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Relying on God: 5 useful facts

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The past few weeks have been incredibly stressful. I’m in the last straight line of my PhD, but there is still a fair amount to do. I’m moving to the Parisian region, where I have a job (and I’m thankful for that), but nowhere to live yet. I  had plenty of bits and bobs to sort out over these few days, including packing up everything I had accumulated over the past 4 years I’ve lived in Coventry; and trying to shed enough useless stuff so it would all fit in a few suitcases that I can carry on the train. I had to see a fair few faces to say goodbye to them (although hopefully not for the last time).

Not the best of times by a long stretch. I’ve felt very, very panicky at times, when I was contemplating how September would pan out. So I tried to remember what I preached; about finding God’s peace before moving into action. I really tried.


Photo: star5112, reused under CC license

But my brain would go into overdrive, and it took every effort to not give in to the panic. I even got physically sick one morning. Thankfully, those moments never last very long, because I immediately try to find God and His peace, and to stop being afraid.

The problem is that whenever the situation looks up – say, for instance, if I find the perfect accommodation offer, which is much much better than all I had seen so far -I use it to justify all the times that plans fizzled out before. Surely that accommodation was God’s plan all along! And when that fails too, well, I’m left with God failing.

I’m sure you can see how that sort of feeling might be an issue.

Still, there are some facts that make it all okay after all – some facts which allow me to fully rely on God:

1. God is sovereign. That means that He is in control of my circumstances – and that may be hard to see when everything goes to pot; but He also knows better than anything I can ever plan. So He is more trustworthy than anything I come up with.

2. He cares about me – as an individual. Which means He isn’t trying to get me to fail; and I’m sure that my temporary homelessness will serve another purpose than simply to get me to stress. And even if that’s the only purpose it serves, well, I’m sure that the stress itself will lead to growth and a whole new set of skills. (Although it is not helpful to read Job to affirm this  point…)

3. It’s not about what I do or did. It’s very easy to default to a karma mindset when things go wrong. Maybe I’m being punished for not reading my Bible as diligently as I should have. Maybe I’ve indulged in procrastination too much. The thought behind that mindset is that if I fix those problems, it will all get better. A karma mindset is a way for me to have a weird form of control over what is happening; and that leads to feelings of guilt and, ultimately, increases stress because it denies God’s sovereignty.

4. Being stressed is natural. It doesn’t feel nice, and I’d rather avoid it altogether; but there should be no guilt in fear of the future. Gideon was afraid; but God still reached out to him in his fear. Don’t be ashamed of your fear, and offer it up to God as well as what’s causing it.

5. Being fully reliant on God does not mean I shouldn’t search for flats through the secular means. It simply means that I should trust Him for the outcome of this search. On that note, if you know anyone renting out a place/looking for a flatmate in Saint-Denis,let me know I have now found a great place!

What does relying on God look like for you?

It’s ok to be afraid


Some of the Bible’s most encouraging verses tell us not to be afraid – that God is with us. Some argue the fear of God is the only good fear.

This can lead people to a feeling of inadequacy or worthlessness.

Leaders, especially, should not be afraid… because they know they can rest on the Lord, and should set a good example of a peaceful heart. And they should exhort their followers to show no fear and a complete boldness in everything they undertake.


Image: Wil Wheaton, reused under CC license

God knows us perfectly. He knows our fears, and he knows how to deal with them if and when appropriate. Look at what he says to Gideon:

“But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant.” (Judges 7:10, ESV).

Gideon does not try to look tough in front of God. He does not try to pretend he’s not afraid. He takes God’s advice, acknowledges his own fear and goes down to the camp.

In the same way, we should not try to pretend we’re not afraid: it can only lead to that fear taking hold of us, or to a feeling of undue pride and self-importance.

Conversely, though, we should recognise when our “fear” is a lie. When it is simply disguising laziness or fickleness in front of a decision. The fact that God knows us and loves us and is on our side means that he will deal with our fear, if it is real, in due time.

Ever since I started to feel a call towards ministry, I have felt the fear that I was mistaken. That I wouldn’t be up to the task. God has dealt with that fear, in many various ways (including making me stumble upon a few great bloggers – thanks Ben; and including leading me to certain parts of Scripture). But still now, I sometimes feel like I’m afraid to make the wrong decision. That fear is a lie – it is simply a way for me to justify putting off decisions; and recognising it helps.

Which of your fears are lies? Which are real?