Whenever I read or recall the above verse to mind I also remember a story I once heard. It was about a Jewish Christian who had lived in Germany during World War II. He lost everything. He lost his family business, home and wealth. He was put in a Concentration Camp and lost his good health and became a starved and ill man. And he had to watch his wife and children die before him. But he survived. And someone was speaking to him about his experience and asked him how he managed to hold it all together. His reply struck me and has continues to do so since. He said with tears streaming down his cheeks: “It is only when you lose everything that you realize that Christ is all you need”
The storm clouds of life were heavy and dark, the wind raged, the waves tossed and the future seemed bleak. My prayers were empty words devoid of comfort, the Bible held no help, my sins towered over me, my lack of faith and love for God weighed my soul down and it all was too much. My strength, pitiful as it was, was spent; my courage had deserted me and God seemed so very far away. He seemed to be deaf to my pleas and all was lost. I was perplexed and in despair, sorrowful and not rejoicing, confused and baffled by God’s providence. My own understanding failed me and hope was too distant a concept to grasp. The path before me was dark and crooked, my soul was downcast and my thoughts troubled.
And I suffered the temptation to quit. To give up and walk away from all that I did. I’d toss in the towel and leave God and Christianity behind me. It was too heavy a burden to bear, too much for my feeble frame, too hard, too painful, I couldn’t do it.
And yet, and yet no sooner had I entertained this thought when a barrier in my mind slammed into place. I couldn’t quit. It became impossibility itself and every fibre of my being rejected the temptation and turned back to God. Who else was there to turn to?
The simple truth about mankind is that left to our devices we are naturally rebels against God. Left on our own we are depraved beings. Left to our own devices we make very poor company indeed. Left to our own devices everything we do is a sin. Left to our own devices we run our Hell bound race indifferent to the cost.
Don’t believe me? As Paul writes:
“and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
Romans 8 v 23
Paul relates our moral standing not to how we treat our fellow man but to our relationship with God. If we have no faith in God then nothing we do is morally good. For if we have no faith in God we have no faith in truth, no faith in righteousness, no faith in good for all these things are God.
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Romans 1 v 21