Sunday, October 7
When is it wrong to trust God?
Scripture: Ezra 7-8, Luke 20
Ezra 8:21-23 I proclaimed a fast by the Ahava River, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask Him for a safe journey for us, our children, and all our possessions. 22 I did this because I was ashamed to ask the king for infantry and cavalry to protect us from enemies during the journey, since we had told him, “The hand of our God is gracious to all who seek Him, but His great anger is against all who abandon Him.” 23 So we fasted and pleaded with our God about this, and He granted our request.
Artaxerxes, king of Persia, gave the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem, rebuild the temple and begin sacrifices there. He also provided generous financial assistance and ordered local officials to support the Jews in their efforts. So Ezra the priest and a large group of Jewish leaders and exiles prepared to return to their homeland.
Carrying a large amount of cash and valuables would make them targets for robbery, so it would be reasonable to ask the king for armed protection for the journey. But Ezra was “ashamed to ask” since he had told the king that God’s hand was with them. So instead of asking the king for soldiers, Ezra declared a fast and they gathered to pray and ask God for protection.
They made it safely to Jerusalem with all the wealth intact. God protected them.
When is it wrong to trust God? Never.
But many would have accused Ezra of being proud and unreasonable. It would have been sensible and wise to ask the king for protection. But Ezra felt like God’s reputation was at stake. He had bragged about God; it would seem like nothing but hot air if he asked for protection.
How does one decide when to trust God or take reasonable action?
When I was in college, one of my friends married, and he and his wife decided not to use birth control, but to simply trust God. If God wanted them to have kids, fine; if not, fine. Another friend heard of this and mocked my friend. I responded by asking the question above: “When is it wrong to trust God?” (BTW, my friend and his wife got pregnant quickly! And they were happy about it.)
Was it wrong to use birth control? Of course not. Was it wrong for Ezra to ask for protection? Of course not.
Was it wrong for my friend or for Ezra to trust God? Of course not.
The trick is knowing when to take reasonable action, and when to trust God to care for you. And for that, we simply have to listen to the Spirit’s whisper in our own conscience.
But one thing we should all have is a great concern for God’s reputation. Ezra wanted to represent God well; we should too. He wanted people to know that God is great; God is able.
And we should be willing as the Spirit leads to take risks that give God the opportunity to take care of us in remarkable ways.
Today, as I pray, I want to listen for the Spirit’s leading—when should I take reasonable action, and when do I need to simply trust God to act on my behalf.
Prayer: Lord, speak to me—I’m listening. I’ve got some big things I believe you’ve called me to. Show me what to do—and when to simply trust You to act on my behalf.