June 29, 2010
Fresh Hope for the Journey
Psalm 40:1-3 "I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God."
Friend To Friend
Hard times will come and the darkness will find each one of us. At some point in life, we all will face some kind of pit. It may be a pit that we have dug with our own hands of wrong choices or it could be a pit that has been uniquely designed for us by the enemy. What can we do to find hope in the midst of the darkness?
Step 1: Identify the purpose of the pit.
Step 2: Choose a response to the pit.
We have several choices about how to deal with the pain and darkness in life. We can become bitter and blame God for the pain or we can give up and wallow in the mire and mud of that slimy pit. I am guilty of plastering a smile on my face, gritting my teeth and denying that the pit even exists. However, the choice we should make is to trust God, knowing He will deliver us in and from the pit. The Apostle Paul was an expert when it came to squeezing a seed of victory and truth out of every tough circumstance.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 "So that I would not become too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me, a painful physical problem was given to me. I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you.'"
Paul was not sinning by asking God to remove his affliction. Paul may not have understood what God was doing, but he chose to accept it because he knew God's heart. Paul may not have understood God's process but he trusted God.
Step 3: Embrace the power of the pit.
2 Corinthians 12:9 "But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.' So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ's power can live in me."
God was sending Paul a message of hope. It is important to note the tense of the verb in this verse, "But he said to me" can be translated "He (God) has once-for-all said to me." It is an eternal promise.
The story is told of a business man who was selling warehouse property that had been empty for months. Since vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows and left garbage, the building needed expensive repairs. As the owner showed a prospective buyer the property, he was quick to explain that he would make any repairs needed. The buyer said, "Forget the repairs. When I buy this place, I'm going to build something completely different. I don't want the building - just the site."
God's grace turns defeat into victory, tragedy into triumph and weakness into strength by providing real power over circumstances. People without Christ can muster up enough courage and human strength to get through a trial. God will not only enable us to survive the hard times, He wants us to thrive in and because of them. Paul used his pain and chose to make that pit work for him - and God's power was unleashed in Paul's life.
Step 4: Find joy in the pit.
2 Corinthians 12:9 "I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ's power can live in me."
Joy is not an earthly treasure but a heavenly gift from our loving Father who is committed to the joy of His children. I am convinced that God entrusts the greatest trials to those who will respond to them in the right way. Some of the most joyful people I know have suffered the most because they have learned not to live on explanations but on promises - the promises of God.
I love the story of the little girl who misquoted her favorite Bible verse, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have ever-laughing life." Jesus wants to give us a life of joy, pits and all. We need to remember that joy is the deeply-rooted confidence that God is in control and that our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outer circumstances. We can find joy in the pit.
Dr. Viktor Frankl, author of the book, Man's Search for Meaning, was imprisoned by the Nazis in World War II because he was a Jew. His wife, children and parents were killed in the Holocaust. As the Gestapo stripped away his clothes and cut off his wedding band, Victor said to himself, "You can take away my family and destroy everything I possess, but there is one thing that no person can ever take from me - my freedom to choose how I react to what happens to me."
Father, thank You that You are my strength and my joy at a time when I feel so weak, trapped in a pit of despair. By faith, I turn to You and seek Your forgiveness for the pride that blinds me to the hope I can find in You. Please help me to see Your hand at work in my life and even when I can't, give me the power to walk by faith and not by sight.
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
Read and memorize Psalms 40.
Record these verses in your journal.
When the darkness comes, remember each promise and count on God's grace.
More From The Girlfriends
I really hope and pray that these devotions have met a need in your life. We are living in difficult and dark times for so many people. If you are one of them, we want you to realize that you are not alone. Maybe God wants to use you to encourage someone else battling the darkness. Know that we are praying for you and walking with you - over every mountain - through every valley - girlfriends in God. Blessings.
Need help learning how to study the Bible? Check out Mary's E-Book Bible Studies that you can download for your personal use and/or for a small group study.
Are you having trouble dealing with stress? You can't eliminate stress, but you can learn to control stress before it controls you. Mary's book Escaping the Stress Trap transforms the promises of the Twenty-third Psalm into easy-to-implement, practical steps that will hand you the keys to stress management. Check it out!
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