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About this series
Finding God When You Need Him Most
In Finding God When You Need Him Most, Chip Ingram reveals how you can meet God in the midst of your most difficult moments. Through Chip's teaching from some of the most comforting and encouraging Psalms, you will move from "knowing about God" to profoundly experiencing His presence and power in your life. Whether you're struggling with a rocky relationship, an unexpected crisis, depression, or injustice, this series will remind you that the Lord is faithful to hear your heart's cry and will be there for you, time and again.More from this series
What did Job do? I mean, this is Job’s whole life. Job does what’s right: Negative, negative, negative. So, he does more of what’s right: Negative, negative, negative.
And, you know, the book of Job is saying, “Hey, God! What is the deal? I’m up to here with this!” And when God finally reproves Job, does He ever reprove him for being angry and sharing his heart? Answer: No. He only reproves him for his arrogance, of defending himself.
I was as angry with God as I’ve ever been in my life and in response, God could not have manifested Himself in my dorm room in a physical appearance and spoken actual words and spoken more clearly than Psalm 73.
What I’m trying to tell you is: pour out your heart, get it out there, share it. Verses 2 through 14 we have one of the most godly men in all of Israel telling it like it is to God, venting his emotions with at least a significant amount of reverence but he puts it out there. Have you ever done that? Or are you holding it in? You think it’s more “godly” to hold it in.
Now, by the way, don’t go pour it out to everyone else, pour it out to God. Tell Him. Let Him be your counselor.
A lady last night, neat lady, she came up after the Saturday night service and we gave people some time to respond and to pray and she said, “This was one of the greatest nights of my life.” She had a horrendous, you talk about unjust life, raw deal, a horrendous childhood. And her mother did and said things to her that no human being should ever do to any other human being.
And she’s a mature Christian and she knows what’s right and she knows that it is God’s will to forgive her mother and she has never done it. And last night, after the service, she said, “I did it. I have never felt so – I feel like the world is finally off my shoulders, I finally got it, I poured out my heart, and I let it go. And I forgave my mom tonight.” And she was beaming.
That’s principle number one if you want to overcome, if you want to experience God in the midst of your raw deal.
Principle number two, life lesson number two is: Consider carefully your choices. When you get angry, when people do you in, I don’t know about you, but injustice, it’s like, everybody has a button. It’s one of mine. There are certain things I can endure and say, “Yeah, it’s a fallen world and we’ll work through it.” Injustice just makes me nuts!
And it makes me nuts when it happens anywhere but it makes me absolutely crazy when it happens to me! And so, I am tempted to do very stupid things when I get a raw deal, to say things, and to act in ways that will really, really be harmful to me and to others.
I was ready to quit the whole Christian life because my girlfriend walks out the door with another guy? Think that one through a little bit. “Yeah, ruin your whole life because of a twenty-year-old girl that you’ve known for two years, yeah, don’t go there, Chip.”
Asaph realized his quitting would do – what? Did you notice? Look at verse 15. He said, “If I would have spoken thus I would have betrayed Your children.” And I remember that night. I remember I was meeting with six guys in a Bible study, I had the privilege of leading about four or five of those guys to Christ. And as I sat there, what I realized, “If I jump out of the Christian faith, if I quit because of this, what do I tell them?”
And then I thought of the closest friends I’ve ever had, the most vulnerable, open, loving relationships I’ve ever had was with God’s people and if I jump out of the Christian life, I lose all that.
And all of a sudden, I realized, “Wait a second.” See, consider your choices carefully. When tempted to throw in the towel, we must weigh the impact it will have on others. When you get a raw deal, you can react and, boy, you can burn some bridges and hurt a lot of people.
One elder really had some great wisdom about making wise choices. He said, “You know, I was involved in business and we had six partners. And I was the principal partner, I owned thirty percent of the business.”
And he said, “Everything came to a standstill, cash flow came to a halt.” And he said, “I was the only one with the resources, I had a considerable amount of equity in my house. I pulled out all the equity of my house and got a loan based on that as well to float the business. And we all made a business agreement, signed, legal document, that, should this thing go in the tank, we would share, I was going to underwrite the business, but we would share the loss.”
He said, “Well, it went in the tank.” And he said, “It was like watching rats run off of a ship.” Tchoo, they’re gone. He said, “I lost the business, I lost my home, I lost everything that I owned. Everything.”
And then he said, “You know, I had to work through…” and he said, “I had walked with the Lord for some time and,” in fact, he was an elder in a church at the time, another church, another location many years ago. And he said, “I worked through the part where my goal wasn’t vengeance. And I had to make wise choices.”
And then here was the balance. He said, “I had one Christian partner and I had five non-Christian partners. The one Christian partner, on a handshake we agreed, that we would do what God wanted us to do, that we would model, that we would not fight, that we would assume losses together and whatever God would bring back we would assume gains together.”
