Sunday, August 7, 2011

In God We Trust

In the days and months following the Black Tuesday stock market crash in 1929, despair over financial ruin prompted many suicides. One man left this note behind before ending his life: "My body should go to science, my soul to Andrew W. Mellon, and sympathy to my creditors." Eventually the despair over lost fortunes trickled down to the general population, when savings carefully accrued through lifetimes of frugal living evaporated as banks failed. For one very long decade, hope was difficult to come by.

When you base your security and hope on the wrong thing, the rug may very well get pulled out from under you.

God made His desire that His people trust only in Him very clear as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. Knowing a human tendency to trust in one's own devices, He cautioned the nation's future leadership: "He shall not multiply horses for himself... He shall not multiply wives for himself... nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself" (Deuteronomy 17:16-17). In a quest for any of these, a king would ultimately be seeking security in the wrong places. A build up of horses would increase military might. God wanted the nation to trust in Him, not in their own ability to fight off an enemy. A king often married to solidify treaty agreements with other nations. But God did not want the nation's sense of security to come from promises made from the peoples surrounding them. And he did not want them to base their security on wealth, either. God wanted Israel's security to be based on Him alone.

How important is it to God that we as individuals base our confidence and security in Him? Pretty important. Near the end of his life, King David gave the order that all of Israel and Judah be counted in a census. Seems harmless enough, until we hear the census results that were given to David. 800,000 sword bearers resided in Israel, and 500,000 troops in Judah. David wasn't interested in counting people. He was counting troops. This was a sin of pride and self-sufficiency, of basing confidence in military might. Bad move.

God was quick to respond. He sent a plague upon the nation and 70,000 men died that day. It was hard to miss the message.

On an earlier occasion, when the Israelites stood poised at the gateway to the Promised Land, they shrank back in fear as spies sent in earlier to check out the land gave their report. The inhabitants of the land were huge. The cities were well-fortified. Anyone with half a brain would know their quest to take the land was hopeless. Two lone men, Joshua and Caleb, argued against the masses. "If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us... Do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us." But the people refused to trust God. Their punishment would fit the crime. God never allowed them to enter the Promised Land. They perished in the desert because of their sin.

Oh, yes, my friends, God is serious about our trusting Him. Jesus was, too. When asked to cast a demon out of a young boy, he took exception to the father's lack of confidence expressed in his request: "If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!"

Everything came to a halt. "If?" Jesus said. "If you can? All things are possible to him who believes." It wasn't until the man expressed a desire to trust Him that Jesus healed his son.

On the front of each US coin, the familiar words are imprinted: In God We Trust. They are an ironic reminder that our security cannot be in money, power, or other people. Our hope must lie in the Lord alone.

In Christ, the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

what a great (and timely) post! It is true of us as a Nation...and true of us as individuals. God blesses and cares for those who trust Him...and when we don't, our fortunes can change quite suddenly.

I particularly find this post appropriate as I'm looking forward to the Philly Writers' Conference this weekend. There are MANY things that I will have to trust God for in order to go and benefit from this time...But if my eyes are focused where they belong, NO MATTER WHAT:God will care for me and honor my trust in HIm.

See you there!