Confidence in God
Have no anxiety about anything.
After church on a recent Sunday, we were outside talking when a woman approached us. She was obviously in distress. We recognized her and were acquainted with her from seeing her around church services and events. “Please pray for me,” she exclaimed in tears.
As the story spilled out, it turns out that she is embroiled in litigation with her next door neighbors. Although it was not clear to me (even as an attorney) what exactly the claims are in the lawsuit, it did become clear that the catalyst for the lawsuit was her refusal to remove a pro-life sign from her front yard. “I will never remove it,” she said.
It does sound like the neighbors have accused her of being a monster, which is almost humorous if you knew her—she is a very prayerful and quiet woman. She would not hurt a mouse. But having had to hire an attorney and defend the case, she is terrified of “losing everything.” The stress is consuming her. We tried to give her words of encouragement and told her we would pray for her.
I have found myself reflecting on her situation and want to share with you one thing that I have come to understand more deeply.
When we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we need to make sure that we bring it to God in prayer. We need discernment.1 In our friend’s situation above, she insisted very strongly that she would never remove her pro-life sign from her yard. When we make a firm statement like that, we want to be sure that we have discerned it in prayer.
Does God want me to take a stand on this issue?
Am I supposed to witness this way? Or, does God want me to back down?
Am I being principled, or am I being stubborn?
I do not know the answer to the question for her (or for your difficult situation). What I am saying is that we need to be humble and take the question to prayer. We need to ask, “Lord Jesus, what do you want me to do?” It may take some time to get the answer and discernment. Once we have discernment, then we should have inner peace.
If you have inner peace and believe that the Lord has given you direction, then you should move forward with confidence and faith. For example, if the Lord wants you to keep the pro-life sign up in your yard, then you should have peace with what follows. You should stand your ground. Litigation is stressful—as a trial lawyer I know that all too well. But one can still have inner peace, knowing that this is what God wanted you to do. Is He not able to defend you in litigation? If He has asked you to take a stand for Him, do you think He will abandon you? No! God is faithful. Have confidence in God.
On the other hand, we need to be humble enough to accept God’s plan. Maybe He did not want you to keep the pro-life sign up in your yard. It is possible that reconciliation with your neighbor is more important in your particular situation. Only God knows—and the only way you will know the answer is to pray.
Regardless of how difficult the situation is, God does not want you to be fearful and anxious. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preached that we should not be people of anxiety:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well."2
Seek first His kingdom—ask God in prayer for wisdom and discernment. Then, trust in God and move forward with inner peace. He does not want you to be afraid!
“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."3
Here is the beautiful thing about this approach. If you love God and humble yourself asking Him to lead you, even if you “make a mistake” He will take care of it.
"We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him."4
Please say a little prayer for our church friend who is suffering in this lawsuit. She is a gentle soul. I will say a prayer for you in turn, that God will bless you.
May the Holy Spirit give you light on the issue you are discerning, and may you find the peace of God in your situation in the Name of Jesus. Amen.
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Whole volumes have been written on the whole concept of discernment. The simple truth is that we believe that God will guide us if we pray.