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The Search for Sarai Sierra


I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.   -- Psalm 143: 4-6 (NLT)


Sarai Sierra has been missing now for over a week in the country of Turkey. On her first trip overseas she kept in constant contact with her family until she failed to show up for her flight home. When investigators went to where she was staying, they found her passport, phone charger and clothing still in her room. Facebook has been active with friends, family, and strangers gathering together in prayer and love for her safe return home. In the midst of times such as this it is easy to despair or allow the enemy to speak things to us that are not true, as is his plan. We hope in God however so let us reflect this morning to some words of encouragement and direction.


The Psalmist here is David and this is written clearly during a time of great turmoil in his life. Perhaps it is when his life was in eminent danger, possibly from the pursuit of King Saul. Whatever the cause, we see our key verses open up with David admitting his human frailty before God. This is the first application for us today. It is ok for believers to be open and transparent -- even in the face of fear and doubt. We do not need to appear super-spiritual. We do not need to mask our emotions or disguise our concerns. Today's deep theology is this beloved -- there is no one super-spiritual, only those who are hiding behind piety. This is King David here! Even if it is during the hunt by Saul, David has already been anointed by Samuel. He has already slain the giant Goliath. He has already slain the bear and lion that attacked his flocks. He is no spiritual midget. Yet he is open and honest before God to say that he is losing his hope. He is paralyzed by fear. We can learn a lot here from David when we face the uncertainties of life. When we do not know the outcome of a situation that is tearing at our hearts.


So what do we do with our doubts and fears beloved? What do we do when we are faced with a situation that is beyond our earthly control? We take it to the only one who is above all earthly control -- God. Sounds simple enough but how about some practical application? David is kind enough here to show us the way continuing in the key verses. He provides us with three keys today for what to do when we are faced with such great inner turmoil. The first such key is to remember the great works God has already done. Why? Does God need to be reminded what He has done? No -- we do! That is how we combat doubt. We remember what God has already done. This is how we gain strength. We remember what God has already done. When David surveyed the situation with Goliath and decided that he would confront him, here was the exchange that followed:


Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth." But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." Saul said to David, "Go, and the Lord be with you." -- 1Samuel 17: 33-37 (NLT)


David is confronted with what appears to be a hopeless situation. A ten foot giant that has all the mighty men of Israel cowering in fear. Nothing but doubt from the lips of his king -- even when he says he will go and fight the giant. Certainly in his flesh David had his doubts too. Certainly in his humanity he was afraid. But he counters those fears and doubts by remembering what God has already done for him in his life. He remembers the lion and the bear. The issue is not the height of the giant. The issue is not the ferocity of the giant. The only issue that matters is the God that he serves so he bolsters his strength by remembering who he serves. We should do the same when faced with uncertainty. Doubt and fear are playgrounds for the enemy to work in. Don't give him a foothold.


Next we see the Psalmist lift his hands in prayer to God. The Bible says that the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. We have direct access to the throne room of God Himself yet we often overlook it or take it for granted. Instead we focus on the worldly situation which we cannot control. Realize that the battle is between what we feel and what we believe. The devil wants us focused on what we feel because that is the gateway to despair. God wants us focusing on what we believe because that is the gateway to His presence -- in which there is fullness of joy. The three Hebrew boys must have felt something when they saw Nebuchadnezzar heat up the fiery furnace seven times hotter just for them! They must have felt the heat. They must have felt the despair. The situation must have felt hopeless. But they responded with what they believed:


Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." -- Daniel 3: 16-18 (NLT)


When the world stands us in front of the hopeless situation, the fiery furnace of doubt and despair, it will ask you how you feel. We must respond with what we believe. Go to God in prayer. Only He has the answers. The final application for us today is found in the conclusion of the key verses. David says that he thirsts for God as a parched land thirsts for rain. This speaks to the intensity of our seeking God during our hopeless moments. In this microwave society we live in I think that we have become accustomed to the quick and dirty way of dealing with God. We like our devotionals in a single paragraph. We like our church services to be over in an hour and a half. When we approach God with a fast food mentality we will be about as spiritually unhealthy as we can be. We do not need a McFaith. We need to thirst for God as if we are dying without Him -- which we are. A parched land without rain is in a state of dying. A parched spirit without pursuing God is equally doomed. A fast food faith will not survive the dark days of doubt. It simply will not.


We pray today as the body of Christ for the safe return of Sarai Sierra. I do not know where she is but God does. I do not know what has happened but I know the God I serve. He has provided us with His Word so we can be equipped for every situation in life -- no matter how trying or fearful. We remember all He has done and take comfort in knowing He can do exceedingly above anything we can ask. We need to go to Him in prayer because we know that this battle is between what we believe and what we feel and we can give the devil no quarter. We need to seek him thirstily; as if our very life depended upon it -- because it does. I leave you with a Word from God for us today as we continue to lift this young woman up in prayer to God:


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. -- Romans 12: 12 (NIV)




Rev. Anthony.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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