“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Where do you turn when you’re in distress? Where do you run when you’re troubled? Or seek counsel when you’re gripped with worry?
Not so very long ago, I found myself in a situation of deep distress. Torn with anxiety, I felt as if the pressure was going to push me through the floor.
As the burden pressed in on me one morning, my first thought was to find my husband and just pour it all out to him. But Jack wasn’t home that day.
Almost automatically I picked up the phone to call him. I had my finger on the button to call. But something kept me from dialing.
I couldn’t go to my husband. I couldn’t go to anybody but the Lord. I had to have the mind of God on this matter.
Alone with God, I cried out to Him in my anguish. Like Hezekiah in the face of the besieging Assyrians, I got on my knees and just spread out my situation before the Lord.
He heard my cry. Before I got up from of prayer, He laid the solution out for me. With no doubt at all, I knew what needed to be done. The fog of anxiety lifted from my heart. The path ahead was clear again. Instead of distress, I felt peace.
As grateful as I am for my husband, my friends, and godly counselors, I was so glad that this time I had run right to the Lord. Instead of turning to the left or the right for refuge, I had hurried straight into the strong tower of His name. Like Gideon before me, I discovered firsthand that He is Jehovah-shalom — The Lord is Peace.
In some very dark hours of Israel’s history, God revealed Himself to Gideon as Jehovah-shalom. He was the first to call on the Lord by that name. By every standard, this young man was an unlikely candidate for divine revelation. Gideon’s family was one of the least in Manasseh.
At this juncture in history, Scripture says succinctly: “Israel was brought very low because of Midian” (Judges 6:6).
Why were they so low? It’s not too difficult to guess the reason, is it?
Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord gave them into the hands of Midian seven years. The power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. (Judges 6:1-2)
When the hour is dark, when the situation is desperate, when we are humbled and brought very low, we finally begin looking and longing for God’s peace. Trembling, we grope through the darkness, longing to know that all will be well.
When the angel of Jehovah appeared to Gideon, he was crouching in the dark confines of a winepress, threshing wheat in secret to protect it from the invaders. Now, I may not be an expert on ancient Near Eastern agriculture, but I do know one thing: you do not thresh wheat in a winepress!
The idea behind threshing is to separate the heavier grain from the lighter chaff — and you need open air and a good breeze for that. But Israel was desperate, and you do desperate things when you’re hungry and afraid.
The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? …the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:12-14)
At first Gideon questioned this angel of the Lord and complained about his circumstances. How could God really love Israel? How could God really care about Gideon when they were all in such distress, danger, and poverty?
Gideon did not yet know to Whom he was speaking.
You may have never lived in a war zone, but you can probably relate to being in a stressful situation that presses the very core of your being. Maybe you need to change to whom you turn for comfort, peace and security.
Call on Jehovah-Shalom. He will meet you wherever you are.
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Host, Precepts for Life
Co-Founder, Precept Ministries International
In the days of Jeremiah, Israel’s spiritual condition was much like our nation’s today. God chose Jeremiah to call people to turn from sin and idolatry and return to Him. Facing unbelievable opposition, Jeremiah warned the people who wouldn’t listen of God’s holy wrath that would soon be poured out.
How can we get close to God—close enough to hear His voice, know His power and presence, “feel His pleasure,” as Eric Liddell put it in the movie, Chariots of Fire?
“The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Bob Dylan’s hit song from 1964, was right—they were changing! A generation of young “hippies” was convinced—American society was at the door to a cultural revolution. Thousands of “flower children” of the 1960s in Haight Ashbury (San Francisco) and Berkeley thought they would usher in communities of peace, love, unity, and sharing that would embarrass organizations representing traditional values (like churches).
If you’re in a difficult trial today my friend, if you’re confronted by an enemy or if you’re being seduced by your mind, by your desires, there’s a key question you need to ask before you head down a path to look for answers other than down the straight and narrow path of God’s Word.