Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Truth About God by Mary Kassian

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Dannah Gresh: When the storms of life hit, do you ever feel like God doesn’t care? Well, just like Jesus’ disciples in that sinking boat, we can sometimes wonder. Here’s Mary Kassian.

Mary Kassian: We may believe that God is big enough, but we question whether He is interested enough in us, whether He loves us enough to help. Oh, He’s interested in the pastor or the missionaries or our friend down the street. But . . . Is He really interested in me? 

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for Friday, March 13, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

I think we've all had experiences where we feel out of control, like we are drowning in our circumstance. We know that panicky, out-of-control feeling and what it does to our minds, even our bodies. Nancy, in a minute I’m going to ask you about a time you felt that, but first let me tell you about me. True confession time.

When I feel that way is any time anybody asks me to change my schedule. I don't know why, but that just creates that whole "I can't do it" overwhelmed feeling. My husband is probably the one who is most mindful of this problem that I have. 

Nancy: I'm sitting here listening to you, and I don't think I realized this about you. I'm thinking, How many times have I caused that panicky feeling by texting or emailing you and saying, "Dannah, can we talk about this more."

Dannah: Once we did it at 3:00 in the morning.

Nancy: Oh, yes. You've reminded me of that time.

Dannah: You know, it's an opportunity, it's become an opportunity, after all these years. It's not that I don't feel that sensation that I don't like. But now, I choose to remind myself that God is in control and He's not surprised by this change in my schedule. So I do react differently, even though I continue to feel that feeling at first.

Nancy: Those panic producers—I think they are different things for different people. For me it's feeling like there are way more tasks on my to-do list, way more deadlines than I can possibly meet in the time I have allotted. I can just start to feel claustrophobic when things are pressing. We call them screaming babies at our house. They are not literal, but I can sometimes react out of panic and fear and feeling overwhelmed rather than looking up to the Lord and asking Him to control my emotions and give me the grace I need in that minute to do the next thing.

Dannah: Well, we are all about to get a little bit of help with the moments because we are going to hear from our friend Mary Kassian as she talks to us about what you referred to a moment ago as “panic producers.”

Nancy: Mary has been a good friend of ours for years. She's a wife, a mom, a grandmom. She writes; she speaks. She has a lot of abilities. I think one thing I'd say about Mary is you get this impression when you are around her that she's learned to respond to those panicky, stormy moments of her life with amazing peace and grace. Would you say that about Mary?

Dannah: Absolutely. She exudes calm. She's an anchor for me many times.

Nancy: I think that's something she has grown in, as we all have to. She's grown as she has come to know the character of God and the truth of His Word. I remember at our last True Woman conference how Mary exposed some of the lies we can easily believe about God, and even better, she gave us the truth that replaces those lies.

Dannah: If you’re listening somewhere where you can open a Bible or look at a Bible app on your phone, you might turn to the Gospel of Mark, chapter four. Here’s Mary Kassian, at True Woman, speaking to a room of nearly 7,000 women.

Mary: How many of you were ever in Girl Guides, or any kind of club where you had to win or earn merit badges? I was in Pioneer Girls, and there were all sorts of merit badges to earn. You could earn everything from sewing and baking to art, sports, citizenship, and I remember going out to a camp to earn my orienteering badge. We went out to the wilderness with a group of girls.

Now, orienteering is about using a map and a compass to find your way, especially through unfamiliar territory. Now, the needle of a compass always points north. You may not know that if you weren’t in orienteering. (laughter) Orienteering teaches you to orient yourself to this reliable indicator. It enables you to stay on course and make it to your destination.

There were a few things that I learned while orienteering. First was how easy it was to get thrown off course when you’re in a forest and having to go around trees and through culverts and scrambling over rocks.

And the second thing I learned was how important it was to check my compass often to make sure I was going in the right direction. The slightest deviation, even by just a few degrees, would take me off course, and I would miss going where I needed to go.

Truth is like the needle of a compass. God has given us the Word of God. The night before Jesus was crucified, He prayed, “Father, sanctify them. Make them holy by the truth. Your Word is truth.” (see John 17:17)

Now, the reason humanity fell was that Eve entertained the suggestion that God wasn’t truth, that His Word wasn’t truth. Satan suggested that God wasn’t being entirely truthful in what He told Eve and that He wasn’t as great or as loving or as good as He made Himself out to be.

Satan’s conniving, smooth talk caused just the slightest of shifts in what Eve believed about God. It nudged her heart and her mind just a few degrees away from truth, but that shift had enormous consequences.

