Daily Devotional

December 20

A First Book of Daily Readings

by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)

In times of perplexity

People usually want a clear answer to a specific question, but the Bible does not always give us what we desire in this respect. It does, however, teach us a method....

(a) Stop to think.... The first thing is to think instead of speaking. ‘Be swift to hear,’ says James, ‘slow to speak, slow to wrath’ (Jas. 1:19). Our trouble is that we are swift to speak and swift to wrath, but slow to think. According to this prophet
[Habakkuk], however, the first thing to do is to ponder. Before expressing our reactions we must discipline ourselves to think....

(b) Re-state basic principles ... you must not begin with your immediate problem. Begin further back.... We must first remind ourselves of those things of which we are absolutely certain, things which are entirely beyond doubt. Write them down and say to yourself, ‘In this terrible and perplexing situation in which I find myself, here at least is solid ground’. When, walking on moorlands, or over a mountain range, you come to bogs, the only way to negotiate them is to find solid places on which you can place your feet.... So, in spiritual problems, you must return to eternal and absolute principles....

(c) Apply the principles to the problem ... problems are capable of solution only if they are put into the right context.

(d) If still in doubt, commit the problem to God in faith.... If you are still not clear about the answer, then just take it to God in prayer and leave it there with Him. That is what [Habakkuk] did in 1:13. In the preceding verse and in the early part of v. 13, the prophet was clearly still perplexed, so he took the problem to God and left it there.

Once we have the right method we can apply it to any problem: to God’s strange dealings with a nation, to problems in the world, or equally to personal difficulties.

From Fear to Faith, pp. 25–8

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