Air conditioning is, many of us would agree, one of the great blessings of our modern world. It is perhaps not quite as revolutionary as indoor plumbing, but it’s still pretty close. It is also one of those things that, once you are used to it, is noticed more in the absence. That is, as the saying goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Then, as the summer heat begins to increase, and the humidity rises, you realize how good you had it when the A.C. was still working.
Air Conditioning does not remove the heat. Which is why, when it stops working, you notice its absence. Rather, the A.C. provides relieve from the heat; a way to cope. Likewise, when there is no heat, there is no need for the A.C. and it is not uncommon to only realize there is a problem with the cooling in your house sometime after everything has already gotten unbearably hot.
The prophet Isaiah observed about God: “You have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” (Isaiah 25:4; ESV)
Relatedly, the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8; ESV)
Both prophets are teaching us the same thing: God provides comfort and relief from the problems and difficulties of life. He can be compared to cool in the midst of heat, or a shelter in times of storms.
God does not teach us that He will remove the trials and temptations of this present life. He does not promise to eliminate all the various difficulties that might plague us. What God does promise is that when trials come, He will provide the strength and ability to cope. There will be storms, but God offers shelter. There will be distress, but God offers shade. There will be times of drought, but God offers a never-ending stream of life giving water.
Of course, again, when there is no heat, one frequently does not realize that the cooling system in one’s house might not be working. Likewise, in a life without turmoil, we might not realize that our relationship with God is not what it should be.
Many a follower of Christ has been caught by trials of various sorts, only to discover that they don’t have the peace which passes understanding and the joy which overflows in every circumstance. They felt happy and joyful only so long as circumstances were favorable, but when circumstances go south, so too does their attitude. When this happens, Christians should realize that the problem is not with God, rather, in some manner, they have allowed themselves to drift from the thought and behavior that God proscribes in order to obtain blessings.
The Psalmist wrote, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” (Psalm 119:1) The term, “blessed,” indicates a state of joy and happiness. Contrarily, God declares, “there is no peace for the wicked,” (Isaiah 48:22) and elsewhere, “the way of peace they do not know.” (Isaiah 59:8a)
If one trusts the word of God to be true, then when trials strike and we find our joy and sense of security to be missing, when we feel that there is no “shade from the heat,” and no “shelter in the storm,” then we must conclude that there is a problem with our faith and our practice of that faith. The solution is not to give up, but rather examine our lives and our thinking to determine where the problem lies.
When the A.C. breaks, one does not give up on the idea of Air Conditioning, rather, typically, one calls a repairman to identify the problem and fix it. Likewise, when we discover a problem with our faith, the right answer is not to give up on faith, but rather, to turn to God’s word and see what solution He suggests for the problem. Then, having discovered His answer, to put it into practice.
That’s the way to beat the heat in faith; and it has an added bonus of not only allowing us to face the trials of this life, but, in the next life, to truly escape the heat, finding eternal shelter in the house of God. (cf. Revelation 20:6, 14)
If you would like to learn more about the peace and security that God offers, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.