Wrong thinking about God causes us to have wrong thinking about everything else.

Ever since that fateful day in Eden, people have had a really hard time believing truth, and our sin nature gives us a bent toward believing lies. And underlying all the lies are lies about the nature and the character of God. Wrong thinking about God causes us to have wrong thinking about everything else.

It’s so easy to get thrown off course when we’re moving through life around the trees and over the rocks that we encounter in life. That’s why we always need to check and orient—correct our bearing, reorient our hearts to truth.

You need your heart realigned to the truth about God, and so do I, and so did the disciples in the boat that stormy night who, in fear and panic, screamed at Jesus, “Don’t You care that we’re drowning?”

The disciples had known Jesus for a while, but their response during that storm revealed that they did not really grasp who Jesus was. Their thinking was off. They needed it brought back into line with truth.

I’m going to read the story of that stormy night from the gospel of Mark, chapter 4, beginning at verse 35:

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat . . . A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.

The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and asked each other, “Who is this?” (vv. 35–41 NIV).

Storms of life have a way of revealing what we really believe about God, don’t they? The disciples had some faulty beliefs about Jesus that needed to be corrected—subtle lies that were in their thinking that needed to be brought back into line. It was what caused them to experience panic instead of peace in the middle of the storm.

Their first panic producer was the lie that God wasn’t big enough. “God is not big enough,” is what they thought.

You see, in this passage, the disciples experienced two types of fear. The first type was an apprehensive type of fear. They were afraid that the storm was going to overwhelm them and that they were going to drown.

Now, it must have been quite the storm to frighten them. After all, these guys were seasoned fishermen. They were accustomed to conditions on that sea. But when this storm hit, even those seasoned mariners panicked, and they were filled with fear.

What’s interesting is what we read further on in the passage. The storm hit, and then they were afraid. But then Jesus calmed the storm, and the sea became perfectly still. And what was their response? They were terrified. They were more afraid of the power that Christ demonstrated than they had been of the storm.

Verse 41 says, “They feared exceedingly.” That’s the second kind of fear: reverential fear. Fear of God.

Now, what is fear? Basically, fear is seeing yourself as very small and something else as very big.

Apprehensive fear is the negative emotion. We’re fearful because we’re facing circumstances that are bigger and more powerful than we are—something out of our control. I look at the circumstances, and I’m afraid because I recognize that this situation is bigger than me, it could hurt me, and it probably will.

And whether my storm has to do with fractured relationships, my marriage, my children, my family, my friends, or health or finances or pressures at work or loss—whatever it is—I realize that:

  • I am not big enough to handle it.
  • I don’t have the resources.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • I don’t have the ability.
  • I don’t have the capacity to calm it.

I’ve tried and tried. This storm is out of my control, and it’s overwhelming me.

Apprehensive fear produces panic and anxiety.

Reverential fear is quite different. Reverential fear is the positive emotion. We revere Christ because we know that He is bigger and more powerful than us and bigger and more powerful than any circumstance that we might face.

The disciples feared their circumstance more than they feared Christ. They saw their circumstance as bigger than Him. The lie that they believed was that God isn’t big enough.

Have you ever thought that? Have you ever looked at your circumstances and thought, This one is too big even for God. He can’t bring love back into this marriage. He can’t change this person’s heart. He can’t bring back this wayward child. He can’t cure this illness. He can’t restore unity to this church. He can’t resolve this crisis. He can’t fill this loneliness. He can’t satisfy this desire. He’s just not big enough.

Now, maybe you wouldn’t say so—not in so many words—but your anxiety and your lack of peace indicate that that’s what you truly believe.

The disciples in the boat on that stormy night thought, Christ can’t do anything about this storm. These circumstances are out of His control. But then Jesus got up and showed them that even the wildest, most ferocious storm is not out of His control.

When they saw His power and His glory, they were terrified. And they fell on their faces and asked each other, “Who is this? We had no idea He had so much power.”

Their second panic producer was the lie that God wasn’t interested enough.

The waves were breaking over the boat so severely that it was nearly swamped, and they were in great danger, and the disciples were undoubtedly doing some pretty serious bailing. Peter, John, Matthew, James, and the boys were scooping water out of the boat with anything they could find—buckets, boots, plates. Anything that could scoop was scooping.

At first they trusted their own capacity to keep the boat from going under. They were fishermen, after all. They knew what they were doing. They knew how to respond. And I can hear Peter shouting orders, “Bail! Bail! All hands on deck! Mark, this side! James, that side! Over here!”

And there was all sorts of commotion going on. And during the whole crisis, Jesus remained asleep in the stern of the boat.

