Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Dannah Gresh: When times get difficult, do you have trouble believing that God is good? Kristen Wetherell has an antidote for that doubt.

Kristen Wetherell: The conscious act of remembering God’s faithfulness to us in the past will deepen our trust in His present goodness.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Surrender: The Heart God Controls, for March 4, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Dannah, as we think back over the past months, past year or so, these are days when fear can easily take root in our hearts. Do you see that in the women around you?

Dannah: Oh, I have friends who’ve got fear for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some of them are, you know, very concerned about their health, or their elderly parents’ health, or their children’s health. I think some of them have financial fears, worrying if the paycheck is going to run out before the month ends.

What are some fears you’re seeing, Nancy?

Nancy: I know a lot of parents are struggling with fear about their kids not being in school, or they’ve been reading about kids just missing out on a year of their education. I know that’s causing a lot of anxiety for parents.

And speaking of parents, fear of losing relationships, children wandering off from the Lord, a marriage not holding together. And then, don’t you think there’s kind of like this kind of cloud sometimes? It’s just fear of the unknown.

Dannah: Yes. Like, “What’s next week going to look like? What’s next month going to look like? What’s tomorrow going to look like?” People are feeling that.

Nancy: Yes. It takes intentionality and being proactive in the midst of fearful circumstances, storms—whether there’s storms near at hand in our homes or storms in our culture or our world. It’s hard in those times to remember to lean into the goodness and the sovereignty of God. But when it comes to facing our fears, where else do we have to turn?

Well, today Kristen Wetherell is going to help point us to the solution for our fears and doubts.

Kristen attended the Sisters in Ministry Summit that we held here at Revive Our Hearts shortly before the pandemic. It was a great chance to gather together with some younger women who have a heart for the Lord. It was a way for us to invest in this next generation of women speakers and authors, many of whom already have an established platform, but they wanted to learn and grow from each other. I don’t think I’ll ever forget hearing so many of these women beautifully share the things that God was putting on their hearts from His Word.

Dannah: It was an incredible precious time. And several of them shared messages that to this day I have notes in my journal. They spoke so deeply to me. And the one you’re going to hear today is one of them, from Kristen.

She’s a wife, a mom, an author of several books, including, Fight Your Fears. And, as we’re about to hear, just because she knows the right answers doesn’t make her immune to fear herself.

Nancy: Let’s listen together. Here’s Kristen Wetherell.

Kristen: Let’s open with a searching question: What are you most afraid of? 

Maybe you’re terrified of the things that you can’t control—accidents, sickness, losing loved ones, becoming a victim to some kind of violence.

Maybe you’re afraid of people, of what your co-worker or boss thinks of you, of that relationship that seems like it will never mend, or the impression you left upon your kids last week when you totally failed.

Maybe you’re afraid of the diagnosis you just got, the job you just lost, or what the future holds for your dying family member who does not know Jesus.

Well, most of the time—that’s important—most of the time our fears reveal who or what we are worshipping. God created human beings. He created us to fear Him, to worship Him with the reverence and awe that His glory deserves. This is what we were made for.

But we chose the way of sin. And now, our natural bent isn’t to worship God, but it’s to worship ourselves and created things. So sin distorted our worship. And the fruit of this distorted worship is fear because, sisters, when we do not fear God as we ought to, the result is that we end up fearing lesser things too much. When we do not fear God as we ought to, as He created us to fear Him, we end up fearing lesser things too much.

But praise God, there is hope as we grow in the fear of the Lord, as we learn to trust His character and His promises and worship Him. These other fears will increasingly be put in their place. And this hopeful reality is what we’ll see in our Scripture reading for today from Psalm 34, written by King David. I’ll read it for us now. We’ll be looking at verses 8–10. This is God’s Word:

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
   Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
   for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
   but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

“The Lord is good.” It sounds a lot like something that Christians like to say. Right? “God is good! God is good!”

But the question is: Do we really believe this when the rubber hits the road? When the phone rings and the news arrives? When the sickness hits? When our worst fears are realized? When bad things happen, can we still say that “God is good!”?

We have to be honest. Right? This is a challenge for us as we hold in tension—Scripture witness that God is always good and then the reality of suffering in a broken world.

The Lord has ordained various kinds of suffering for me in the first three decades of my life. And, honestly, a lot of my fears are tied to these. Years back I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. And since then, God has been very kind to bring about treatment and a lot of healing. But I’ll never forget—this is probably five years ago—sitting on our bed, crying, because I realized that I was scared all the time.

The Lyme had broken down my immune system, and therefore, lots of other parts of my body. It had left me weak. I could get hurt, injured, by the silliest, smallest things very easily. And I always wondered when the next shoe would drop. And I remember confessing this to Him and crying.