And he said, “Then, under control, not out of malice, as I’ve worked it through in my heart, then, at the same time, while submitting to and saying, ‘God is sovereign and God is good and this is what has happened,’” he said, “I pursued justice through the legal system.”
And he ended up going to court with all five of those, won a judgment, and got sixty-five cents on the dollar.
See, here is what I want you to hear carefully. Two extremes happen. The extremes, when you get injustice, is to bury it or go irrational or to think, “Okay, God is sovereign, I’m a doormat. I guess life really stinks and God will make…” There are times when you’ve been abused, when you’ve been lied to, when you’ve been cheated – under control, not out of malice – to pursue justice is a very right course to bring about righteousness in the world. Do you get that?
So, the first step is what? Pour out your heart. Second step: really think through, carefully, your response. Third step is: Get the big picture. Verse 17 it says, “When he entered the sanctuary of the Lord,” bang! “then he understood their end.” He worshipped. He got an eternal perspective.
When we see life through an eternal perspective, we then begin to realize what’s important and what’s not. That happens when you meet with God. See, Asaph’s whole world turned around, my whole world turned around because I went back to my dorm room and I opened my Bible and I said, “God, speak to me! Speak to me! I’m mad, I’m hurt, it’s not fair. Speak to me!” And He did. And He’ll speak to you.
Verse 17, he enters the sanctuary. Notice then he gets eternal perspective. Verse 18 to 20 he says, “You know, in the final analysis, the wicked don’t prosper.” And then verse 21 he says, 22 he says, “Wait a second. I was thinking irrationally. I was depressed. I was into self-pity.”
And then he looks back and he gets the big picture, he says, “Wait a second. Big picture, whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I don’t desire anything else. You are my strength, You’re my portion, You have been faithful, You are my only real source of joy, You’re the only one I could ever count on. You are eternal, You are good, and You are sovereign.” You get it?
Now here’s the question: How do you get that? How can you get an eternal perspective? How do you get the big picture instead of getting your emotional radar locked into, “That person, that’s what they did! Here are the consequences. I’m not dealing with this in a negative way. I don’t have a problem. I’m not angry about this. I’ve dealt with it.” And all the rest of us are saying, “You know, have you thought of a good counselor?” “I don’t need any counseling! This isn’t a problem!” Been there and done that, huh?
Let me give you three ways to get God’s perspective. Number one, focus on God’s character. Read through the Psalms, buy A.W. Tozer’s book, a little, thin book, The Knowledge of the Holy, read or pray through the Ten Commandments and ask, “What attribute of God does each commandment reflect?” His justice, His goodness, His holiness? But the three attributes you have to focus on: God is good, God is sovereign, and God is faithful.
What you’re experiencing did not catch God off guard. “Oh my gosh! Look what happened to poor, little Chip! Gabriel! Did anybody know this was going to happen?”
“Oh my gosh! She ran out! He ran off! They cheated so-and-so!” I mean, God didn’t get surprised. He is sovereign. He is in control. That means not only does He know about it, but He will turn it around and use it for good if you don’t bail out of His plan. He is good. He has your best interest in mind.
People can try and do negative things to you, they can try and hurt you, He is bigger than they are, He is more powerful than they are.
And He is faithful. Every promise He has made to you, He is going to come through. In your timing? Probably not.
And in the process, as you struggle with it, it’ll probably make you a lot more like Christ, which is the big plan anyway.
So number one, focus on the attributes of God. Number two, get into the Bible. Scripture will give you perspective. In fact, that’s why I believe Joseph, I’m reading through the Old Testament right now, Joseph is the perfect example, isn’t he? I mean, here’s a righteous, young man and he does good, he gets bad; he does good, he gets more bad; he does more good, he does get more and more bad.
Open Genesis 37 and read it to chapter 50 and here’s a guy who does what’s right and so they sell him into slavery. Here’s a guy that, when he’s a slave, he does everything right so he rises to the head of Potiphar’s household and Potiphar’s wife says, “Hey, man, I want to sleep with you.” And he’s righteous and runs away, and she lies and he ends up in prison.
He’s in prison, he does what’s right, and two people forget him. Why? Because God had a bigger plan. For twelve to fourteen years, Joseph does right, Joseph does right, Joseph does right, circumstances go bad, bad, worse, really bad. But there’s a little phrase when you read through that.
Every time something bad happens, this little phrase is after Joseph: “And the Lord was with Joseph.” And the Lord is with you.
And when you focus on Scripture, you get perspective. So, by the end of his life, Joseph can see it through the eternal lens, he’s got the big picture. And his brothers are shaking in their boots and they’re thinking, “Oh, Dad’s died, now Joseph is going to take revenge.”
