My son is very inquisitive. He is always asking why or how. In most cases, the answer is above his ability to understand. I try to tell him to let it go, but sometimes he just keeps at it. So I tell him. His nose scrunched up, his eyes squint and he looks confused in those moments. Then he starts asking more questions trying to understand. I’ll just keep going down the rabbit hole with him until he gives up or I can think of an easy explanation that he can understand so we can move on.
I’m not so sure that we are so different when it comes to God. When things happen in our lives, we ask God why or how. What I’ve found is so many times the answer is beyond our ability to understand. It’s tough for us to let it go too. I’m a person that needs to know the why behind things before I do them. If I don’t know the why, I don’t understand the importance or urgency that needs to be behind what I’ve been asked to do.
When God asks me to go somewhere or do something, that’s usually my first question. For me, it doesn’t come from a lack of faith or disobedience. I just like to know why before I do something. With that in mind, Proverbs 20:24 speaks to me in regards to when God asks me to do something or go somewhere. It says, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” (NLT)
If we believe God truly directs our steps, then we need to trust His reasons that are beyond our ability to understand. How much time and energy do we waste while we question God? I know He’s patient, it I bet sometimes He just wishes we’d simply obey and trust that He sees the bigger picture and is working out things for our good even though we can’t see it or understand it at the moment. We need to let go of trying to understand everything and just obey.
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Rain is something we need, but don’t really want. We’ve given it a negative connotation too. It started when we were children singing the song, “Rain, Rain, go away. Come again another day.” Rain disrupts the times of sunshine and happiness that we feel. When it’s rainy outside, we say it’s gloomy. We think of the gray clouds and associate them with depression. Rain changes our path, our timing and our plans. It messes things up for us so we resist it. We forget that rain is a necessary part of life. We forget all the good that it does.
I’ve got several friends right now who are experiencing rain in their lives. Several friends have had loved ones pass away unexpectedly. I’ve got a couple of friends who can’t seem to find a job. I’ve got a few friends whose lives have been turned upside down because of choices their spouse made. For them, it seems like the rain just keeps coming. It feels like their lives are being flooded with only negative things. As I’ve thought about all their situations, Matthew 5:45 came to mind. It says, “It rains on the just and the unjust.”
I’ve read or heard that scripture my whole life. I was always under the impression that it meant that bad things happen to Christians and non Christians alike because I associated rain with bad times. When I read it in context and then in several versions and interpretations of the original Greek, the Message Bible stood out. It said, “This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone regardless.” The times of rain in our lives are meant to nourish us. Just like our yards, lakes and crops need rain for nourishment, so do our lives.
When bad things happen, it usually pushes us closer go God. We spend more time in prayer. We take the time to talk to God and to read His Word to try to find answers. Days of sunshine rarely push us to spend time with God, but rain does. When we go a long time without rain or without spending time with a God, we go through a drought and that isn’t healthy. If you’re going through times of rain in your life right now, don’t pray for it to go away. Instead thank God for the nourishment and for the shelter He provides
In II Chronicles 20, a huge army invaded southern Israel. The king and all the people were terrified because they defeated several strongholds easily. He begged God for help and asked others to pray with him. It sounds a lot like any one of us when we are facing something that seems impossible to beat. Fear is our first response, then we beg God for help. I believe what follows in this story is something we can all learn from in these moments in life.
The first thing that happened was King Jehoshaphat got like minded people together, fasted and prayed. We are not to fight these battles alone. Fear’s goal is to intimidate you and to push you into seclusion. Don’t let it! There is strength in numbers and in fasting. Get a group of people around you who can fight on their knees and touch God for you. This first step is critical if you’re going to win an impossible battle.
In verses 15-17, God answered those praying. The Word of the Lord came back saying, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (NLT). Things only seem impossible when God is not in the equation. The battles we face are not our own, but they are God’s. We don’t have to be afraid or discouraged at the sheer impossibility of anything that comes our way because God goes before us.
As the army of Israel approached the battlefield, Jehoshaphat spoke in verse 20 and reminded them, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in His prophets and you will succeed.” Faith will help us to stand firm when standing is all we can do. We can trust in God, and in His Word, to get the courage to keep standing in the face of impossibilities. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to continue to trust God and His Word so we can see the victory.
Finally, the king appointed singers to praise God and he sent them out in front. At the very moment they began to sing, the Lord gave victory. We need to be able to praise God in advance of victory. We need to honor Him when all else seems to be going wrong. Praise is powerful. It activates our faith and moves our God. If you can’t find it in you to praise, play praise music until you do. Victory is dependent on God, not us. We can praise Him for that. Our impossible battles are no match for a God who says all things are possible.
Have you ever tried to get something done, but kept getting distracted? The distractions weren’t there until you decided to start. The moment you engage the project, it seems that the whole world falls apart. Someone calls and needs something right away. You realize you forgot to do something else that you were supposed to do. What you’re using to complete the project breaks or quits working. It gets pretty frustrating doesn’t it?
