Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Faithfulness in Life’s Storms

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Listen, if you're a child of God, God has already redeemed and delivered you from the worst possible outcome that anyone from sin, from Satan, from hell, from eternal damnation and condemnation, from the wrath of God. You have been delivered.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Thursday, September 6, 2018.

Nancy: I can pretty much guarantee, you’re either in a storm right now, or you’re coming out of a storm, or you’re heading into one. I don't mean to discourage you, but storms are a part of life here on this earth. Thankfully, we have a God who walks with us through the storms.

Over the course of the last forty years of ministry, I've walked through a lot of storms myself. And I've walked with a lot of other women through some deep and difficult storms in their own lives. Whether it is counseling my own heart or ministering to the needs of other women, I've found it's so important to learn how to keep our eyes fixed on Christ—clinging to the truth we know, even when it seems that the waves around us are rising higher and higher. 

I’m so grateful for the way God has used His Word to encourage my own heart as well as the hearts of many women I know in the midst of storms over these years.

Leslie: Yes, Nancy, in fact a Revive Our Hearts listener wrote not too long ago and told us her story. She said,

Over four years ago my husband had walked away from our marriage and had an affair. He had a child on the way.

This woman had been listening to Revive Our Hearts each day on her way to work and God used it to help her through this horrible situation. She said,

Your program and Nancy’s books were such an encouragement to my heart during the bleakest time in my life. The ministry also encouraged me to pray that God would heal and restore our marriage.

There are so many women just like this one, desperately needing to hear the truth during life’s biggest difficulties. Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you the rest of the story. This listener wrote to say,

This summer we will celebrate seventeen years of marriage and three years of recommitment to those vows. God has given us so much healing and grace. I can’t even imagine how we would be here without Him.

Not every story will turn out just like this one. Maybe you’re still in the middle of the struggle. I hope you’re encouraged by what you’re about to hear. Trusting the Lord during suffering is one of the main themes Nancy’s covered during her forty years of serving the Lord full time. Let’s explore that theme by listening to one of the very first Revive Our Hearts messages ever recorded. The series is called “Finding God in the Desert.”

Nancy "(re-titled) Walking Through Life's Deserts":  God sends us into the desert to teach us. “He humbled you,” Deuteronomy 8, verse 3, says, “causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna . . . to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (NIV). God had something He wanted to teach His people, and it took the desert for them to learn it.

You see, it’s in the desert that we learn what really matters. We learn what’s really necessary. That’s where the children of Israel learned that they needed more than physical bread to sustain their lives. They needed the Word of God to sustain their hearts, to sustain their souls and their spirits. There was an inner part of them that had a need that was even more crucial than their physical needs.

We’re so driven by our physical needs. I mean, if we’re hungry, that is the ultimate need, right? We’re so driven by what we can see and touch and taste—our natural physical senses—but God sends us into the desert, where sometimes those needs may not be met. Even a period of fasting voluntarily can be so healthy for the soul because we find out, “I need more than physical food to live. I need God. I need Him more than I need air to breathe.” We find out what really matters.

A friend wrote me recently and told me about a three-year period where God had taken him through a desert experience. He’s in full-time Christian work, and he was still continuing to serve the Lord, but he says, “During that three-year period, there was an amazing absence of the emotional sense of God’s presence. Day after day, over three years, of feeling like God was nowhere near.”

He went on to say, “Here are some lessons I’ve learned.” That’s the point. Through those three years, he experienced day after day of feeling, “I can’t see God. I can’t sense Him. I’m not experiencing Him in ways that I have at other times.” And then he says, “Here’s what I learned.” That’s the point. God sends us into the desert to teach us.

Another friend, the wife of a staff member in our ministry, wrote me recently. She talked about some desert experiences she’d had and some of the things God had taught her. Let me share with you what God taught her. She said,

I’ve learned that life on earth really isn’t perfect and probably will never flow along in the perfect storybook ways we often imagine. But God is very real, and He gives grace and energy to deal with those daily things.

In the desert, you really do learn to treasure the life that is in Christ, because it’s very real, and He is very powerful. You learn that even if God doesn’t answer specific prayers for things you thought were genuine needs, He powerfully provides the still-cans.

[Here’s what she means by that.] Even if my kids don’t have a vibrant youth group experience as teenagers”—[maybe you’re in a church where the youth group isn’t quite what we would have hoped it would have been]—God can still mold them into adults with a heart for Him.

[God’s still-cans.] Even if our financial income is never quite what we think we need, God can still provide what we need in other ways. Even if my husband can’t take time off so we can take a family vacation, God can still help us to enjoy what’s around us in this place and help us be content and happy.

You find that God still can meet your needs, even when He isn’t answering or responding in the way that you thought He should have or the way that you asked.

So God sends us into the desert to teach us.

And then He sends us into the desert to strengthen our faith and to make us dependent on Him. He wants to teach us total reliance upon Him. He wants to strip us of reliance on ourselves or reliance on others.

The children of Israel, when they were back in Egypt, were totally reliant on Pharaoh. Now, it wasn’t much of a life, because Pharaoh didn’t have a heart for these Israelites, but when they ended up in the desert, they looked back wistfully on Egypt at points.

