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people of praise

God invites us to trust him amid life’s challenges


In God we trust. Four simple words, yet they carry so much meaning for our country and for our individual lives. Those words echo the promise from our loving God, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, and the flames shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2-3).

A short while ago, I read an article about the Chinese government’s effort to construct a giant dam. When work was done, the great gates were closed and the water behind the dam rose and flooded the valley behind. One-time hills were transformed into islands, which grew smaller as the water came up. On these shrinking pieces of property the wild animals took refuge.

The government knew this would happen and had made plans to save those wild beasts. A small armada of boats had been brought in and were equipped with ropes, snares, nets and cages. The individuals manning those vessels set out to visit the islands and save the animals.

Not a bad idea except for one thing. Guess what happened? The animals all came forward to the lifeboats yelling “take me, take me,” right? Wrong! In fact, the wild animals resisted capture.

Many of the rescuers were scratched and bitten as they tried to corral the wild animals. When they were caught, the animals fought back even to the point of exhaustion. Others, rather than being captured, launched themselves into the rising water and ended up dying. In their superior knowledge, the men knew what was best, but the animals were unable to understand.

When I read this account, I thought that in many ways, this is our story. Questions might be asked, “What do we do when difficulties, tragedies and problems come our way? What are the common reactions to the rising waters of life? What do people do when their islands get smaller?”

Sad to say, many people follow the example of the animals. For these folks, their first reaction is to solve their problem by climbing to higher ground. That may work for a while, but if the pressure keeps building, they find that plan is just a temporary solution.

For other folks, when the pressures of life build, they, like the animals, try to swim for it. They may use artificial means to keep their head above water, like drugs or alcohol. But this too soon proves fruitless.

This is where the “In God we trust” saying comes into play. It is at these times – as we hear of nations warring against nations, people wounding and killing each other in our streets and economic turmoil staring us in the face – that God, our heavenly father, stands ready to be our rock in times of trouble.

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 18, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge.” Having been through many tough times, he knew where to turn for refuge.

The book of Hebrews tells us, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God has spoken to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his son … .” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Our loving God, who stands ready to lift us up on a rock, showed the love of his people as he saved the Israelites at the Red Sea (Exodus 14). He carried the people of the Old Testament on his back (so to speak), providing for their needs and guiding them on their journeys. And today, he encourages us by his word.

Jesus calls out to us, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The Psalmist, knowing the ever-present power and strength of our God, writes in Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore we will not fear even though the earth gives way and the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.”

So, as we walk life’s journey, we can walk bold and confidently because “In God we trust.”

The Rev. Phil Schamehorn is interim pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ligonier. If you are interested in submitting a column (750 words or less), send it to Terri Richardson, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email Please include your name, religious organization and a phone number where you can be reached. For more information, call 461-8304.