Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)
Confidence: a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances…faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way…the quality or state of being certain…a relation of trust or intimacy…reliance on another’s discretion. (source).
I’ve been thinking about confidence lately, how much I admire people who seem always confident. They make consistently good decisions–and often fast! They know their business. And there is just something about them that exudes confidence. We trust them (unless and until we might find out they are con artists, so we have to use discernment because people are not always what they seem).
Of course this leaves the rest of us somewhere in the middle of confident and wrestling with some form of internal or external panic!
Just now, during the pandemic (which some have dubbed “panic-demic), psychologists and especially pediatricians are voicing concern over the negative psychological effects of all the sensationized news (after all, if it bleeds, it leads, as the old journalism axiom goes), while there is plenty of good news to go around–and to calm nerves.
But there are even conflicting reports among the scientists on the case, particularly when it comes to the statistics! But, then, to cite another axiom, “he who frames the argument,” or in this case, frames certain data, “wins the debate,” so discernment is also paramount in that regard.
However, COVID-19 is new, or a new variant of some flu or flu-like virus, and each new class of that awful stuff has always been a challenge to both treat effectively, if there is a better way, let alone design a vaccine to prevent, if one can be discovered.
But back to the issue of confidence during pandemics–or any other time–there are some “ordinary,” you might put it, people who are confident, too.
Maybe they don’t necessarily decide matters with surety and speed and maybe they look as if they are concerned, too–even scared to death!–but there is still something about them…
Some are those who, through experience, know that the vast majority of what we stress about does not come to fruition.
Others may know what’s comng up but have learned the enviable art of “living in the moment,” so that they don’t dwell on the “later on,” thus having more time, energy, and clarity of thought to tend to today’s issues and to prep for the future, whatever may or may not come.
And there are still other people who are trained or just determined to analyze situations from the “10,000-foot view” (I call this “thinking like an engineer”). They may know there’s real trouble or pain ahead, but they look to outcomes, the bigger picture, the overview, meanwhile living in the only time capsule we can ever really know for sure: the one in which we are living right now, the narrow slice of eternity called today–this hour, minute, nano-second.
But there is one other group comprised of both old and young; both seasoned by age and life and brand new to it; both healthy, wealthy, and wise–or even, amazingly, sickly, poor, and/or untried!
Among this unlikely band of pilgrims on the trail through time stretching from the get-go to now, are those who’ve placed their trust–and confidence–in the original Wise One, the God who “knows the end from the beginning” and in whom we can trust completely.
A subset of this group, treading up there at 10,000 feet, are believers who keep their eyes on biblical prophecy and just now in particular, regarding both temporal and spiritual history, they offer an understanding of how the two fit together like hand and glove.
What they see and are both warning and encouraging us to perceive also, are events that may well herald the “end of the Church Age of Christianity,” aka “end times” and “last days”. Here is an overview of this perspective.
But aside from details in the books of Daniel and Revelation in particular about this period (good places to start) there are also innumerable refences to the confidence we can have–not in world experts or ourselves so much as in God’s ways, means, science, and prophecies.
In other words, we don’t HAVE to be those super-confident, intelligent, well-educated, and articulately-spoken individuals to whom we tend to look to for hope, let alone accurate answers.
We have the Confident of confidents, as it were, to lead, guide, and direct us.
His Word, an inspired anthology of 66 books tracking thousands of years of history and hope, reminds us there is more than just the best and brightest of mankind to whom, to where, we can look for help.
Consider just these reminders of the confidence we can have in God, found in every book of the Bible, whether in narrative, poetic, prophetic, epistolic, or apocalyptic form:
For the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. (Proverbs 3:26)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Of course this is a very small sampling of what can be found there.
Here is another bit of encouragement from Pastor Daryl Evans, who cited the above scriptures and more at “What Christians Want to Know, Topics to Equip, Encourage, and Energize“:
The Bible reminds us that our own confidence or even our self-confidence ultimately comes from our maker God. It is not something that only the strong willed person can possess but all who call themselves followers of Christ. My prayer today is that you have confidence in your faith in God. Far too often Satan seems to wear down believers and make them feel unsure of their own faith. God’s word is powerful and it is strong. We can have confidence in serving and following the only true and living God. Be encouraged by that and have the confidence to share your faith and belief in God (with) all that you come into contact with.