They said, “Oh, how wonderful it was in Egypt.” What short memories they had! But they were dependent on Pharaoh, and they had food to eat, and Pharaoh was their provider. But God wanted them to come to the place where they depended totally on Him.

How does God put us in that place where we have no props, we have no substitutes, we have nothing or no one else we can depend on?

Your friends move away, or they die, or they fall out of your life in some way, or your financial support falls away in some sense. The “things”—the visible means of support that you had looked to—are removed.

And what happens? Then you find God really is enough. You’ll never know that Christ is all you need, really, until He’s all you have. And when He is all that you have, you will find out that Christ really is all that you need. So God, in the deserts, makes us dependent on Him.

The apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians chapter 1, talked about the hardships he had endured while ministering in Asia. He said, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure” (v. 8 NIV).

I cannot tell you how often I go to this passage, and I find what my own heart needs in my moments when I feel so stretched, when I feel like I can’t be stretched any more.

The apostle Paul experienced that. He said, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:8-9 NIV).

If we’re going to die, then we know we’re relying on God, who does resurrections. So what’s the worst that can happen to me in this experience? I die. Well, what’s so bad about that? God raises the dead. Paul said, “No matter what the extremity, how far it goes, it’s okay, because I’m relying on God.”

We tend to rely on things and people that we can see. God wants to teach us to depend on what we cannot see. That’s faith: to rely on His character, His Word. “Man does not live on bread alone”—and that’s the visible—“but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deut. 8:3 NIV).

I read earlier in this series a lengthy excerpt from Charles Colson’s article “My Soul’s Dark Night,” where he talked about a year-long experience of desert in his own life. He concluded that piece by saying,

Faith becomes strongest when we are without consolation and must walk into the darkness with complete abandon. Faith isn’t really faith if we can always rely on a still, small voice of God cheering us on.

So when you can’t hear, when you can’t see, when you don’t know—when you can’t see the outcome and you feel like you’re in this blind, dark night of the soul, this desert experience, with no end in sight—what do you do? You walk by faith. You walk by faith, and that’s where you learn to walk by faith.

As I was studying for this session, a verse came to mind that I hadn’t thought about in some time. It’s from the Song of Solomon, chapter 8, verse 5, and it’s just this one short verse that I think describes so well what happens in our deserts.

It’s talking about the bride and her bridegroom—the bride and her lover—their intimate relationship, and how that relationship is built, how it becomes strengthened. It says in Song of Solomon, chapter 8, verse 5, “Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?”

When you have walked through the wilderness, through the desert, when you come out of the desert, you know what your posture will be? Leaning on your Beloved.

Leaning, leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning [on Jesus]
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, from the series “Finding God in the Desert.” It’s one of many series Nancy’s provided over the years that point women to the Lord even in the middle of very tough circumstances.

Another one of those series is called “The ABCs for Handling a Meltdown.”

Nancy "The ABCs for Handling a Meltdown": Praise is not an emotion. It may involve our emotions, but it is an act of my will. It is a choice I make to bless the Lord.

"Bless" means "to speak well of someone, to speak a good word about them." And the word actually used here, barak, "to bless," has connected with it the meaning of "to bend the knee, to kneel down." It means, "I will bless the Lord, but with a heart attitude of humility, a heart attitude of worship."

So David had been going off in a fearful way, and his mind had just gotten out of control. His emotions and behavior had gotten out of control. His mind and behavior get reined back in, and he says, "I will make a conscious, disciplined choice in my life that no matter what the circumstances, to bless the Lord." He bends the knee; he bows his heart. He humbles himself.

"Lord, You are bigger; You are more real; You are more present than any circumstance I'm facing in my life. My eyes may be filled with tears, but I’m going to lift them up, and with a bowed heart, say 'yes.' I embrace these circumstances. I bless You in the midst of them, because You are still good, no matter what King Saul does. No matter what terrors I may be facing in my life, I will bless You. I'll bless You at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth at all times—in the good times and in the bad times, when I’m happy and when I'm sad, when I feel on top of it and when I feel overwhelmed."

The default reaction, David is saying, of my life, the response, the pattern of my life in every circumstance is going to be what? I will bless the Lord. I will praise Him. "His praise" (v. 1).

That word there is a hymn of praise. It's a song that exalts God. "His praise will continually be in my mouth." I think that is an important part of dealing with meltdowns, dealing with depression and discouragement. It is to speak the truth about who God is, to bless Him with our mouths.

"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony" (Rev. 12:1). To speak the praise of the Lord; to get it from my heart to my mouth. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). So what's in your heart is going to come out. If your heart is centered on God and focused on Him, then out of that will come blessing of the Lord.

He says in verse 2,

My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.

To boast in the Lord. That word "boast" is the Hebrew word, halal. Does that sound like something you've heard before? Hallelujah. Praise to God. Boast in God. The word means "to shine, to be bright, to praise or celebrate, to make something bright." It's the idea of radiance. He says, "I will make a big deal about God."

