very priest who was raising Samuel! ‘And the Lord said to Samuel: See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle…I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family…for I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible and he failed to restrain them.’
It had to have been terrifying to a young boy to hear such stern words. How was this child to pass on the word of the Lord to his respected teacher? But when Eli asked him to repeat what the Lord had told him, Samuel did, exactly as he had heard it.
That became a pivotal moment for Eli. How would he react? Would he become angry and vent his anger at the boy prophet?
His verbal response demonstrates that though he was at fault as a father, there was nevertheless, a profound respect for the Lord within the old priest. He said: ‘He is the Lord; let Him do what is good in His eyes.” (vs. 18) His sons died shortly thereafter in battle.
To accept a rebuke from God without complaining or rebelling against it is remarkable. Eli accepted the word of the Lord and made no attempt to excuse himself or rationalize his failure. Secondly, Eli submitted to God’s judgment with humility. He owned his own failures and yielded to God’s discipline without complaint.
Speaking words of faith in the midst of God’s rebuke is a promised route to greater intimacy with the Lord and a greater anointing on one’s life.
One last example: Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was told that a large army from Edom was coming against him. Alarmed, as any national leader would be, he turned to the Lord for wisdom and guidance, calling all of Judah to fast with him. The word of the Lord came to the king in response to the prayer and fasting: ‘You will not have to fight this battle…do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow and the Lord will be with you.’ 2 Chron. 20:17
The king took the prophetic word seriously and addressed his people. ‘Listen to me, Judah, and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.’
So far, so good, but what he did next was remarkable. He appointed a company of men to go out at the front of the army, singing praises to the Lord, giving thanks to Him for the victory before a single arrow flew through the air.
And what did God do? He ambushed the enemy and Judah overcame them.
Speaking words of praise in faith in the midst of a trial expresses a level of faith that delights the heart of God and brings victory every single time.
Whatever the trial, temptation or difficulty may be, the outcome has a great deal to do with our words in the midst of it. These are but three of many examples in the Scriptures which serve to inspire us to trust and confidence in the very heat of a battle.
Like Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego in the furnace, we, too, can be absolutely certain that a ‘fourth Man’ is in the fire with us – always!