Thus, even if we can’t have “a feeling or consciousness” of our own powers or “reliance on (our own) circumstances”; even if we we don’t always have “faith or belief that (we) will act in a right, proper, or effective way”; even if we don’t always possess “the quality or state of being certain,” or can’t seem to find trust to be able to even rely “on another’s discretion,” even if they seem to be confident, we have God.
May I encourage you to check Him out if this physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or psychologically damaging Age of COVID has you in some state of panic.
You’re not the only one.
For God is the One with the most hopeful perspective–and help in this and any time of need.
Here’s one more reason to be confident–in Him:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
It may be a bumpy ride from here to there, but the view from 10,000 feet and into eternity still looks good.
So carry on in confidence–which is also bound to boost all your immunities.
BUT WAIT! WHAT ABOUT…?
I know. Sometimes the “ending” to this or that challenge is not so good just now or even later. Prophetically speaking, for example, believers are here for all the precursors to the Tribulation Period, the last seven years of “the age”. (Some traditions teach we go through the entire time period, even God’s “wrath,” but that’s another topic. Here’s a summary of several views on what is called the “Rapture,” i.e., how God will spare believers from His wrath.)
But back to the trouble just ahead, for if we are in the prophetic time period many believe we are, Jesus certainly indicates trouble will come (even before the Rapture). He likens this time period to “birth pangs”**.
Although there is a many-pronged heresy*** infesting the church just now that teaches that we should all be healthy, successful, and wealthy and there’s no such thing as the Tribulation while we grow ever more into the best people we can be until we, well, own the world, the real history of the Christian church, besides the miracles, healings, and extraordinary provisions provided by God, reveals that everything was/is not as rosy and perfect as some insist it should be if we behave correctly–like they do.
For example, even the apostles who were actually with Jesus when He walked on earth, saw the miracles, experienced the (real) Holy Spirit, and ministered, themselves in His annointing, were thrown out of towns and villages, beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and rejected time after time.
Through time, many other Christians have also experienced this kind of persecution.
According to Open Doors, an organization that keeps the world current on the most dangerous places to convert to Christianity today, the trouble mounts again. Here is a list from just one year ago.
The last century alone is considered to have been the worst for Christian martyrdom around the world largely, according to researchers, due to the sharp rise of communism and mu slim fundamentalism.
You will not hear much if at all about this in the new feel-good churches or, as my father used to call them, “Churches of What’s Happening Now”.
But there’s more! (along with some even more important encouragement at the end).
So How Can We Have Confidence in THIS God?!
Going to the bad news of all bad news first, consider Jesus, Himself, sinless, perfect–yet terrified just prior to His arrest, torture, and crucifixion. Accounts indicate He was so distressed, He sweat blood.
But if you have ever read what He went through at the hands of His killers, in our place and in His flesh–and He was aware of what was ahead for Him being well-versed in the prophecies concerning the pain and agony just ahead–He knew it would get much worse.
Here is a forensic analysis of what happened to Jesus’ body just prior to and during the crucifixion.
Of course, only God the Father and God the Son know what far deeper pain and anguish occurred that prompted Jesus to cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
There is something about what will happen to those who still reject God’s grace-filled plan of salvation when the time is up on earth to do so, that Jesus also experienced during His crucifixion, that had to do with the raw horror of the separation from love, light, goodness, hope, compassion, encouragement, and salvation; the primal terror of being someplace that no goodness of any kind will penetrate…ever again…that Jesus must have felt if just momentarily…
For if we ultimately reject God, that is what awaits.
But if you are reading this, time is still on your side. Don’t delay. If the prophecy scholars are right. Here is why and how.
And now back to the confidence element as an immunity booster when panic hammers at the mind, emotion, and/or spirit.
Ever wonder how Jesus could have withstood the horrible events to follow at the hands of His arguably demonically-driven executioners?
For one thing, He knew the prophecies.
But in the confines of being a human being, even as Jesus sweat blood that night on the Mount of Olives, even though He looked ahead to the eternal significance of the “passion” of the next day (as offering Himself as our sacrificical lamb is often called) God’s own Son needed comfort.