I'm not going to radiate to other people my problems and my burdens and my concerns, though there is a place for sharing those. But with the goal of pointing each other to the Lord. I’m not going to boast in my frustrations or my issues; I'm going to boast in the Lord. I’m going to make a big deal about Him.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing us how to keep our feet planted on the truth of God’s Word, even when our emotions are raging. We’ve been hearing part of a series called “The ABCs for Handling a Meltdown.” You can hear the rest of that series at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Let’s listen to another classic message from Nancy about trusting God while suffering. It’s called “God’s Faithfulness in Times of Trouble.” She’s in Psalm 107.

Nancy "God's Faithfulness in Times of Trouble": Listen, if you're a child of God, God has already redeemed and delivered you from the worst possible outcome that anyone from sin, from Satan, from hell, from eternal damnation and condemnation, from the wrath of God. You have been delivered.

You may be in a storm. You may be in some other kinds of chains, but you've been delivered in the ways that matter most for all of time and eternity. So says the psalmist, "Give thanks to the Lord. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so."

One devotional writer I've been reading says, "A soul redeemed demands a life of praise." You might want to just write that in the margin of your Bible there. I've written it in mine. "A soul redeemed demands a life of praise."

Women, if you've been redeemed, if I've been redeemed, it is unthinkable that we should live lives of anything other than unceasing, unending praise and thanksgiving and worship. Now, we may do that through tears. We may do it at times when all around us seems dark, when the waves are so high that we're sick to our stomachs and we can't see over them. We can't see beyond them. We can't find our way. We're wandering around. We're at our wits' end.

We lift our eyes up to heaven into the light of His face. Up from our darkness and we say, "Oh, God, I choose to believe that You are good, that Your steadfast love endures forever. I give You thanks that I have been redeemed."

A lady wrote to us and she said,

Years back, back in the early days of Revive Our Hearts radio, I was a heap of a mess on my kitchen floor as you spoke about loving your husband. This past week, fast forward, I was once again a heap of slobbering mess. But this time it was out of pure joy, thanksgiving, adoration, worship, and praise to my heavenly Father for His unending, undeserved faithfulness, grace and mercy. The Lord has restored my family and my marriage. [And here I think this is even more important.] He has rescued me out of the slimy pit of self.

And every day let the redeemed of the Lord say so? Every day I have the glorious opportunity of speaking biblical truth into the hearts of discouraged women.

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord for he is good. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so."

You can experience fullness, freedom, and fruitfulness in Christ as long as you keep abiding in Him and letting Him have His way, letting him be God, trusting Him with what you can't understand, not demanding answers, not demanding fixes. Yes, crying out, and then trusting God to deliver in His way.

Not only does God want to turn some of the desert places where you are in His way and time into fruitful places, but for generations to come the fruit of your walk with Christ will be experienced in the lives of coming generations.

One commentator says about this conclusion here, "Although there are ups and downs in this life, the end of all things for God's people is not down, but up." Can you remember that? "We know this and we look for it because we know that God is both good and sovereign. God loves us. And because He does, He comforts us, preserves us, and brings us through even the hardest experiences in life."

What do you do when you're in trouble? Cry out to the Lord. A lot of women did that last night. But crying out to the Lord shouldn't be just something we do when an invitation's given. It's something we ought to be doing all the time. Don't stop. Keep crying out. Keep praying. Keep looking up. Cry out to the Lord.

Keep crying out and believe in His way and in His time He will rescue you. He will bring you to your desired haven.

The second question, have you been redeemed? Have you been delivered from trouble? What do you do? Two things, you give thanks. Would you do that just right now from your heart? Maybe just whisper a prayer of thanks for His redeeming love in your life, for His goodness.

And then you tell others. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." Declare it to God. Declare it to others.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth from a series called “God’s Faithfulness in Times of Trouble.”

I think we can all relate to going through times of trouble and Nancy’s helped us focus on God’s goodness in the middle of our struggles.

Nancy will also help you do that when you get a copy of her book, The Quiet Place. It’s a daily devotional with 365 entries—one for each day—and each reading will help you focus your attention on the truth of God’s Word. When you’re in the middle of a storm or a busy day, this devotional will encourage you to stay focused on what really matters.

We’d like to send you The Quiet Place as our way of saying thanks when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Ask for The Quiet Place when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

All week we’ve been exploring some of the main themes in Nancy’s teaching as we mark the fortieth anniversary of Nancy serving the Lord vocationally. Tomorrow we’ll continue, looking at the theme of biblical womanhood. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Nancy: The vast majority of Christian women have bought into this "new" way of thinking—in the home, in the church, in the marketplace. They have adopted the values and the belief system of the world around them. 

The world promises freedom and fulfillment to those who embrace its philosophy. Just look at the advertising today. What is it promising women? You can have all you want. You can be free. You can be fulfilled. Just . . . bite into this piece of fruit. Just buy into this philosophy.

But you know as well as I do, and it is so tragic to me, that millions of women have done just that. They've ended up not free and fulfilled, but they've ended up disillusioned, wounded, and in terrible bondage.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you through life’s storms. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.