This year has been a year of tough decisions for many people. Many have had to make decisions not knowing all the facts or all the situation or all the challenges that still lie ahead. This year has left many weighing the tough choices of life, asking, “Do I try this or do I try that? Do I turn here or do I turn there? Do I listen to this or do I listen to that? Do I trust the data or do I trust my gut? Do I turn to the experts or do I turn to the crowd?” Not only must we reckon with all the options between our decisions, we also have to face all the outcomes from our decisions, “what will happen if…,” “how will things go if…,” “what about…” Whether it’s decisions involving family, work, church, or school, we are confronted with tough decisions. So, how do we deal with the stress, worry, and uncertainties of these decisions? How do we handle the strains of life that at times seem to press in on all sides?
First, because of Jesus…our God calls us to trust. He makes no promises that life will be easy, but He makes every promise that He is there with us through every difficulty and trial. Our God again and again comes in the Scriptures promising that He is with us, watching over us, walking alongside us through every joy and sorrow shared. From Matthew 28 (“behold I am with you to the end of the age”) to Hebrews 13 (“I will never leave you nor forsake you…”), He pledges His promise to sustain us and strengthen us for each day. In the midst of the strains of tough decisions He invites us to turn to Him for our daily bread. We may not have all the answers or know all the outcomes, but we know the one who does. We may not know the reasons for our current circumstances, but we know His disposition toward us. In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we see God’s true feelings towards us. He loves us with an unconditional and unending love. It is for this reason that we can trust that He will remain faithful to his promises.
Second, because of Jesus…our God calls us to confession. In every decision our Heavenly Father invites us to confess that we believe both in His grace and in His care. We believe that He is able to cover over and forgive every bad decision whether it came from a sinful motive or simply a mistaken choice. We therefore can approach life and trust that He will love us no matter where we have gone wrong. And yet we also confess that God is at work in our lives that He is able to bring about growth in us and eternal good in every faithful endeavor. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, [h] for those who are called according to His purpose…For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28).
Third, because of Jesus…our God calls us to prayer. Too many people think of prayer as a desire for God to take care of our problems for us. Too many people see prayer as a request that God somehow and in some way will ‘fix’ things for us. God has done something about the problems and pains in our world. He created us and gave us faith in Him. Prayer is not just a last-ditch effort or something that we use to ask for God’s miraculous intervention. Prayer is a way for us to thoughtfully reflect upon and wrestle with what is God showing me in my life and what is He strengthening me to do about it. Certainly we call upon God to be at work within our world and yet we must come to wrestle with the question, “What do we mean when we pray, ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’?” In praying these things, we ask not only that God’s will would be done but that it would be done among us, in us, and through us as well.
Fourth, because of Jesus…our God calls us to praise. Too often we see praise as something that comes when all is right or when we get the answer we desire. Praise however is the very thing that colors our lives as we pause in the midst of good and bad to count our blessings and turn to Him who is our ultimate good. Praise reorients our perspective and calls us to see things from God’s point of view.
When it comes to making tough decisions, God invites us to approach life not for salvation but from salvation. We approach life not to prove ourselves but as a proof that God has already loved us in Jesus Christ. When we recall daily God’s eternal love and unconditional grace promised to us, we are able to step out confidently knowing that whether we choose rightly or wrongly, we know that we can rest in His peace. May God’s peace go with you this month, as you trust, confess, pray, and praise.
Pastor Kurt Ebert