And my health has gotten better since then, but I still struggle with this fear. I’m trying to get stronger. Then that thing pops in my knee, and I’m, “Ohhh, there’s the shoe. It dropped.”

And more recently, there’s the fear of a miscarriage. My husband and I had a loss over the summer. Our first one. And while God’s presence and His people ministered to greatly to us, it hurt. It hurt.

And now that I’m pregnant again—praise God for that!—I’m greatly afraid of this. I’m so afraid of miscarriage. I dreamed about it last night—no kidding. I’m afraid of the pain and the grief that could come with it.

Sisters, you have your own sufferings. You have your own stories. You know that on the one hand, there’s this reality that we’re walking through a fallen world with affliction and pain. And then there’s this reality that Scripture testifies that God is good. And you know the tension of these two things.

Our fears tell us something important. Right? They often indicate that we’re wrestling with the reality of God’s goodness. We’re wrestling with this.

Suffering we know is a reality. We can’t really do anything about it. It’s there. But God’s goodness? That’s a lot harder to grapple with, especially when suffering comes.

When we can’t seem to reconcile a good God with bad circumstances, this can take a toll on how we trust Him, on our trust in Him.

So with all the fearful things that could happen, of all the things that have happened to us, how can we grow in trusting God? How can we grow in trusting that He is good? And then, also, how will this help us fight our fears? That’s what we’re going to look at in our passage here in Psalm 34.

King David authored this beautiful poem. It is all about God’s goodness. It’s a carefully acrostic style. David is displaying the expanse of His goodness. He’s taking us through the Hebrew alphabet. So it’s sort of an A to Z of the benevolent nature of our God.

David was certainly a blessed man who knew many gifts from God’s hand. But he was hard pressed. God ordained many grueling trials throughout David’s lifetime. And no doubt, David wrestled with God’s goodness. We see this in a lot of his psalms. But when the trials hit and the shadow of death came upon David, he relied on what he knew without a doubt to be absolutely and always true: God is good.

Don’t you want to be able to say that, to believe that? Don’t you want a sure and steady faith that God is good even when your worst fears threaten you or even come to pass?

Well, we can, by God’s grace, fight our fears. And we do this by growing in the fear of the Lord and our trust of God’s goodness. And David shows us how in three ways in this psalm.

First, fight your fears with praise. Fight your fears with praise.

Well, at this point, in David’s story, he’s an exhausted and distressed young man who’s been running away from the sitting king of Israel, King Saul. And Saul has been seeking to kill David because God has now anointed David king.

I’m trying to put myself in David’s shows. Can you imagine being hunted? Like, you’re not an animal, but being hunted, and you have no sure place to lay your head. So you’re resorting to caves. And you don’t know, really, who your friends are and who your enemies are. That’s a fearful place to be. That’s terrifying.

Yet, in all of this, David’s psalm begins at a very unlikely place. In the middle of his circumstances, he chooses to praise God.

Back up to verse 1, he says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

So David has God’s goodness in mind here, His benevolent heart that informs all He is and motivates all that He does. God’s goodness is what runs behind and beneath His love and justice, His mercy and grace, His forgiveness and His faithfulness, His patience and kindness—the list goes on and on.

And what a contrast God’s character is to that of His creatures. (We really see that here.) So David knows of God’s goodness, and he also knows that there is power in praising this goodness, just as there is power in fear.

In choosing to praise God for what he knows to be true of His character, David is overwhelming his fears with truth. Rather than following his heart with all of its feelings and fears, David is leading his heart by faith. He practices praise with his lips, which promotes a posture of praise within his heart.

And when we’re afraid, we can do the same thing. We can lead our hearts by faith into the truth. We act upon the very definition of faith, which is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. We can praise God with our mouths even when our minds and hearts are wrestling with His goodness. We walk by faith and not by sight.

Pastor John Piper has a wonderful way of putting this truth. He says, “Thanksgiving with the mouth stirs up thankfulness in the heart.”

And David knows this, so he practices praise with his lips, which promotes that posture of praise within his heart. And we can do the same, sisters, especially in times when we are tempted to doubt the goodness of God. Praise is a powerful and very needed weapon to fight our fears.

So first we fight fears with praise. And next, we fight fear with remembrance—with remembrance.

In this psalm in particular, David is reflecting on a recent dilemma in which he found himself trapped by an enemy, and he pretended to be insane to escape from his trap—kind of clever on his part. And he recounts God’s goodness to rescue him. He says in verses 6 to 7:

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
   and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
   around those who fear him, and delivers them.

The conscious act of remembering God’s faithfulness to us in the past will deepen our trust in His present goodness.

