The Presence of Peace and Joy

Claude Houde

The Bible affirms that a wife and children are a gift from the Lord. “Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which he has given you under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:9, AMP) and “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3, ESV).

Before going any further in that line of thought, however, admit that if you are the parent of a teenager in the midst of an existential crisis where everything is called into question, it is possible that you have wondered if this ‘gift’ was exchangeable, or at least refundable.

Take courage. Adolescence, like thunderstorms, eventually passes.

More seriously, though, I would like you to take hold of a supremely important realization for your family that could change your present and your future. Not only are children a gift from the Lord, but parents are called to be a gift from the Lord to their children. Let me share with you a practical tip from Ecclesiastes and the Psalms for your daily life.

Take pleasure in the woman you love. Gentlemen, the most amazing gift you can give your children every day is to love their mom. Give them the gift of seeing you rejoice and laugh with their mother. Be a gift of joy to your children by loving your wife. To love your wife is also to make a commitment before God to not argue in front of your children. There will always be sources of frustration and conflict, but make the decision to talk about it later, one-on-one, when the children are away.

We are human, and we have all failed to do this before. However, I encourage you to renew this covenant and to dedicate yourselves to this prayer: “Lord, put a guard over my mouth, and help me with my speech to my bride. Let my children not hear me verbally attack or denigrate their mother. On the contrary, let them hear and see me honoring her, loving her, appreciating her, valuing her and giving her affection.”

With this decision to keep the peace, our presence becomes a priceless gift from the Lord to our children. Let’s be gifts of forgiveness, patience and peace to our families. The model of our behavior will be the most impactful message in their lives.

Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.

Don’t Be Afraid of Suffering

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Christ’s resurrection was preceded by a short period of suffering. It’s a guarantee to us that we do suffer. There is pain and sorrow. It is often the will of God that we suffer feelings of emptiness and even pain. “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19, NKJV).

The problem is that we do not want to suffer or be hurt. We want painless deliverance, supernatural intervention. “Do it, God,” we pray, “because I am weak and always will be. Do it all while I go my way, waiting for a supernatural deliverance.”

We may blame our troubles on demons. We seek out a man of God and hope he can cast out the demon so that we can go on our way with no more pain. We want to breeze right through to a peaceful life of victory. We want someone to lay hands on us and drive away all the spiritual dryness, but sometimes the Lord’s will is to work through our hardship. Victory is not always without grave suffering. Look at your sin. Face it. Scripture commands us, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13, NKJV). 

We are also promised, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Thank God, suffering is always just a period before final victory! If we patiently endure our trials, we can expect worthy rewards. “May the God of all grace, who called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:10).

God’s love demands a choice. If God supernaturally lifted us out of every battle without pain or suffering, it would abort all trials and all temptation; there would be no free choice and no testing as by fire. It would be God superimposing his will on mankind. He chooses to meet us in our dryness and show us how it can become the way into a new life of faith.

The Prayer of the Righteous

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Why is it that none of us pray as we should? We know that our burdens can all be lifted when we are shut in with him. The voice of the Holy Spirit keeps calling us to prayer, “Come!” Come to the water that satisfies our souls’ thirst. Come to the Father who pities his children. Come to the Lord of life who promises to forgive every sin we have committed. Come to the God who refuses to condemn you, forsake you or hide from you.

The Lord promises his people, “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring” (Isaiah 44:3, NKJV).

We may try to hide from God because of guilt and condemnation, but he never hides from us. Come boldly to his throne of grace, even when you have sinned and failed. He instantly forgives those who repent with godly sorrow. You don’t have to spend hours and days in remorse and guilt or earn your way back into his good graces.

We try everything except prayer. We read books, looking for formulas and guidelines. We go to friends, ministers and counselors, searching everywhere for a word of comfort or advice. We seek mediators and forget the one Mediator who has the answer to everything.

The New Testament urges believers, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:13-16).

Nothing dispels anxiety and emptiness more quickly than an hour or two shut in with God. Nothing can take the place of praying to the Father in that secluded secret closet. Go to the Father, bend your knees, open your heart and cry out your anguish. Tell him about your loneliness, fears and failures. That is the solution to all of the turmoil in our hearts.

Going through a Drought

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Even though I preach to thousands, there are times that I feel far away from the warm presence of God. When I’m dry and empty, I have no great yearning to read the Word and little compulsion to pray. I know that my faith is intact, that my love for Jesus is strong and that I have no desire to taste the things of this world. It’s just that I can’t seem to touch God for days, maybe even weeks.

Have you ever watched other Christians get blessed while you feel nothing? They testify of God’s answers to their prayers and shed tears of joy. They seem to live on a mountaintop of happy experiences while you plod along, loving Jesus but not setting the world on fire.

I believe all true believers experience dry spells at various times in their Christian lives. Even Jesus felt the isolation when he cried aloud, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” (see Matthew 27:45-47).

Without the nearness of God, there can be no peace. The dryness can be lifted only with the dew of his glory. The despair can be dispelled only by the assurance that God is answering. The fire of the Holy Spirit must heat the mind, body and soul. Scripture states, “For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the place of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; he encircled him, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye” (Deuteronomy 32:9-10, NKJV).

The Lord also says, “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen” (Isaiah 43:19-20).

There are times I feel unworthy like the worst kind of sinner; but in spite of all that, I know he is not far off. Somehow I hear a distinct, small voice calling, “Come, my child. I still love you, and I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I have a flame in me that will not be smothered, and I know he will bring me out of any dry spell.

The God of Deliverance

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

A number of ministers have written to me expressing their concern for parishioners who are simply giving up. “Good honest Christians are so overwhelmed by guilt and condemnation that it causes despair. When they can’t live up to their own expectations, when they fall back into sin, they decide to give up…”

Growing numbers of Christians are at the breaking point. Few Christians would even dare entertain thoughts of quitting on their love for Jesus, but in despair they consider giving up on themselves.

Some ministers today continually preach only a positive message. To hear them tell it, every Christian is receiving miracles; everybody is getting instant answers to prayer; everybody is feeling good and living well, and the whole world is bright and rosy. I love to hear that kind of preaching because I really desire all those good and healthy things for God’s people.

That’s not the way things are, though, for a great number of very honest, sincere Christians. No wonder our young people often give up in defeat. They can’t live up to the image created by religion of a carefree, rich, successful, always positive-thinking Christian. Their world is not that ideal; they live with heartbreaks, hour-by-hour crises and family problems.

Paul talked frankly about his troubles. “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8, NKJV).

Positive thinking won’t make these problems go away and “confessing” that these problems don’t really exist doesn’t change a thing. What is the cure? Paul speaks of it after describing his anguish. “Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that he will still deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10).

This absolute has brought me great comfort and help. God loves me. He is a loving Father wanting only to lift us out of our weakness. It is my faith that pleases him most. He wants me to trust in his deliverance.