When I was younger and I wanted to take a trip, I would break out my Rand McNally map and plot a course. I would take the map with me so I could follow along or use it if I got lost. Today, most of us use an app with GPS to get us where we’re going. We plug in an address and off we go blindly following wherever it leads. There have been times when I questioned where it was taking me and I thought I knew better. I was wrong. Even now, I question it, but I’ve learned to give it the benefit of the doubt because it sees what’s coming ahead and knows what path to take.
After David was anointed king, I’m sure he thought he knew the path God was going to take to get him to the palace. It wasn’t that long until the king called and invited him to the palace without knowing David would be the next king. Then the path took an unexpected turn. David was on the run and had to leave the country God said he would rule over. He found himself living in caves instead of in the luxury of palaces. He didn’t question God’s path to get him there even though it was a different path than he would have chosen.
From the cave, he penned this in Psalms 142:3, “When my spirit was overwhelmed and weak within me [wrapped in darkness], You knew my path” (AMP). No matter how dark that cave was, he trusted that God knew his path. That’s something we can all learn from. Sometimes God’s path will lead you through some dark time, but even though you walk through the valley of the shadow, God will be with you. He uses those times to develop us, to prove His faithfulness and to have us bring light into the darkness. Don’t turn from the path God is leading you down. He knows what’s ahead and is taking you on the best path for your future.
Photo by Enrique Alarcon on Unsplash
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.
Despite what some people would have you believe, being a Christian doesn’t mean everything in your life will be fixed. You won’t win every battle, get every promotion, get rich, be the most attractive, be admired by everyone or be free from problems and stress. Those are not promised to us for being a Christian. In fact, Jesus put it this way in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (NIV).
In my life, I’ve been defeated, hurt, abandoned, broke and sucker punched. Those things didn’t make me less of a Christian. Instead they revealed how deep God’s grace is. When I’ve lost battles I desperately wanted to win, I found the peace that passes understanding. When I hit rock bottom and all my hope was gone, I found a firm foundation on which I could rebuild. The hardest times in my life didn’t make me less of a Christian. I would argue they made me a stronger one.
No matter how defeated I’ve been or how hopeless I’ve felt, God has used the struggle to strengthen me and my faith. He has brought healing to my deepest wounds and restored what the locust have stolen. His grace has been sufficient when my strength was gone. His love has endured through every trial and test. When my faith has failed, He was graciously patient with me and restored it. When I’ve lost battles I should have won, He gave me the strength to fight again.
Psalm 136:23 says, “He did not forget us when we were defeated; his love is eternal” (GNT). Of all the promises in God’s Word, this is one I really hang on to. When I’m defeated, He will not forget me. He won’t abandon me and leave me to drown in my self pity. His eternal love will restore my soul, fit the broken pieces back together again and be able to use me no matter how badly I’ve failed. In my weakness, I’ve found that He is strongest in my life. No matter what you face or are going through, God will not forget you. That’s a promise you can hold on to.
I’ve always heard that each one of us are either going through a difficult time, coming out of a difficult time, or are headed for one. Those seasons are a part of life, but that’s exactly what they are – seasons. They don’t last forever. I know that when I’m going through them, it sure feels like it’s never going to end. I start off questioning God as to why I’m going through it, but after a while, when it doesn’t let up, I start questioning God and His intentions. Has He forgotten me? Does He even care? Does He hear me?
David struggled with the same thoughts. I think that’s why we connect with the Psalms so we’ll. David was real. He didn’t hold back what he was thinking. He laid it all out there for God and us to read. How could he be so vulnerable? How could he be so open about what he was thinking and feeling? I don’t know, but I’m glad he did. It let’s me know that I’m not alone in my thoughts and feelings in difficult times. His vulnerability has allowed so many of us to be the same way in front of God.
One of the people who learned to be that way was Asaph. He was one of the top musicians in David’s time. He wrote several of the Psalms. In Psalm 77, he questioned, “Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will He never again be kind to me? Is His unfailing love gone forever? Have His promises permanently failed?” (NLT). Tough questions that I’m sure we all think on difficult times. While he struggled with these questions, he found a solution to them.
In verse 11, he writes, “But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.” he then recalls all that the Lord has done for him and Israel. He remembers that there are seasons and this won’t last forever, but most importantly, He remembers the character of God. He does not forget us. He doesn’t leave us in difficult seasons forever. He is mighty to save, and He will come to your rescue. He’s done it before and He’ll do it again because He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.
One of my favorite people in the Bible is Gideon. I’m reminded of his story so often because I find myself in need of all the lessons it teaches. In Judges 6, the Bible explains that times were bad in Israel. The Midianites were destroying crops, killing animals and harassing the Israelites. There wasn’t anything anyone could do to stop them. The Israelites lived in fear because of all the bad things that were happening. If they had grain, they had to thresh it in hiding. If they had goats, they had to keep them hidden. Anything in the open would be taken.
Gideon was threshing his grain in the bottom of a wine press so no one would see him. An angel appeared and called out to him, “Mighty hero, The Lord is with you.” Gideon, who was hiding because he was afraid of the Midianites, didn’t think twice about the angel calling him a hero. What caught his attention was that the angel said, “The Lord is with you.” He took a double take at the angel and must have thought this guy didn’t know much. How could he say that when so many bad things were happening?
He confronted the angel and asked, “If The Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” Have you ever felt that way? When everything in life is going wrong and you feel abandoned by God. It’s an uncomfortable place. A dark place. Fear of the future grips your mind. You find yourself constantly worrying about things that you have no control over. You feel like God has forgotten you or worse, abandoned you in need. Your mind tells you that God doesn’t care. That He doesn’t see you in your pain.
In this verse, the angel reminds us that God’s presence in our lives isn’t proven by our circumstances. Our lives can be falling apart and God can still be with us. We’ve somehow come to believe that God is with us when things are good and has abandoned us when times are bad. His presence is with you no matter what. He is with you even when you can see His hand or feel His presence. He is with you when your life is so dark that you can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. He is not only with you, He’s preparing you for greatness in those times. Greatness doesn’t come from an easy life. It’s forged in the darkness and in the fire.
Whatever you are facing today, I say to you, “Mighty hero, The Lord is with you!” You may not feel like a hero, but you’re still standing through everything. You may not feel like The Lord is with you, but He has never left your side. He has been standing next to you through everything you have faced and everything you will face because He will not abandon you. He will not forsake you. He will not forget you. He will deliver you when the timing is right. He will lead you to better times when you have learned all He wants to show you in the dark. Stand strong today because The Lord is with you.