Now, how do you feel when you’re in crisis, and someone who supposedly loves you and is in the situation with you, remains oblivious to your predicament?

When I was in the dire pain of labor, giving birth to my first son—before the days of Epidural . . . yes, it is possible. (laughter) My husband sat in the chair next to me reading the sports section of The Journal and munching on a bagel. (laughter)

I know how I felt. I tore the paper from his hands and screamed at him, “I expect you to suffer, too!” (laughter) I was angry that I was suffering, and he didn’t care!

The disciples weren’t happy that Jesus was sleeping and not helping them bail. They demanded, “Don’t You care? Don’t You care if we drown? Don’t You see we’re in crisis? We are going under! Why are You sleeping?! Why aren’t You helping us?!”

They didn’t think that Jesus was interested enough. How often do we think the same thing? We may believe that God is big enough, but we question whether He is interested enough in us, whether He loves us enough to help. Oh, He’s interested in the pastor or the missionaries or our friends down the street, but is He really interested in me? we wonder.

The disciples’ third panic producer was the lie that God isn’t good enough.

Now, they had certain expectations of what they wanted Jesus to do. Maybe they wanted Him to come and help bail the water, certainly. But perhaps they expected Him to multiple the buckets just like He multiplied the loaves and the fishes, or maybe to steady the boat so they could make it to shore.

Whenever we expect God to comply with our agenda, whenever we expect that He will do what we want, when we want, and how we want it, our expectation is misplaced. And, consequently, we experience disappointment and disillusionment and despair when God doesn’t come through the way that we want, and we begin to question His goodness.

“I know that He’s big enough. And He tells me that He’s interested enough, so I guess He’s just not good enough. He likes seeing me suffer. He withholds from me what is in His power to give. Why? Why?” Have you ever asked that question?

A close friend of ours named Rusty was diagnosed with cancer. He had a tumor the size of a large sausage behind his stomach, and the cancer began to spread to his lymph nodes. The prognosis was very poor.

We began to pray and throw ourselves on the mercy of God, asking Him to heal our friend. And God did. Rusty has been healthy and cancer free for more than fifteen years. God miraculously healed him.

We had another friend who was diagnosed with the exact same kind of stomach cancer, and we began to pray and throw ourselves on the mercy of God, knowing full well that God could heal. We wanted our friend Johnny to be healed just as Rusty was, but the cancer got worse. His stomach ballooned to an enormous size. His face and his limbs wasted away. He went through excruciating, excruciating pain and suffering. In the end, God did heal Johnny, but not in the way we expected. Johnny went to be with the Lord. He left behind a wife, two sons, and a young daughter.

So often we want to control God, but His ways are beyond ours. We don’t always understand them. But be assured that, though He may not always do what we ask of Him, He is good. He is good.

Many of you have storms raging in your lives today. You’ve come into this place, and there are all sorts of things going on in your life and your heart, in your spirit—sickness, divorce, prodigal children, addictions, financial crisis, struggles, heartaches, betrayal, loss. You’re just so tired of the storm. But whatever the storm is, Jesus wants to reorient your heart in this moment to the truth about God and to bring you peace.

Here’s truth:

  • God is enough.
  • He will provide all that you need.
  • He is bigger than any storm that you will ever face.
  • God is love.
  • He is interested in you, and He loves you with a perfect love.

God is good, so very good.

So hold on. Hold on. Hold on to the truth about the Savior who is in your boat, even during the storm—especially during the storm. That is when it is critical that you take the truth of the Word of God and reorient your heart and not go off in a direction toward lies.

Our God is good enough. Our God is interested enough. And our God is powerful enough to bring peace to your storm and to get you to the other side.

Nancy: No matter how strongly the wind is blowing or how high the waves may be, it’s comforting to remember that God not only can save us, but He cares about us. He always acts in the best interests of His children! Mary Kassian has been helping us learn the same lessons the disciples learned that stormy day on the Sea of Galilee.

Dannah: Okay, so Nancy, help us apply what we know to be true, to the way we’re living? There really are times we feel completely overwhelmed, we’re panicky. And I think most in our audience would agree with everything Mary just said—I know God is able. I know He cares, and I know He’s good. But I still don't feel like it. Can you give us some practical insights about how to fight against fear?

Nancy: I'd love for us to interact on that for a minute here. Mary mentioned some of the lies that we believe: God isn't big enough or strong enough. God isn't interested enough. God isn't good. I think that is at the heart of why we get fearful and overwhelmed, because we are believing things that aren't true.