And I can see Joseph crossing his arms, in fact, it says, “He weeps.” And he turns to his brothers and says, “Guys, you still don’t get it, do you? You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive.” A la, “You guys did it for the wrong motives, the wrong reason,” but God had a plan and He was going to take the whole nation of Israel and put them in the incubator of Egypt, in this lush land, to multiply, to fulfill His promises, and He allowed this evil to happen to Joseph to fulfill that.
God has a Joseph plan for you. Don’t bail out. You want the big picture? Focus on God’s attributes, number one; two, focus on Scripture; and three, get around God’s people.
One of the reasons I shared with the elders, and the biggest areas I’ve struggled with with injustice, it has been my small group or the elders that I’ve been able to bounce that off of and get their perspective. And as they talked, it was really interesting, they’ve got all their ups and downs, like we do, but they’ve been around a while. That’s why we call them “elders.” The word means “older.” And they talked about some of the biggest hits they’ve taken but now, in the rearview mirror, is, “You know what? God has just used that. God has just used that. God has just used that.”
So, you’re struggling with a raw deal, and you want God to really help you. One, pour out your heart. Two, consider carefully the choices you make. It’s dangerous ground. Three, get the big picture. Get the eternal perspective. And four, reaffirm your relationship with God. Ultimately, God’s presence, Him. Ultimately, the final analysis, God’s presence is your only sure source of security and joy both now and forever.
There are a lot of good things in my life but none of them have the power to be consistent day in, day out and come through for me. And the moment I begin to trust in them, they become an idol.
And what he’s saying here is, reaffirm your relationship with God. Turn the raw deal over to God. Verse 27, realize, you know what? People who have done wicked, evil things, verse 27, you know what? God’s big, justice will happen, they’ll get their due. “But as for me…” let the nearness of God be your good.
Make cultivating a relationship with Him your good. Make a choice. He said, “I have made the Lord God my refuge.” Make a choice today before you leave to take the raw deal, give it to God, and then say, “God, I want You to work it for good, I’ll stay in the game plan, and I want to walk with You.”
And the day will come when you will tell of His deeds, when you will say, “This terrible thing happened in my life and lo and behold, what a marvelous thing God did through it.”
Well, I’ve got a couple that I want to introduce to you. It’s Jerry and Lori Deitz. And they’re going to come out and share, really, the testimony of the deeds that God has done in their life through some very, very difficult times.
And as they come out, let me give you a little background on them because I want you to hear more about how they’ve learned and how they’ve grown. Let me give you a little background on Jerry. An eighteen-year-old, he is quite an athlete, has a tremendous future in college and likely beyond in football.
And he decides to do a good deed. And his good deed is there is a fight and he breaks up the fight. And one of the people fighting pulls out a gun and a bullet goes through Jerry that paralyzes him and then the fellow gets closer and at point blank range, puts two more rounds in his stomach.
Jerry, since that time, at least since I’ve know him, has had three or four times of complications where he has almost lost his life, and since that time has had over thirty major surgeries.
Lori has been through a little bit different scenario of, talk about tough times, injustice. As a young woman in the military she was raped and beaten and came out of the military a very hardened woman, angry with life and especially with men.
She found herself in a relationship that was both physically and emotionally abusive to her over ten years. And then since that time, she found Christ and just to add, a little pain to what was already painful, you’ll notice she has a cane here. And I don’t know in the last five or six years that I’ve ever talked with Lori where she didn’t either have a cane, a crutch. She has had twenty-three major operations in the last eight years.
And so, I don’t know where you’ve been but I think they have something to say to us about trusting God in the midst of difficulty and adversity and what at least seems very unjust.
Let me ask you, Jerry and Lori, how has God used what you’ve been through to change your life? Why don’t you start first, Jerry?
Jerry: Well, I think that, who says we got a raw deal out of the deal? So, that’s my first thought on it. But God took me and when I first got hurt I tried to use my strength, my physical ability and my mental toughness to overcome the disability. As that went on, it got harder and it got harder because the reality of the disability got harder and harder.
So, Christ, when I accepted Christ, kind of jumped on the team with me so, you know, this thing that He carries you through the sand and He takes all those hard times away is true.
The hard times are still there but with Him, the hard times don’t seem so bad. So, I can still take the mental toughness and the physical ability I have, just transfer them into a different arena.
So, He’s given me the strength to know that no matter what happens, I know the end of the story. And so, we all win. So, no matter what happens in between, it’s okay.
Chip: Wow. How about you, Lori? How has God used all that you’ve been through to change your life?
Lori: Well, I started out after the military as a very bitter, angry person, ready to punch anybody that looked at me wrong. I was very, very deeply hurt. I was frightened, I was like a rabbit that would quickly go in a hole, very, very self-protective.
