Fifteen years ago today, I hit rock bottom in life. I was fired from my job and had no path forward. It was the last straw in losing pretty much everything over a six month period. I was at the bottom of a dark hole with no way out. I had no direction in life or purpose. I had just been through six months of hell and i wasn’t sure i wanted to continue living. I went home, laid on my living room floor in the fetal position and wept. I told God that i couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t go on. I was emotionally drained and was out of strength. I couldn’t find anything to hold onto in life. That’s when I heard God say, “Finally! Are you ready to try things my way?”
It was a crucial moment in my life. Everything I had built had crumbled, but I determined with God’s help, I would claw my way out of that hole. It took a lot years, a lot of prayers and a lot of faith, but God lead me away from that place in life. Up to that point, I had been fighting Him and His desires for my life. I was living how I wanted, but agreed to do things His way. I held onto a promise He gave me that said my ending would actually be a beginning, and if I trusted Him, He would lead me into more joy than I had ever known. Fifteen years later, He has continued to fulfill that promise.
Psalm 32:8-9 says, “I hear the Lord saying, ‘I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide. So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before. Don’t make me tug you and pull you along. Just come with me!’” (TPT) I believe God is close to every one of us trying to lead us down His path for us, but too many of us fight Him like i did. God wants to take you where you’ve never been to experience what you can’t imagine, but you have to let Him lead. You have to put down the reins and give Him control. Are you willing to do that starting today?
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In 2 Chronicles 14, the Ethiopians brought a million man army up against Israel. King Asa only had about half of that. He didn’t wait for the Battle to come to them either. He rallied his troops and went out to meet the Ethiopian army. After he got to the battlefield, he prayed, “O GOD, you aren’t impressed by numbers or intimidated by a show of force once you decide to help: Help us, O GOD; we have come out to meet this huge army because we trust in you and who you are. Don’t let mere mortals stand against you!” (MSG) The next verse says that the Lord defeated the Ethiopian army right in front of Asa.
As I read this story, I was reminded that many times when we look at the battles we face, we are outnumbered, outgunned, and often surrounded with seemingly no way out. I’m sure Asa’s scouts told him how big the Ethiopian army was, but he still showed up for battle. Half of any your victory is simply showing up for the battle. When everything inside screams run, we’ve got to show up or we’ll miss seeing what God can and will do. If we want to be victorious, we can’t run from our problems. We’ve got to face them head on.
The other thing I was reminded of is that our battles are not our own. Asa fully trusted God to bring the victory. He didn’t look at the battlefield through his eyes. He saw it through God’s eyes. When he prayed, he already saw the victory because he trusted in what God would do. You and I need to change the lenses that we look at things through. Victory isn’t brought about by our might or our power, but by God’s Spirit. You shouldn’t be intimidated by how big your problems are. They should be intimidated by how big our God is. Show up, pray and watch God fight for you.
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When I was young, my dad taught me to play chess. I love the strategy of chess, the need to think ahead, and the anticipation of your opponent’s next move. What I don’t like about chess is when my King is on the run, and is being backed into a check mate situation. I don’t really like to lose, and in chess, you can usually see it happen before it does. Being powerless to help in any situation makes me feel a lot like that. I don’t see a way out, so I’m powerless to help. In real life situations, I get weak and tired from worrying about the outcome, especially if I can’t see the way to victory.
Maybe you’ve been there to. You’ve either been in or are in a situation where there’s no clear path to victory. You feel powerless over the outcome, and you’re tired from all the stress and mental exhaustion. When we are tired and mentally exhausted, our immune system grows weaker. We become more susceptible to illness. I think that why in Proverbs 17:22 Solomon wrote, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (NLT).
I know can be hard to have a cheerful heart when everything points to your defeat. That’s why I love the promises God gives in Isaiah 40. Verse 29 says, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” It’s in our weakness that God gives His power to us. It’s when we are powerless over the outcome that God gives us the strength to continue. We don’t have to see the outcome 5 moves in advance. We can trust God that His will, will be done. We can trust that whatever comes our way can be used for our good.
If you’re tired, weak, and exhausted from trying to find the solution, give it to God. Lay it down on the altar and give Him control of the outcome. Your worrying about it isn’t going to solve it. He wants to give you strength and the power to handle it though. The final verse in Isaiah 40 reminds us, “But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” It starts with putting your trust in the Lord.
Recently I was working on our dishwasher. At one point, I got on my knees and looked up. As I looked around the kitchen, I thought, “This is the way my four year old looks at the kitchen.” My mind went back to when I worked at a childcare center. The owner used to make us crawl around on our hands and knees so we could see what the kids saw. We could then move things into their view and know their perspective.
I think that’s what Jesus did when He came in the flesh. He only had one view of earth and that was from the top down, just like I had in the childcare center. Until He walked this land, He had never imagined where Heaven was. He had never looked up and experienced man’s view of the heavens and understood how powerless we feel to reach them. He truly felt our limitations and feelings of insignificance in this universe.
Hebrews 2:17 says, “Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God” (NLT). Now that He has our perspective, He can be our greatest intercessor. Since He came from Heaven, walked the earth, and returned to Heaven, He can empathize with our prayers and speak to God the Father on our behalf.
The next verse says, “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.” He became like us to help us. He humbled Himself, got on His hands and knees so to speak, to become frail like us so He could fully understand us. We can’t pray and tell God He doesn’t understand because He does. We can’t hide our emotions because He’s experienced them. So whatever you’re going through, be open and honest in your prayers, and let Jesus help you through it. He’s been in your shoes.
I always love “Throwback Thursday” on social media. Lots of people post pictures of themselves in the past. People laugh and comment about the clothes, hair or where they were. It brings back good memories of a time gone by, but it also is a reminder that we aren’t who we used to be. Times change and so do we. It’s so gradual and slow that we hardly notice it until we do something like a “Throwback Thursday”. When we do that, it becomes very clear how much we have changed and how far we’ve come.
I believe it’s also a good practice to do a Spiritual Throwback Thursday. It’s important to look back and see all the great things God has done for us and to see what He’s brought us through. Times of reflection help us to remember where we once were. They help us to relive the pain and hopelessness of the moment just before God came through. They build our faith so that we can face even harder times in the future. God is faithful. What He’s done in the past, He will do today and in the future.
In Lamentations 3:19-32, Jeremiah reflects on where he had been. He wrote, “I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lost mess, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all – oh how well I remember – the feeling of hitting bottom. (MSG)” In his time of sorrow, he took time to think back to how he felt in those times of despair he had already faced. He didn’t do it to make himself feel worse in his current condition. He did it so he could have hope.
In verses 21 and 22, he said, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends! (NLT)” No matter how bad life gets, you can still dare to have hope because God is faithful. Things may look worse than you’ve ever seen them. The sky may be darker than it has ever been. You may be facing the most hopeless situation, but one thing remains: the faithful love of the Lord never ends. You can hold on to His faithfulness no matter how bleak things might seem.
The writer then spends the next several verses reminding himself of the lessons he’s learned in trusting God. He gives himself a pep talk and says in verses 31 and 32, “For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He also shows great compassion because of the greatness of His unfailing love.” Sometimes we have to give ourselves a pep talk too. David did it when he asked himself, “Why so downcast, o my soul? Put your hope in God.” If doing a Spiritual Throwback Thursday was good enough for Jeremiah and David, it’s good enough for us. It’ll help you to remember the faithful love of the Lord.