In my life, I've found it is so important to acknowledge what am I believing that's not true, and what is the truth that replaces those lies, and to learn to counsel my heart according to the truth. Which is why I think, Dannah, that it is so important for us to live in the Word of God.

I've got this new habit of listening to the Scripture being read aloud while I'm getting ready—not every day, but many days in the morning. I just want it to wash over me. Someone asked me yesterday when I told them this, "Doesn't your mind wander?" Yes, it does sometimes. But I think the Word washing over me, reminding me of what is true, is like it reins in those rogue emotions and stabilizes me and anchors me in truth. That's when the peace of God comes and fills my heart.

Dannah: One of the things that I've been pondering lately is that the Bible says if you abide in my Word, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Somebody when I quoted that verse recently said, "That's such a big Christian-ese word. Can you just say, 'When you read the Word'?" I was, "No, it's more than that." To say you read the Word, even the demons believed and shuttered. But they didn't agree with, they didn't live in, they didn't abide in the Word.

So what you are describing to me just now, that sounds like abiding. And part of abiding is obeying. So sometimes, I have to, whatever the Lord is counseling my heart with, I just have to stand up and do it. Whatever that is. In doing so, I walk into agreement with it, and the peace begins to flood my heart.

Nancy: I think that's what you hear in Philippians 4: "Don't worry about anything, instead pray about everything." If you do this, make your requests known to God with thanksgiving, and thankgiving demonstrates faith that what God says is true, even when it doesn't feel like it is. Then the apostle Paul says that if you do this the peace of God will garrison your heart, it will safeguard your heart, it will protect you from your own heart and those crazy, wild, panicked emotions.

It doesn't mean that frightening things don't happen to us. It doesn't mean we don't end up in storms. The Old Testament tells us that God raises up the storm; He raises up the wind and the waves. But in the midst of that storm, He can give our hearts peace and calm as we are anchored in, dwelling in His Word, His truth.

Actually, that was a lot of the thought I had behind one of the first books I ever wrote, Lies Women Believe: And the Truth That Sets Them Free. And the point of the book. You've helped me to write Lies Young Women Believe; you've now written Lies Girls Believe: And the Truth That Sets Them Free. That's the whole point in that series of books. We have to get people to not only identify what the lies are, but to anchor their hearts in the truth.

Dannah: That whole opportunity to anchor our hearts in truth really exists for the storms, not the calm days of our lives. It's easy to have faith and say we believe in God when everything is going smoothly. It's much harder when we feel like the waves are up to our necks. Recently, I was thinking about that and how Jesus said, "Where's your faith?" In the story He says, "Where's your faith?" It's almost like, "Where are your life jackets? Wouldn't that be helpful in this situation?"

It's not that we don't have it. He knows that we have it. It's like, "Why don't you put it on? Put your life jacket on. Your faith is your is your life jacket." Don't react to the fear without that life jacket of faith.

Nancy: So as those terrifying thoughts, as those overwhelming fears, those panic producers come into our lives, it's about intentionally, consciously replacing the lies, putting on the truth and consciously remembering that Jesus is in that boat with us. Remembering that God is big enough; God is strong enough; God is interested enough, and God is good. That's the truth that is going to set me free in those circumstances.

Dannah: Well, thanks, Nancy, that’s helpful. And thanks to Mary Kassian, as well. Such good reminders about the goodness and power of Jesus!

We’re able to bring you solid teaching like this because of generous support from listeners like you. And I want to take a moment to thank a special group of supporters: our Monthly Partner Team. Monthly Partners promise to pray for us regularly. They spread the word about Revive Our Hearts to those around them. And they commit to give a regular amount each month. This is a huge help to us, because it serves to smooth out the ebbs and flows of donations. So thank you, Monthly Partner Team! Woo-hoo! You’re our heroes.

And I want to remind you that you are entitled to a free registration for True Woman '20, along with a lot of other really neat gifts that we send you throughout the year. And if you’ve been listening to Revive Our Hearts for a while and you’re ready to step up and become a Monthly Partner, come on board! There’s a welcome pack we’d love to send you. For all the details, visit our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Could I ask you to please pray for the Spanish True Woman conference kicking off tonight in Monterrey, Mexico. It’s sold out locally, but thousands will be joining online, as well. Ask God to speak to us through His Word, in the power of the Spirit.

Can being generous bring you joy? Our guests on Monday would answer with a resounding, “Yes!” I’m Dannah Gresh, hoping you’ll be back next week for Revive Our Hearts.

Reminding you that Jesus is in your boat, Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.