Loving the Lord Who is near

1 Jun

How do we know that the Lord is with us as we move through trials?
His Word assures us that He is.
“The Lord is near.” Phil. 4:5b
And in Acts 17 Paul told the Athenians that in Him we live and move and have our being.
He knows the trials that engulf us for we live and move in Him.
This fact was brought home to me when I went to jail. Part of that story appears below. A byproduct of trials is that as we commune with Him through the pain, our love for Him grows.
(Parts taken from the book ‘Christ: The Prince of Peace Even in Jail’)
The deputy took me into the building which housed the jail, and directly to inmate processing.
Jailers gave me a one-piece orange prison uniform to wear along with matching orange sandals. The pieces constituted my clothing for the next week.
For the next several hours, I tried to sleep on a wooden bench in a cold waiting room.
I used a flyer a jailer gave me to shield my eyes from the bright lights. The flyer explained the risks of contracting HIV in jail.
Copying a young black inmate who joined me in the waiting room, I tried to put my arms inside the orange jump suit to stay warm. But my arms would not comfortably fit inside for long. I was cold.
Christ set an example about how we should oftentimes respond to injustices. I accepted jail as God’s will for me and trusted the Lord.
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23
Later, while in jail, I also sought comfort in several verses and promises:
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13
“In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.” Psalm 31:1
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Prov. 16:9
“The LORD works out everything for His own ends….” Prov. 16:4a

“I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So, do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:9b-10
I could rely on these facts:
The Lord was, and is, determining my steps.
The Lord is with me and will help me.
The Lord works out everything for His own ends.
Together they forged in me a new and deeper trust in God, that He was carrying out a plan for me and my family.
Jail must be a part of God’s plan for me. I wasn’t happy to be incarcerated or downcast in spirit, but by God’s grace I was looking to Him.
When you are left with no one to reach out to or turn to but Christ, that is when you know that He is real. That He is. The communion with God at the point of crisis, or trials, generates a deeper love for Him. Though you do not see Christ in the flesh, your love for Him grows, as 1 Peter says:
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love.” 1 Peter 1:6-8a
Do you tell the Lord often that you love Him?
Telling the Lord that I loved Him was new to me. If asked, though, since late 1987 I would have professed that I did. But under intense pressure, that profession became regular practice starting in late 2017.
That confession of love can be a fruit of the various trials that bring grief. That genuineness of faith, as Peter writes, is much more precious than gold which perishes. Likewise, Jesus said that love is the greatest commandment.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Christ was asked in Matt. 22:36.
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”

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