NOURISHED, LIKE THE BABY BIRDS

We may become weak and weary in our faith. Without spiritual nourishment we fade away.

Spring is my favorite time of the year. The first flowers peek through the ground and new buds form on the trees. I know the world around me is coming back to life. In anticipation, I look forward to the warming temperatures after the cold and often dreary winter. The robins get busy digging for worms. The air is filled with the enchanting melodies of the songbirds. My hearts sings along with them.

Many spring seasons we have been hosts to a nest of robins atop the light fixture outside our patio door. It’s a great spot; under the porch roof and high enough for protection from danger. This year was no different. Mother robin wasted no time in building a sturdy nest in which to lay her eggs. We saw her come and go. She often sat on the porch railing to make sure the coast was clear. Soon we could hear the tiny chirps of the hatchlings.

HEADS POP UP, MOUTHS WIDE

If they are alone in the nest, the sound of our door opening quickly prompts their tiny heads to pop up, their mouths wide open. They know that their mama is returning to the nest with food. Without it they will grow weak and die. They trust her for their nourishment to grow and develop.

WEAK AND WEARY IN THE FAITH

In the same way, we need food and nourishment, but even more important is our necessity for the spiritual food that helps us grow and thrive in our relationship with God. Without it, we become weak and weary in our faith. Spiritual nourishment comes from the God’s Word.

INVITATION TO RELATIONSHIP

The Bible is God’s invitation to a relationship with Him. It is inerrant and the final authority on all matters of faith; our guide for living in a way that honors God. He offers this food abundantly and available to us at any time. We need only to open our hearts and minds to receive it. We are commanded to drink it in. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2). In Deuteronomy chapter 8 we read that God fed the Israelites with manna, “that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord”(v3).

SAVOR EVERY BITE

Like dining at a fine food restaurant, we are to savor every bite, taking our time to enjoy it. We are to “chew” on it, to meditate and consider how we can apply it to our lives. We need to relish God’s word, making it a part of us as it strengthens and sustains us.

In the last several days, our baby birds left the nest, but we’ve discovered that there are 4 new eggs in the nest waiting to hatch. I’ll once again be able to see tiny heads pop up with mouths wide open, eagerly awaiting some food.

Are you seeking daily spiritual nourishment, enthusiastically anticipating your food from God’s Word? Is your heart and mind wide open, ready to take in and apply the truths He reveals to you? Without it, believers grow weak and cannot grow. God wants you to grow! Dig in and be nourished!

YOU HAVE NOT PASSED THIS WAY BEFORE

Did you ever realize that God rarely ever tells His children the details of the future?

In 1988 our family moved to Illinois so my husband could go to seminary. Homesickness conquered my heart. “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayers were not cutting it.  What kind of spiritual life sustains you in crisis? Afterall, weren’t we “doing God’s work”? At the time, I didn’t realize God would do whatever He wanted, regardless of our personal plans. We had given God permission to do bring pain into our lives.

THE SURPRISES

We experienced lots of surprises. The sale of our house was supposed to carry us through most of Bill’s education. The funds only lasted the first year. Our new home was in Zion, IL and it certainly was not the Zion associated with heaven. We had given away our church home, our close ties with family and friends, and the confidence we had from prior ministries. Pastor Bill now worked as Janitor Bill. Teacher Jacqui who had excelled at working with young children found herself way out of her league teaching middle school and high school students. Our two sons had to build an entirely new world of friends. Life was hard.

DANIEL PRAYED, NO MATTER WHAT

Did you ever realize that God rarely ever tells His children the details of the future? Daniel and his friends knew that God would eventually bring exiled their people back to Israel, but God neglected to tell them that lions, a furnace, and tests would abound. One thing that especially pops out when one reads the Book of Daniel – Daniel prayed, no matter what.

A PRAYER LIFE THAT GREW

The reward for my struggles, in 1988-1991 amidst all the pain, was a prayer life that exponentially expanded into rich and deep conversations with God.  There was nowhere else to turn.  I began, out of desperation, to really focus on my relationship with God.  5 AM marked the time when I commenced going for long walks in the dark, crying out to God and asking for His guidance.  I felt liked the Israelites when they had to trust God as they walked across the Jordan. God commented, “you have not passed this way before.” 

