On Saturday evening, after two “blessed” days of traveling 700 miles to our destination in Florida, I couldn’t wait to check out a church on Sunday morning. My husband had plans to attend his conference, so I gathered the kids and we went exploring. With a recommendation and directions from the concierge for a “more lively” church, we were on our way. I expected a medium sized church but was very much surprised to be attending The Potter’s House Christian Fellowship, a mega church of about 3000, full of excitement to praise God.
There was a large stage area with about 20 people in the worship team. The sanctuary was really a huge one story room that used to be a department store. To help everyone see the staging area, there were four giant screens that were suspended from the ceiling. There were two in the front on either side of the stage and two more half way back on the left and right. During the worship time, there were three people dancing with large scarves in the very front of the auditorium. I also saw people walking around with large ornate banners with phrases that gave praise to God. My thought was, “Wow, people really can worship freely here!”
“Faith In Famine” was the title of the sermon that day, by Bishop Vaughn McLaughlin, the senior pastor and founder of PHCF. Once again, I witnessed God teaching me through different perspectives. Most of Mclaughlin’s scripture came from Genesis (12, 15, 16, 17, 21) and spoke of the time Abraham, went back to Egypt during a tough famine instead of toughing it out like God asked him to do. Because of Abraham’s disobedience, he fathered a son (Ishmael) by someone other than his wife which fathered the Arab nation that today is known as the followers of Islam. As God promised Abraham and Sarah, they did have a son (Isaac) which perpetuated the Jewish nation. Sometimes our disobedience can have a lasting effect on future generations.
(see http://www.gotquestions.org/Jews-Arabs.html for more information about the conflict we know today between these two nations.)
Abraham’s second son, Isaac, also lived during a terrible famine in the land of Canaan and just like his father before him, God instructed him to stay in the land of Canaan and not go to Egypt. Isaac obeyed God and God sustained him during the famine. It wasn’t easy or comfortable, but God was with them. And blessed them. (Genesis 26:1-13)
For several days before hearing this sermon, I had been reading in the book of Hebrews and had just reached the eleventh chapter commonly known as the “Faith Hall of Fame”, because the author (possibly the apostle Paul) explains what faith is and gives a long list of God’s people who have shown great faith in extreme situations. Then in chapter 12, he says:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The faith stories of Abraham & Sarah and Isaac are among the “Faith Hall of Fame.” So, I’m not the first person to suffer for Christ nor am I the last and neither are you my friend. Our personal situations always seem so BIG to us and insurmountable sometimes, but our GOD is always bigger than our situations and our FAITH needs to match our GOD. McLaughlin said to go lookin’ for a miracle and expect a miracle when your “famine” hits.
Bishop McLaughlin, preached about not going back to Egypt (that place where life is easier and appears safer) when your situation is uncomfortable, but rather to use your faith to ride out your uncomfortable situation. My challenge to you and to myself during tough economical times, personal health crisis, marital crisis or any uncomfortable situation is to remember WHOSE you are (a child of the King), USE YOUR WEAPONS (the word of God) and stand strong using your shield of FAITH to let God show you how much he loves you and will sustain you.
Many people reading this have had many tougher situations than I have ever had to encounter. I look upon them with love and awe that they are still praising God during their extremely uncomfortable and scary times. God knows what we can handle and just when we can’t handle anymore, He is right there by our side ready to carry us THROUGH the tough times. It’s the experience from those tough times that refines us into the beautiful bride of Christ.
No matter your situation you most likely have the choice to “return to Egypt” where life is safe and perhaps even logical. Or, you can choose to stay in the “promised” land where life is difficult for a season, and reap the benefits from God’s blessing. What will you choose? Go to Egypt? Or Stay in Canaan? Will you have “FAITH IN FAMINE”? I'd love to hear your Faith in Famine story.