Charles Spurgeon says here—I love this!—“David is marking His mercies with a well-carved memorial.”

Scripture is full of memorials of its own as God commands His people to remember His works and His faithfulness. Why? Because God knows that we are forgetful. And He knows that remembrance will strengthen our faith in Him and, ultimately, that it will help us fight our fears.

David gives us an example here. If you’re wrestling with fear today, sisters, think about God’s faithfulness to you. 

  • Consider your testimony, how He rescued you from sin by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s a miracle of His faithfulness.
  • Then think about what prayers God has answered in your past.
  • Think about what troubles He has saved you from, how He has used those troubles to grow you and change you and make you more like Himself.
  • And what fears He has helped you overcome, even if by degrees. How have You seen Him at work in your heart? 

Remember God’s faithfulness and mark His mercies as a means to fight your fears.

So fight your fears with praise and then with remembrance. And also fight your fears with eternal perspective—eternal perspective.

David brings this poem to a climax with an exhortation to God’s people—and this is our focus verses for today. I’ll read it again for us:

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
   Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
   for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
   but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

When we’re wrestling with God’s goodness, it’s often because He’s changed or taken or withheld something that we think we need or that we think we deserved. I want to be really sensitive here because many of you have known incredible losses, things I can’t even imagine—your worst fears realized. And there is so much pain that comes with that.

What I love about God’s Word is that it’s true, and it endures forever. It says here that in any degree of our sufferings, those who fear the Lord lack nothing. Those who fear the Lord have every good thing. How can that be? That’s what we wonder. Right? How can that be?

I’d love for us to look now through David’s words to Romans 8, and the fulfillment of them in Jesus Christ.

First, we can trust God’s goodness in our sanctification.

Romans 8:28 is a common verse, sometimes poorly cited when bad things happen. But it’s a wonderful verse, a wonderful promise.

Paul says, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Paul who wrote Romans isn’t saying that all of our circumstances will necessarily work themselves out, but that God will be at work within us in each of our circumstances. This is sanctification—God at work in us, making us more like Him.

And the sanctifying work He’s doing is good because He’s making us more like Him. He’s conforming us to the image of Jesus. Verse 29 in Romans 8:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son

This is very good, sisters. “Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing”—including becoming holy as Jesus is holy.

Second, we can trust God’s goodness in His spiritual blessings. Romans 8:32 says:

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

And, again, all things doesn’t necessarily mean earthly benefits. God is really kind to us, and He gives us many good gifts to enjoy and celebrate. A lot of this is His common grace. This promise, however, goes beyond that, far beyond.

One aspect of spiritual blessing that has helped me fight fear is the gift of God’s grace. Grace refers to God’s undeserved favor toward sinners—undeserved favor toward sinners. And it includes all the blessing this favor entails—what Scripture calls in Ephesians 1:7, “The riches of His grace.”

Christian, God has graciously given you all of these things in Jesus: strength and power, hope, righteousness, peace, provision, sufficiency, wisdom, truth, comfort, love, and hope. And you may not feel all these blessings all the time, but rest assured they are yours in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and all its riches through Christ sustains and strengthens us in the fight of faith just as manna sustained and strengthened the Israelites in the wilderness. God gave them a day’s portion every day, Scripture says—just the amount that they needed. And God promises to give what you need today.

Fear often comes when we envision the future apart from future grace. But our trust in God’s goodness will grow as we focus on His grace toward us right now, His present grace in Jesus Christ and leaving the future in His hands.

“Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing,” including every spiritual blessing.

And, finally, we can trust God’s goodness because He gave us Jesus. We can trust God’s goodness because He gave us His Son.

Friends, God is holy, holy, holy. He’s worthy of our reverence and our awe. He made us to worship and fear Him, which is best for us. But we chose our own way, and we rebelled against Him. And now, what our sin rightly deserves is God’s judgment, an eternity spent under His wrath. We can’t be near a holy God. We deserve to taste death.

But, astonishingly, what does God offer to us instead? We can look back at Psalm 34 to get our answer, and this is verse 22:

The Lord redeems the life of his servants;none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

God offers us a redeemer in His Son Jesus Christ. He offers us a refuge from the condemnation our sin deserves. So think about it. Think about the gospel. Jesus is the redeemer and the refuge we need because He fears His Father fully, and He worshipped Him wholly, and He obeyed Him perfectly. He was goodness in our place.

And Jesus is the redeemer and the refuge we need because He tasted His Father’s wrath, the wrath that we deserve, so that we would never taste it ourselves. So that our earthly death would only lead us into eternal life.

Jesus is God’s greatest good. Have you tasted and seen Him?