A TIME TO MOVE FORWARD

So, in all the pain you may currently be going through, are you consciously keeping your eyes on God with the expectation that He will direct you since “you have not passed this way before”?  This may involve life changes such as intentionally spending more time talking to God and less time complaining to others about what is happening.  More actions carried out with the courage and wisdom of Jesus and less behaviors determined by your fears.  This is not the time for cookie cutter prayers, this is the time to move forward, deeper into the Christ Who knows “you have not passed this way before.” 

LISTEN WITH AN UNDIVIDED HEART

Ruth Haley Barton in “Sacred Rhythms” writes: “As long as we continue to reduce prayer to occasional piety we keep running away from the mystery of God’s jealous love.” I wanted to run away from this painful love.  Barton continues: “let God’s creative love touch the most hidden places of your being and …to listen with attentive, undivided heart to the inner movement of the Spirit of Jesus, even when that Spirit was leads to places you would rather not go.”  In the dark at 5 AM I began to let God pry my fingers off those things I had previously treasured.  I began to beg God for what He wanted to transpire in my life, as hard and painful as it was.  The floor had been ripped out, the roof blown off. God wanted to build my life in a new closer way. 

I CAME TO THE CROSS

Barton continues: “We come to Him with empty hands and empty heart, having no agenda.  Half the time we don’t even know what we need; we just come with a sense of our own spiritual poverty.”  I just dumped all of it, every awful shaming moment of it all, and came to the cross with bended knee.  It was in the dark in Illinois that I learned to let God do whatever He wanted, no matter the future. I had “not passed this way before.” 

DON’T BE A SITTING DUCK

You don’t need additional Scriptures; you need to begin taking seriously what you already have.

Have you heard the commercial claiming if you ingest their fruit & vegetable supplements you will “feel better than you have had in years”? Regardless of your existing diet, “you are not receiving sufficient nutrients for optimal health”. By consuming their products, you will obtain the ticket golden for longevity. Bottom line is: YOU NEED MORE for these last hours. They have you pegged as a sitting duck.

DO WE HAVE EVERYTHING WE NEED?

In I John 2:18-27, John gives a warning for believers who think they need MORE. He warns of teachers who tell believable lies. “Even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” Satan aims to get believers off track and useless for the Kingdom. John Piper summarizes the claims of the antichrists’: “We have the Spirit and can tell you some crucial information that you have been missing about Christ.” Their goal is to want us to think that we don’t have everything we need for these days.

WHAT WE HAVE BEEN GRANTED

The Apostle Peter writes: “For His (Christ’s) divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.” (II Peter 1:3-4) Note the verb tense: “has granted”. This action has already taken place. Everything you need is offered by God Himself. When people have no theological depth and have not submitted to Christ working in their lives, they are sitting ducks for the antichrists. Do you know what a sitting duck is? Someone or something very easy for an enemy to shoot or attack.

EASY PICKINGS FOR FALSE TEACHERS

During the 1,000 years, before the Protestant Reformation, average men and women had very little clue as to what the Bible said. They were sitting ducks. Without copies of Scripture in their own languages, the people had to totally rely on their local priest to tell them what they should or should not believe. They were easy pickings for false teachers.

God brought to the scene a man by the name of William Tyndale. Tyndale translated the Bible into English so that common people could read the words of God. When a bounty was put on Tyndale’s head, God brought another man, John Rogers, who rescued Tyndale’s translation. Rogers further edited it so that we could eventually have the Book we today may carelessly disregard.

DANGEROUS WORDS

Why were both Tyndale and Rogers murdered? Because they put “dangerous” words into the hands of everyday people. They didn’t give people new words of God; they gave them something ancient which could powerfully change their lives since it was now available in their own language.

TAKE SERIOUSLY WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE

Your Bible has the words of God. The Apostle John refers to “anointing”. Ray Stedman explains, this as “an illumination of the mind and the heart, and a deep persuasion from the Holy Spirit. It involves intense powers of persuasion, it is a compelling thing, but it is not an impartation of knowledge. It is not a case of the Holy Spirit giving information which is not recorded in the Bible; it is a taking of the Scriptures and confirming them.” You don’t need additional Scriptures; you need to begin taking seriously what you already have.

