Through Thick And Thin

God has graciously given us who believe in Christ great and precious promises.  But it’s not enough to simply have them.  We must believe them.

O! He is a suitable Savior! He has power, authority, and compassion, to save to the uttermost. He has given His word of promise, to engage our confidence, and He is able and faithful to make good the expectations and desires He has raised in us. Put your trust in Him; believe (as we say) through thick and thin, in defiance of all objections from within and without. –John Newton

It’s easy to believe God’s promises when we’re prospering, when our children are doing well, when everything is going our way.  When Israel marched triumphantly out of a crippled Egypt after the destroying angel had killed Egypt’s firstborn, and Israel was laden down with the treasures their captors had given them, it was easy for them to believe God would fulfill his promises.

But shortly afterward, when they came to the Red Sea and Egyptian chariots were barrelling down upon them, everything around them screamed that God had abandoned them.  Reminds me of the song Stuck in the Middle with You by Stealers Wheel: “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”  Israel was stuck with no where to go.

Everything within and without them screamed “God has abandoned us.”

The big question when we go through a trial is what are we going to believe – God’s promises or our circumstances?  God’s word or our emotions?  God’s promises or our interpretation of the circumstances?

How it would have glorified God if the Israelites had said, “Don’t worry, he’ll be here.  He’s brought us this far; he won’t abandon us now.”  How it would have pleased God, when they heard the thunder of chariot wheels, if they would have said, “Don’t worry, God will protect us.  He’ll make a way of escape.”

Trust him “through thick and thin, in defiance of all objections from within and without.”  And you will see the One who is able to save to the uttermost fulfill his promises.

  • Petra Hefner

    Great post! "How it would have glorified God if the Israelites had said, “Don’t worry, he’ll be here. He’s brought us this far; he won’t abandon us now.” Praying that we can all reach that point!

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thanks Petra!

  • Toby

    you know, if you had not put that Stealers Wheel lyric in, and, if you had not used the picture with the huge wheel on the chariot, I probably would be reading this entry in a more spiritual way. As it is, I am now trying desperately to get that horrible "You picked a bad time to leave me, Lucille" song out of my head, thanks to my brother who always sang, "You picked a bad time to leave me Loose Wheel."

    Just thought you ought to know that.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thanks Toby, for your honest comments. I guess I wouldn't have anticipated the wheel motif would be distracting….

  • Joey

    This is very timely. My pastor just preached yesterday on Mark 8:10-21, where the disciples are grumbling over not having bread with them, and this was right after Jesus performed 2 huge miracles providing bread for the thousands.

    We so often forget that we have the provider right here with us every moment as His children. Thanks for the encouraging post Mark.

    • MarkAltrogge

      Hey Joey,

      I like what you said: "We so often forget that we have the provider right here with us every moment as His children." Great comment – thanks!

  • Elaine

    Years ago, our pastor would encourage to enjoy the Lord's goodness but to also use those times as opportunities to pursue the Lord and His promises in order to prepare for difficult days to come. When the trials did come, he would encourage us to hold fast to the Lord's promises and to remember how He had blessed us in the past. We have found this counsel to be a great help to us. When we have experienced hurts, the Holy Spirit brings us back to those "storehouses" of truth and by His grace, we have been able to rest in Him.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Mark! It's apprecated!

    • MarkAltrogge

      Excellent comments Elaine!

      Yes! Use trials as opportunities to seek the Lord; remember past blessings – great counsel!

  • John

    True indeed.

    When we believe in Him, we will go to Him to drink.

    However how can you know you truly believe until you have been tested? Like you say it is easy to say why you believe when things are easy!

    • Mark Altrogge

      You are so right John, trials prove the genuineness of our faith! Thanks for adding your comments.

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  • Tiffiney Bradley

    This is a refreshing view! I am in a heavy trial now, and my attitude is that God is with me. I give God the glory for this. May I submit a few interview questions to you for you to answer? May I post your link on my blog? Let me know.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hi Tiffiney, by your attitude in your trial you are glorifying God! Sure you can post the link on your blog – any time! And I'd be happy to try and answer some interview questions.

  • Caroline

    Trials are a great revelation of our heart condition. It is so important to be constantly soaked in His word so that in times of trials the most important truth that we need to believe is that God is good and that He loves us. So however painful the trail may be, it is for a purpose.
    I cling to this verse during a trial and it helps me to focus on Him :)

    James 1:2-4
    "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

    • MarkAltrogge

      You are so right, Caroline, trials reveal our hearts! And you hit the nail on the head – soaking in Scripture does so much to build our faith for times when we encounter trials. Thanks for adding these thoughts!

  • Ron Reffett

    Hey there Mark,
    Great post as always, I always find it amazing how the Lord uses you and Stephen to speak into my life through your blog. We were just talking about this very subject in our small group the other night and just how sometimes when we are going through the various trials and hardships of this life, it's exactly where the Lord reveals Himself the clearest. God transcends us in such infinite greatness, His ways are totally not like ours and He even uses the things that are intended to harm us for His glory and our good, He is amazing!
    Thank you for the much needed encouragement this morning!
    Ron Reffett

  • Ron Reffett

    oh yeah and I meant to say..right after I read this post, "Stuck In The Middle With You" came on the radio! pretty cool, eh?

    • MarkAltrogge

      Hey Ron,

      Thanks again for your faith-filled comments!

      And obviously since "Stuck in the Middle With You" came on immediately after your read the post, that confirms how in tune with something I must be. Not sure what, but something.