He, too, it might be said, experienced a loss of confidence, to say the least…
And His Father gave Him a “boost,” you might say:
“An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him” (Luke 22:43).
Jesus saw the 10,000-foot view.
He knew the prophetic outline.
He saw the bigger picture, indeed, the eternal picture–for us.
Yet God sent Him comfort in His own hour of panic.
And, ponder this, it is also written,
He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made… (John 1:2-3)
Jesus, you might say, knew from the dawn of time and of salvation what would happen not only through Him, but to Him when He donned flesh to come to the dimension in which we live and breathe to live among us and die physically, undoubtedly also, in a sense, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and what might also constitute a kind of terror at being abandoned spiritually as well, for us.
And, to my point, even though He was there from the beginning, JESUS, TOO, “IN THE FLESH,” NEEDED A CONFIDENCE BOOST!
By communcating with, speaking to, and crying out for His Father (and ours), He was comforted.
By an angel, no less.
And considering from the forensic analysis alone what Jesus was facing in the day ahead, He received what He needed to go forth in trust–and confidence.
Of course we will never face a truly existential threat to our well-being as did Jesus, He being the only perfect, sacrificial Lamb of God. But we will have our own trials and tribulations as the world does what it does best: gets worse.
Some people in their own traumas do report the presence of angels, or so they say. They report “hearing the voice of God,” and/or some other supernatural form of assistance, comfort, guidance, and/or wisdom***. But most of us don’t have those kinds of experiences.
However, we can still be comforted, assured, and led by the same God Who was there for Jesus and saw to comforting Him, boosting His confidence, you might say.
I am reminded here of the story Corrie ten Boom tells of how her father explained that God gives us what we need right when we need it, just as the conductor gives us our ticket to board the train right before we get on.
But How Do You Get This Confidence?
In a nutshell, by keeping the path of communication open between you and God.
Jesus, for example, was always, it seems, going off to be alone with Father God for prayer and wisdom, comfort, and guidance. So as I see it, there’s just something about communing with God; about praying and listening and applying what is revealed there whether “in the cool of the evening” (like Adam and Eve before the Fall) or at any other time of day or night.
It is in tending to our side of this relationship, in my view, that we are slowly “being transformed into (Jesus’) image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
And it is in tending this we gain trust and confidence.
But what if we’re not hearing or gleaning it through God’s Word, fellowship, or some other means? Or we feel far from Him?
Check your path.
If it is strewn with mixed motives (see the previous post), forsake pride, ask for forgiveness, and deal with any cloudy motives. Ask for discernment and help as needed.
And the result?
My daughter and I were discussing this very thing recently. We both agreed: when we finally “get back with God,” i.e., confess, change course, etc., it is as if He is RIGHT THERE, waiting, having been eagerly anticipating our return so He can resume guiding, inspiring, teaching, comforting–and boosting our trust and confidence in His love for us and in His provision.
It is as if God, with a big smile on His face runs to the returning prodigal, and shouts, with joy and anticipation,
“Now, where were we?”
For He has not moved away.
Stay close, carry on……being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
I feel a moment of worship, here. A bit of respite from all the bad news, fear, and terror, from the fomenting darkness of the world outside that would mute hope and confidence, if it could.
Here is a quiet tribute to the night God’s own Son quietly slipped through the seem of time and of creation, slipped through the veil of darkness, fulfilling hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, that we might, by faith through grace, slip through the veil of our own darkness into hope and comfort and eternal salvation.
Here is where it all began that once in time, for all time that once.
*Here is a good discussion of the variations on this type of heresy that goes by several names.
**There are several commentaries about why and perhaps how the childbirth analogy might be very apt when it comes to “end times”–from a mom.
***Many Reader’s Digest articles, for example, of extraordinary rescues reveal such instances of help “from somewhere,” usually after a brief “call out” to God, similar to the brevity and panic of, say Peter’s call out to Jesus when he wanted to walk on water during a storm at sea just like Jesus was doing. Peter’s confidence, however, lasted for a very few seconds and all he had time to “pray” was “Lord, save me!”
And the Lord did.