DON’T BE A SITTING DUCK

As for the bestselling supplement’s claims for additional health benefits? Their ads changed when lawsuits popped up. The website’s disclaimer currently states that the product “isn’t intended to treat or cure any diseases.” In contrast, God’s Word treats and cures our diseased hearts. Don’t be a sitting duck. We don’t need extra revelations by teachers who claim new and additional words from God. Regularly ingest what’s already graciously been given by God Himself. Pull down that ancient Book and begin reading it today!

For extra encouragement read about Tyndale and Rogers.

THE HEALING ROOM

The patient is not afraid. It’s operation time. He is healing her. It is good

Nestled in the arms of the recliner.  Legs outstretched in front; body tilted back. She can see laid out to the left of her chair are the doctor’s tools. Some of the instruments are rather sharp, even fearsome, but the patient is not afraid. It’s operation time. He is healing her. It is good.

The Doctor’s favorite scalpel is a battered and marked up Bible.  The patient spends a lot of time with this book; writing notes upon notes in the margins regarding things he points out to her during their sessions. Sometimes she takes the words and comments to heart; other times they get filed away until her wounds break open yet again. The Doctor remarks his patient is rather hard of hearing during some of their consultations. Maybe she also needs hearing aids?

The therapies are not convenient and often not comfortable. Keeping further infections at bay is critical. But healing comes from brokenness. This Surgeon will not turn her away, regardless of her illness. She can be made whole.

This operating room is sacred space. It is here, in the quiet, that God pulls her out of herself, away from her own worries and upheavals and into the Universe where He rules. She needs clarity, especially on those days when she wanders through His Book and it seems as dry as dirt (often a match for her own soul). His plans are far greater than her short attention span can fathom. Her home remedies are futile.

Just a warning, God’s work while she’s in the chair can be painful. There are numerous times when God has told her in no uncertain terms to repent, to eat humble pie, and to let go of prized projects. He nudges her to remember that He alone is the expert with the scalpel, not her. “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Despite the pain, this is the one place in the world where she knows she is guarded, protected and secure. Healing is possible. “Whoever dwells in the recliner of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91:1-2) In this space, she is consistently, heard, valued, and loved. She is safe in the Surgeon’s arms.

For suggested additional spiritual healing, try Sharon Garlough Brown’s book “Sensible Shoes”

STAND UP AND DANCE

I am a wounded healer who dances with a slight limp

For a month in 1623, John Donne and his doctors believed he was suffering (and likely dying) from the bubonic plague. Donne was able to do little more than write, which he did—journaling a series of meditations on his wrestling with God. He titled his work “Devotions”.

THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL

On reading “Devotions”, author Phillip Yancey reflected on his own season of weariness and wrote the book “Undone”. Yancey notes: “A measure of shame seems to accompany disability or illness. Donne experienced and wrote about such shame. My journaling expressed my own deep shame, a shame rooted in my belief that I was now weak, flawed, and a failure. This dark hovering cloud of shame is an innate shame in inconveniencing others for something that is neither your fault nor your desire.  Together, depression and anxiety are a two-headed monster. When depression, anxiety, and shame link arms, the days are a downward spiral.” 

DEPRESSION WANTS TO STAY

“Depression has a way of sitting down heavily on your back. It plans to stay a while.” (Ramon Presson)

A SEASON OF PURPOSE

It is easy to disregard a season of depression as being without purpose.  However, the Apostle Paul thought differently: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor 1:3-4).  

DANCE WITH A LIMP

I love the challenge of Henri Nouwen. He calls us to become “wounded healers“. He pronounces: “And if I am a wounded healer, who having fiercely wrestled with God, now dance with a slight limp, then so be it.”

Stand up and dance, no matter your season of unbalance.

HOLDING ON IN THE STORM

Claire is enduring an incredibly rough season.  Month after month she lives with pressure that doesn’t seem to let up.

Claire is enduring an incredibly rough season.  Month after month she lives with pressure that doesn’t seem to let up.  Her daughter Grace experienced a serious accident and Claire discovered herself overnight becoming nurse and fulltime babysitter to her grandchildren. In the chaos of taking care of her daughter’s household, Claire feels like she is shortchanging her other remaining grandchildren who also need her desperately due to family circumstances. Any time she has for one household, she is simultaneously needed in the other.