I gotta say, it happens to all of us and I’m not sure why. Then there’s the whole procrastination thing. When you’ve got a big project you need to be working on, sometimes starting it is the hardest thing to do. Where do I begin? What if I get into this and the distractions start? How long is this going to take? Do I have time to complete it? Why do today what I can put off till tomorrow? We question ourselves and talk ourselves out if starting. It’s easy to do, and I’m pretty sure I’m the king of it.
As Solomon was becoming king himself, his father David handed him the blueprints for the Temple. It was a daunting project that would require years to complete with thousands of moving parts. Combine that with trying to run a country and you’ve got both distractions and procrastination creeping at your door. In I Chronicles 28:20, David encouraged him by saying, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you” (NLT).
Let that be an encouragement to you today. Do the work that you’re called to do. Push past the procrastination and stay focused through the distractions. Don’t be afraid of the outcome or discouraged by what others may say. You are uniquely qualified to do what God has called you to do. If He didn’t think you could do it, He wouldn’t have called you to it. Be strong, courageous and confident. Take your next step today and trust that God is with you and will be faithful to help you complete it.
I once knew someone who had an interesting answer for the question, “How are you?” No matter what was going on, after he told you, he would say, “But God is still on His throne.” He could have lost his job, he could have been sick, or was going through a bad time in his life. No matter what it was, he would always add, “But God is still on a His throne,” to the sentence. It was always a peculiar answer to me, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to understand it more.
For him, it was about keeping things in perspective. He could wallow in the negative things happening in his life or he could admit they were happening, and then remind himself and others that God was still in control. He knew that God was aware of what was happening in His life, and that phrase would encourage himself and others when he said it. I’m begging to think he picked it up from King David.
In Psalm 102, David is talking about all the things happening to him. For 11 verses he speaks of wasting away, pain in his body, insomnia, being taunted by others, uncontrollable crying, and being depressed. He speaks of all the things going wrong in his life, then he changes his tune in verse 12. He says, “Yet you, God, are sovereign till, always and ever sovereign” (MSG). He was saying, “But you God are still on your throne.”
It’s a good practice to get into especially if you’re going through a difficult time right now. If things aren’t adding up in your life or happening as quickly as you’d like, remind yourself that God is still on His throne. All is not lost. He is working things out for your good. He will give you the strength to endure as he develops character in you. Nothing has the power to completely overtake you as long as He is on His throne.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that we all need some encouragement in one way or another. Some of us need encouragement to get up and face the day. Others need encouragement to try one more time. Some receive love through words of encouragement. I also think we all need our faith encouraged at times because we all face difficult times that challenge what we believe. The great news is that all of us are capable of encouraging someone else.
Each of us can send a text, a meme, make a phone call, or talk to someone today to encourage them. It can be as simple as, “I’m praying for you.” It could be, “Smile. God loves you.” It doesn’t have to be complicated. There are a lot of people who struggle this time of year and they need your words of encouragement. Today, ask God to put people in your path and on your heart who needs words of encouragement, then speak to them what He puts on your heart. B an encourager today even if you need encouragement yourself. You’ll be surprised how it encourages you too.
Here are some Bible verses on encouragement.
1. But those who proclaim God’s message speak to people and give them help, encouragement, and comfort.
1 Corinthians 14:3 GNT
2. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
Ephesians 4:29 NLT
3. Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 AMPC
4. The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.
Proverbs 10:21 NLT
5. Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us, in order that we might have hope through the patience and encouragement which the Scriptures give us.
Romans 15:4 GNT
I don’t know of a greater friendship in the Bible than that of David and Jonathan. I Samuel 18 says their souls were knit together. Jonathan knew he was next in line to be king, but also knew that God had anointed David for that role. He gladly gave up his rights to the throne for his friend. His loyalty was to what God wanted and not what he was entitled to, and it showed in his actions.
When Saul was desperately trying to kill David, Jonathan would warn him. He helped David escape. On one such occasion in I Samuel 23, Saul was trying to find him, but God hid David. In verse 16 it says, “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God” (NLT). To me, that’s what real friends do. They go to their friend in need and encourage them to trust God and to stay strong in their faith.
David didn’t have to tell Jonathan he was tired of living in caves, constantly having to hide, or that he was hungry. He didn’t have to tell him that he was doubting that God knew his situation and was telling God to wake up. As a friend, Jonathan proactively went to David and encouraged him. He prayed for him and stood by him in the struggle even if it meant his own father would kill him. He didn’t care about the consequences to his own life.
I would venture to say that many of us don’t have a friend like that and aren’t willing to go to that extreme for someone. However, each one of us can encourage another friend to stay strong in their faith. Each one of us can go to someone in need to stand in the gap for them and to pray for them when they don’t have the strength or faith to do it themselves. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity” (AMP). Be like Jonathan and love your friends in the good times and in the bad. Be there for them in adversity and encourage them when they’re weak. God will honor you if you do.