And God just had to take all that shell away and let me know that if I leaned on Him and looked to Him as the center of my life, He would take care of the other stuff and He would take care of the circumstances. So, I just need to fully trust and fully lean on His strength.
Chip: And that’s not always such an easy proposition. I mean, it’s good to say, I mean, the Bible is really clear, “Trust Me and I’ll be there and I’ll be your strength.” And let me follow with one more question because I know you guys pretty well and we’ve spent some time together and I know that when things get real tough I know Jerry is one of the toughest minded, highly focused guys I have ever met and he’s a marathoner. And when he starts to get discouraged he just says, “I’m not going there.”
But you’ve got a little bit different personality, emotional makeup. When you get to the point and you wake up in the morning and you just say, because there’s a lot of people here, I’m convinced, that are the point where they want to say, “I want to throw in the towel. You know, this is too hard. This isn’t fair. This stinks.” What do you do when you get right to the edge and you just say, “I can’t take this anymore. I want to quit.” Where do you go? What do you do?
Lori: Well, when the day, it’s a couple areas, I have a lot of physical pain and I have nightmares that I still have. And when I get full of anguish and anxiety, I have to remember that I have to go back to the source of my strength. So, the first thing I do is I pray. And I pray really, really hard. And it takes as long as it takes to get the peace in.
I also go into the Bible and I have two verses that are my promise from God. The first one is Jeremiah 29:11, sorry guys, and that’s, “‘I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘they are to prosper and not to harm you. They are to give you a hope and a future.’”
And I never thought there was hope for any kind of life after what I had been through but God proved it different and as long as we trust Him through it, we will succeed, that it can’t be our strength because I can’t do it on my own because I’ll drown in the circumstances if I look at them.
Chip: And so you go to prayer, you go to God’s Word, and then you shared with me too that this is when, this has really developed an intense relationship, you and Jerry talk very deeply. And you made a comment last night, is it okay to share since you did? Is that Jerry knows you in ways better than yourself and because when he sees you sinking, he can come in.
And, see, I want people to hear, there are times where we pray, we get in God’s Word, but God has special people in our lives to give us perspective that we just can’t get on our own. Well let me shift gears now because, you know, a lot of people are saying, “Yeah, Chip, thanks for the Joseph story, you know, Genesis 37, few thousand years ago, I’m glad it turned out better for him but you don’t know my deal.”
How has God used your situation for the good? What good has come out of all the stuff you have been through?
Jerry: Well, I think that’s the exciting part about it. You know, we see it going on and we don’t really see what’s going on but as I look back, I’ve been in wheelchair sports for thirty years. I’ve been a Christian for twenty-five years. And I’ve traveled all over the world and I’ve been able to share with people what Christ has done in my life. Not only have I been able to compete and continue in that avenue of life but I can take what God has done in my life, with a lot of disabled people, and a lot of able bodied people, and I have something that the able bodied people can see is, they think is a problem.
The disabled people realize, “Ah, it could be a problem, it could not be a problem because we’re all in the same boat.” So, what happens is I can share that Christ has come into my heart, come into my life, and taken what would appear to be a terrible situation and turn it around and made it a great situation.
And so, as we’ve talked before, I’ve traveled all over the world in sports and have been able to share the Lord. And so, it doesn’t get much better than that. It’s pretty exciting stuff.
Chip: Do you think you would have ever met Lori if this wouldn’t have happened?
Jerry: No way.
Chip: Do you think you would have ever become a Christian? I mean, we never know but, with the kind of makeup and personality that says, “I can do it myself,” do you think you would ever have found Christ on your own apart from where you have been?
Jerry: Um, I don’t think so. You know, I always knew who Christ was, I knew who God was but I didn’t have a personal relationship. And I think that’s the part that changed. When I accepted Him, Christ, into my life that it became a personal relationship. I don’t think that would have ever happened.
Chip: Well, Jerry probably wouldn’t tell you this but it’s a great testimony of God. He’s a world-class marathoner. He has a gold medal in the Olympics wheelchair basketball team. He was, in 1996, at the Atlanta games in a pentathlon, and for all the world to see, his picture and his name came up in the final, last race in the pentathlon, and that has opened doors for Jerry to travel the world and tell people about Christ. God can take what was meant for evil and use it for good. Thank you, guys, for your courage and thanks for just hanging in there because we know it’s a day by day tough deal. We love you and we appreciate you.
Jerry: Thank you!
Chip: We want to give you a chance not to simply hear and say, “That’s great.” You know where I’m going, right? See, the goal of Scripture is not that we become more intelligent about the truth. The goal of Scripture is we practice it.
I’d like to give you some time, if you’ve never poured out your heart, if you’ve never taken that raw area of injustice and the pain, just sit quietly, bow your head, and you and God, pour out your heart. Give Him the raw deal, turn it over to Him and, as a part of this, whoever hurt you, choose to forgive them.