RUNNING ON FUMES

Claire runs on fumes. Her tank is empty. She forgets to eat. Already slim, it has gotten to the point where she now has also lost most of her muscle. When she gets to set foot in her own home, she just wants to sleep.

And did I add that the church Claire finally connected with turned out as dysfunctional as Claire’s own family? She thought she finally found a group of fellow believers, but the longer she attended, she realized the church was off base.

FEELING CHEWED UP?

Can you identify at all with Claire? Has your season been rough?  Feeling chewed up and spit out? Used and abused? Running on fumes and don’t know how to recover? Use this to begin your prescription for gradually discovering recovery.

A SOUL PRESCRIPTION

Psalm 91 (notes in italics are mine)

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

          Decide you are not going to live in the house of “victimhood” but you are going to decide to rest in the arms of God as your Victor

This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

          He alone (not those who make promises and never show) is refuge, place of safety and worthy of trust)

 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

          He is the rescuer, even when you don’t know you are in danger. He wants to protect you from the diseases of bitterness, resentment and hatred. His Word supplies the keys

 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

          You don’t have to sleep with nightmares of everything that can go wrong. You don’t have to dread the sun coming up

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. 15 When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. 16 I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

To you and the Claires everywhere who are drowning in circumstances, don’t give up. Call on God and decide to trust.  He wants to take care of you for eternity. Take the words of this Psalm, hold them as a banner over your heart, mind and soul. It might be dark tonight, but eventually the sun will come up.  Hold on.

Extra assignment? Listen to https://compelledpodcast.com/episodes/behind-the-scenes-hannah-overton

MY REPAIR SHOP

God pulls me out of myself, my own worries and upheavals into the Universe where He rules.  God speaks to me the best when I shut up and listen.

I am addicted to a British TV show called “The Repair Shop”. The show’s premise is that everyday people bring in family heirlooms which are then repaired and resuscitated for their owners by experts with a broad range of specialties. No one is charged for the work and people are jubilant to see previous pieces which have been mangled over the years, restored to beauty. I love to see beauty brought out of brokenness.

MY SOUL’S REPAIR SHOP

In my living room exists my own unique repair shop. In a corner sits a recliner which is not a family heirloom. It was a Costco special. Next to it is an adjacent couch, also not an heirloom. What makes the recliner special is its daily use.  I sit there and picture Jesus on the adjacent couch. The regular conversations that take place at my recliner have been golden. Beauty is created from brokenness.

THE TOOLS

To the left of my recliner are the tools:

  • My journal
  • Prayer Point” (a Bible reading guide published by Samaritan’s Purse)
  • Open Doors World Watch List 2024 (the top 50 countries I need to be praying for regarding persecution)
  • Valley of Vision” – a collection of Puritan prayers that are a great jumpstart for the days when I feel my prayers are rather dusty.

THE MOST VALUABLE TOOL

But the most valuable tool is my battered and marked up Bible.  I’ve run a lot of miles with it; written notes upon notes in the margins regarding things God has pointed out to me when I’m reading it. 

THE QUIET OF THE SHOP

I’m one of those people who need to have relative quiet while I’m at the shop. Total concentration is necessary. It’s not all about me. God voice needs to be clearly heard. Some days it is difficult when I’m wandering through Leviticus – it may seem dry as dirt (often a match for my soul).

God pulls me out of myself, my own worries and upheavals into the Universe where He rules.  God speaks to me the best when I shut up and listen. 

THE PLACE WHERE YOU MEET GOD

If you are already a believer (you have trusted Jesus Christ alone to make your life new) then having a Soul Repair Shop is one of the best things you can do. Your shop may look different than mine – better furniture, location, or it may even take place in a parked car.  Wherever, this is the place you meet God and implore Him to do His work. 

VISITING THE SHOP CAN BE PAINFUL

Just a warning, work in the Repair Shop can be a little painful. There have been numerous times where God has told me in no uncertain terms to repent, to eat humble pie, and to let go of prized projects. I have to keep remembering that He is the restoration expert, not me.

For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account.(Hebrews 4:12-13)

KEEP THAT DAILY APPOINTMENT

Except for the Word of God, the tools God uses in your Repair Shop may be a little different, but the main thing is to consistently permit Him to do His work.  That’s why it is vital to keep that daily appointment.  Do you want your broken parts made beautiful? Is it possible for God to make you clean?  Perhaps you also need to get addicted to “The Repair Shop”, but not the BBC version – God’s version.