Have you taken refuge in Him as your redeemer, trusting Him to rescue you from the power and penalty of sin and cover you in His goodness?

And have you taken refuge in Him where fear is concerned? Have you tasted and seen that no matter what happens in this life no matter what is lost, no matter what God gives or what God takes away, that Jesus is the greatest gift, that nothing can take away Jesus from you because God gave Him to you?

The real question is, sisters, Is Jesus better to you than anything else? Is He truly your greatest good? “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” May it be so for us.

Let’s pray. Good and gracious Father, You are always good. Please open our eyes to see this. Please open our eyes to see this evident in the giving of Your Son for our salvation. And please help us to see all that comes to pass through your hands in light of this ultimate act of Your goodness.

Oh God, please forgive us when we haven’t had this eternal perspective, when we’ve thought You could be unkind, even cruel, when we’ve not trusted You. Give us grace to “taste and see” that You are good.

We want to take refuge in Jesus, even if the worst storms come our way. Help us, Father, to push back fear by trusting in Your goodness and your all-sufficient grace more and more. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Nancy: Amen. In the face of all the things we could possibly fear, we can anchor our souls to the goodness, the sovereignty, the faithfulness of God. What a helpful perspective from Kristen Wetherell, speaking at a Revive Our Hearts’ event in the fall of 2019.

We’re bringing her message as part of our emphasis this month on finding biblical answers to our doubts and questions.

Dannah: And, Nancy, I have a happy update. Kristen mentioned her pregnancy and fears related to her baby. Well, I’m happy to report John Charles was safely brought into this world in May of 2020, and what an adorable little guy he is!

Nancy: Yes, thank You, Lord! What a gift!

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: Kristen is a part of a group of women that I like to refer to as Sisters in Ministry. I was thinking just last night how grateful I am for some of these younger women that God is raising up who love Jesus. They love His Word. They’re gifted at communicating biblical truth. And as a ministry, we want to do all we can to invest in these women and to encourage them and help them serve the Lord even more effectively.

Well, we can’t do things like that, and we can’t do things like bringing this program to you day after day without the faithful support of our Monthly Partner Team. Now, you might be wondering, What’s the Monthly Partner Team? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Members of our Monthly Partner Team are the life blood, the backbone to this ministry. They see God at work in their own lives and the lives of others around them through Revive Our Hearts. And they believe in our mission of helping women experience freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ. And they want to share this ministry with others. So they pray for Revive Our Hearts. And they support the ministry faithfully each month.

If you’re part of our Monthly Partner Team, let me just say to you how deeply grateful I am for your investment in this ministry. Not until heaven will you see all the fruit of that investment.

Dannah: I’m having a really sweet thought right now. My heart is just flowing with gratitude because it was about fifteen years ago when you and I first met. I was about the age of some of these next-generation leaders that we’re trying to really platform. You saw me. You invested in me.

And many times Bob, my husband, and I had a conversation about the fact that every Monthly Partner that was investing in Revive Our Hearts, without knowing it, was investing in True Girl, my ministry, because of the way you were mentoring me and discipling me.

And it’s so exciting for me think: Where will these women, women like Kristen, be in fifteen years because of the investment of these wonderful Partners?

Nancy: Wow, Dannah! I love that! It gives me goose bumps just thinking about this precious process of passing on the baton. You’ve done that so beautifully, and now you’re doing it as you’re pouring into the lives of moms and teens and little girls.

So if you’re already a part of our Monthly Partner Team, I hope that’s encouraging to you. And if you’re not, let me encourage you to consider joining that Monthly Partner Team. And when you do that during the month of March, we want to say, “Thank you for your support,” by sending you a special Welcome Collection.

That collection includes a new booklet available only from Revive Our Hearts called, Glad You Asked: Answers to Ten Essential Questions. One of the questions this booklet will address is related to what Kristen was talking about today. It says, “If God loves me, why am I suffering?”

So when you become a part of our Monthly Partner Team, you’ll receive that booklet along with other items in our Welcome Collection. I hope you’ll consider joining our Monthly Partner Team.

Dannah: Again, the Glad You Asked booklet is one way we’d like to thank you for becoming a member of our Monthly Partner Team. You can do that by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or, as always, we love to hear from you when you call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Nancy: And, Dannah, I just heard we’re asking the Lord to raise up over 300 new Monthly Partners this month. And also that some who are currently Monthly Partners would feel prompted by the Lord to increase their monthly giving. So you can join us in praying for that.

Well, Kristen mentioned bringing all our fears to God. But how do we practically do that? It’s something we’ll be talking about tomorrow with Kristen and others of the Sisters in Ministry. I hope you’ll be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to trust in the goodness of God. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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