MY FROG EXPERIENCE

Life was a mess but I didn’t realize that gradually I was being robbed of my ability to cope.  I just wanted the pain to stop.

In the middle of one of the darkest time periods of my life I had absolutely no hope that resolution would come quickly, or that it would ever come.  My car was approaching a busy intersection.  My light was red.  The thought quickly entered my mind, “Why don’t you just press the gas instead of the brake? If you get lucky enough, you just might be able to end all your pain in one fatal accident.” I didn’t hit the gas, but it did finally enter my brain the deepness and seriousness of my depression. 

FROG COOKING 101

How had I gotten to that point? There is the old story of how to cook a live frog. You place it in a pot of cold water (if you suddenly turn up the heat and bring the water to a boil, the frog will jump out immediately to escape the danger). However, if you begin with lukewarm water and gradually increase the temperature, the frog won’t perceive the danger.  It will remain in the pot, unaware, and eventually be cooked to death.

THE SAD NEW NORM

That’s the way it can be with depression.  It enters one’s story, but gradually becomes such a normal part of one’s life that this becomes the new norm. That was me driving through that intersection.

DEPRESSION ROBS

Depression slowly makes gains day to day.  It commits the crimes of robbery of wonders such as joy, peace, sleep, or the ability to just cope with regular life.  I was that frog in the pot – life was a mess but I didn’t realize that gradually I was being robbed of my ability to cope.  I just wanted the pain to stop.

DEPRESSION ISOLATES

The problem for many people who are massively depressed is that they don’t have someone true and faithful they can confide in.  Someone who will not only listen, but can be trusted to be upfront when the truth needs to be told but loving at the same time.  The only person I knew who I could confide in was stuck in the same mess as myself.  Depressed people are lonely and the depression just intensifies the isolation.

CHALLENGE FOR THE WEEK

So what is the challenge for this week? Avoid traffic intersections!!!! (Just kidding) Ask God for a friend.  Not just any old friend, a friend who loves Jesus totally and will extend to you the same grace that Jesus extends.  To find this friend (or friends) may mean you will have to get out of your comfort zone.  You may have to volunteer somewhere, begin attending a church, engage your neighbors in more than the “Hi” “Bye” typical conversations, or maybe make a phone call to someone who you used to be able to connect with.  Possibly none of these will work out for you – but what have you lost by trying???  Begin every day with the prayer, “Lord, please help me to begin being open to people and also lead me to someone I can help.”

DON’T STAY IN THE POT!

Try it and please let me know what happens. Don’t just stay stuck in the pot.

FREEFALL INTO PAIN

And then it happened. I bend over to pick up a pair of shoes from the floor and out goes my lower back.

How did I get myself here? An everyday work day, beginning with my ‘to do list’. Feeling the joy of accomplishing anything I wanted to. One of those goals was small: to have an afternoon winter nap, warm under a layer of heated covers, with my cats nestled up against my backside. Add a meal for a full tummy, a binge on YouTube of brainless scrolling and my checklist would be complete.

THE FALL

And then it happened. I bend over to pick up a pair of shoes from the floor and out goes my lower back. Holding on to the bathroom sink, I use all my strength trying to keep myself from falling. I try lowering myself down to my knees. My back muscles scream in pain. I let go of the sink. Fall to the bathroom floor. I have been in this fetal position before. With great reluctance, I attempt moving into a yoga position known as child pose to relax my muscles. My body is in a freefall of pain.

PLUMMETING BACKWARDS

On the floor, the spasms don’t allow movement of my legs or back. Yet, less than one foot from me is the young lady I came in to support. Did I mention that I am a caregiver? I find myself more helpless than her. My life is plummeting backwards over a cliff.

WHAT CAN I BE THANKFUL FOR?

Immediately I attempt switch to my gratitude list for my own sanity.  What can I be thankful for? Aha! There is another coworker within the area. Calling for help, I remind myself to just keep taking deep breaths. It takes everything not to shout at the top of my lungs: “Lord, take me to heaven now!” However, yelling out in pain could traumatize my client, so I suppress the cries welling up within me. My life is in freefall.

MY BODY IS STUCK

Medical treatments begin my very slow recovery. I get my winter nap, but not the nap of my dreams. From my seated vantage point, I longingly see my bed. I don’t dare get into the bed; I would not be able to get out of it. I sleep three weeks in a lazy chair with my legs elevated on a heating pad. I cannot bend over to touch my knees let alone my toes, and I cannot bend side to side at my waist. My body is stuck. I’m not falling, but I’m also not moving.

BEFORE….

Before all of this, I was doing so well with exercise class and keeping busy with church activities. Now, all progress has ceased. So many steps backward, from making headway in building a life that isn’t comprised only of my job.

1/2 STEP FORWARD?

Arthritis racks my lower spine and hips. I prepare myself for my first exercise class in a month. Maybe I can make 1/2 step forward? I am scared but this is my start. I will try, then I will rest. I will not push. I will not try to fix my body in one hour. I will continue to build the pieces back of the life I was slowly envisioning.  Maybe the results will be better than I imagined?

MY DECISION

Will I have another freefall? Maybe, but I also have a promise. ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’. (Jeremiah 29:11) Even though I am afraid, I am deciding to trust.

IS THE INEVITABLE ACTUALLY EVITABLE?

Hopelessness does have to be your deadend.

It’s no use.  I didn’t succeed before.  Nothing’s changed.  Why should I expect anything different? It’s inevitable. All of us have at one time or another had those thoughts run through our hearts.  It might have been for an hour, a day, a week, month, or even years.  There is nothing that Satan would like more than to convince believers that there is no hope. That is often a major component of depression.

HANNAH OVERTON’S STORY

Hannah Overton had given up hope. Her story is beyond “compelling” (a little nod to the podcast company).  Falsely accused of killing her 4-year-old foster son, Hannah was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.  This mother of six had to transition from being a homeschooling mother of six to being a resident of a maximum-security prison.  It became her new home address for seven years.  So many times, especially at the beginning, she was filled with resentment, depression. She became suicidal.  Most would think she was entitled to exiting this painful life. 

JOSEPH’S STORY

That’s probably exactly the same thought that tempted Joseph in the Book of Genesis when he was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, became a prison resident, and given a brief glimpse of hope (which was quickly shut down).  He spent thirteen years before the tide changed.

GOD NEVER FORGOT HIM

The most important thing about Joseph’s story is that even when he was in darkness, God never forgot Him.  That is the reason why day in and day out, even in the most challenging circumstances, Joseph behaved in a way that honored God.  He didn’t resign.  Joseph chose to make God the ruler of his life, rather than the slave owners and the prison warden.  He decided on hope.

GOOD OUT OF BAD?

The Joseph’s attitude is found in Genesis 50.  In a miraculous chain of circumstances, h rose to be the 2nd most powerful man in Egypt. Upon the death of their father, the brothers who had sold Joseph into slavery so many years ago were afraid that Joseph would seek revenge on them.  Joseph’s response to his brothers’ terror is, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

ANTIDOTE FOR HOPELESSNESS

A life-preserver is only of use when a person grabs on to it and holds on for dear life.  The Savior can only save those who grab hold of Him and choose to keep holding on. The central attitude adopted by Joseph regarding the betrayals of his brothers was, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” (Gen. 50:15-20) He chose to cling to the best antidote to hopelessness: God’s truth. That is eventually the same decision that led to Hannah not taking her own life while in prison. She held on to God’s faithfulness, even in the midst of great darkness.

THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE

Challenge for this week – start taking regular time to develop God’s viewpoint on your current circumstances. I have found planning spend a day without any electronic media – no Facebook, TV, movies, YouTube, no world news, etc. is extremely helpful. It’s a vacation day for your spirit. Take time to carefully read, listen and reflect on His Word and let it saturate your view of your personal circumstances.  Here are a few passages that might be helpful: Psalm 91, Psalm 31:3-5, Psalm 34:17-20. Write down those verses that speak to you and try to commit them to memory. Hopelessness does not have to be inevitably permanent.

Please let me know if your spirit’s vacation day helps bring some light. It might be the rest your soul needs right now. Both Hannah, Joseph, and I have found it extremely beneficial. Break the chain of thinking, “Why should I expect anything different? It’s inevitable.