Are We Done Yet?

“Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, Lord, to help me.”  – Psalm 70:1

We see these words many times in the book of Psalms.  David was in desolation when he wrote them, in hiding from wickedness and enemies, and this is a record of his faith through the struggles that he endured.  I don’t know about anyone else, but there are days when I, like David, am literally desperate for an end to the madness of this world.  It is overwhelming at times, the depravity that we constantly see and face.  The local news alone is enough to raise anxiety levels, not to mention the national and world news networks which often ignite the already smoldering embers of intolerance and anger.  It is easy to get caught up in the tornado, so-to-speak.  We get sucked into political arguments, debates about sexuality, and (of course) arguments drawn from our cultural and religious differences…and we face every single one of these controversies several times in JUST ONE DAY!  Much like a tornado, we get sucked in, thrown around and spat out in an entirely different place than we expected…and often with our thoughts and confidences obliterated.  It’s not very difficult to reach the point of saying, “Come Lord Jesus!” 

Here’s the thing though, none of this should take us by surprise.  Right?  We know that hard times are part of the plan.  The earth is groaning in labor.  A new day is being birthed. 

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  (Matthew 24: 3-14)

All of which to say that there will many more days when we cry out for an end.  Just like a mother in labor, desperate to see the child she’s waited so long to meet, who is ready for an end to her suffering and discomfort, who (while in the emotional and physical throes of childbirth) will cry out for help and wonder when it will all be over, we too will become weary and frantic. 

But please, please, please, remember that from labor pains comes new life!  Our promise is eternal.

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  (Colossians 3: 1-4)

So stand firm…in love.  Bear the labor pains with hope in knowing that a greater promise awaits.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, as I see this world deteriorate, help me to remember Your promise.  With the help of Your Holy Spirit, I know that I can stand firm until the end.  I choose love, I choose righteousness, I choose YOU. 

“Jeeeeeeehoshaphat!”

(Joshua 21: 44-45) 44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.


Screenshot 2016-05-12 07.22.25

Battles are trying, and they make us weary.  Over the course of our lives and our walks of faith, we face many of them, some of which seem to never end.  In the midst of it, we can begin to feel as if we just cannot continue on as is. 

Personally, I can’t identify with the fellows in the picture above in a literal sense, as I have never physically fought in a war.  I’ve never put on a military uniform, left my friends and loved ones, and traveled somewhere foreign to engage in life-threatening combat.  I don’t know that specific kind of fear and loneliness, and though I will most likely never have to experience it, I do know that as a person of faith in Christ, there is a much different type of warfare I must willfully face. 

In Ephesians 6:12, Paul tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

It’s inevitable that we will encounter struggles, but we are not left powerless.  Paul goes on to say, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13). 

We are warriors who are equipped for battle.  All we have to do is brandish our faith, stand firm, and hold onto the promises of God, and at the end of every trial that we meet, just like the people of Israel, and much like the soldiers above, we will receive rest.  We are never done fighting, but we are always victorious, whether we see it or not, because that is the promise!  God is just as faithful to us today as he was and has been to Israel.  If you believe the word of the Lord, then your faith has no room for fear, doubt, discouragement or defeat. 

I am reminded of something that happened with the tribe of Judah when Jehoshaphat was their king.  Jehoshaphat was informed that three different tribes were on their way to wage war against Judah and were already close at hand.  These three tribes formed a huge army and Jehoshaphat became very alarmed.  Using great wisdom and exercising faith in what seemed like a hopeless situation, this king turned to God in prayer and called for a fast across the entire tribe of Judah.  In response to the prayers of his people, the Lord spoke to them and said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s… You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you…”  (2 Chronicles 20: 15,17)

The people of Judah, instead of cowering in fear, began to sing praises to the Lord, and that is how they marched toward the looming battle ahead.  When they finally came to a place where they would be able to see the approaching armies, they saw only the lifeless bodies of their enemies…not one soldier spared.  Ain’t that just like our God?  You see, the Lord has already gone before us.  He makes the rough places smooth, and he clears a path for us.  Sometimes that path leads us to battle, and we have to jump in and fight, but when we grow weary and are wounded there is rest.  He leads us beside the still waters, where we can drink deeply and regain our strength in him.  His promises are true, and he cannot fail us.    

(Jeremiah 31:2) “This is what the Lord says: ‘The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.’ ”


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, in my weakness I know that you are stronger.  In every situation, I trust you.  When darkness hangs heavy over my head, I will turn to you and sing your praises because I know that whatever I face, you’ve seen it already and you have prepared my path.  I know that I can be strong because in you I will always find rest on the other side of the battlefield.  Amen.

“Call Me Ishmael”

(Genesis 21: 8-18, NLT)  8 When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion. 9 But Sarah saw Ishmael—the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar—making fun of her son, Isaac. 10 So she turned to Abraham and demanded, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!”

11 This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael was his son. 12 But God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. 13 But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he is your son, too.”

14 So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.

15 When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. 16 Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears.

17 But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.”

Did you ever feel like God is doing so much for everyone else…people all around you are buying houses, getting promotions, getting married, having babies, buying new cars, and going on vacations…meanwhile you’re over here scraping the bottom of the barrel, lonely, and standing by, just waiting for your blessing?  Maybe you’re patient about it, and you understand that these things take time, but maybe you’re the one whose feelings are kind of hurt because you don’t really understand.  You’ve been obedient in every way, yet somehow you still feel left out and rejected.

If you’ve been pushed into the wilderness, like Hagar, you must remember that this was God’s plan for her.  What she had to endure had to take place in order for her son’s life to unfold according to God’s perfect plan for him…and for generations to come.  God never promised that we would not have trials.  In fact, He allows quite the opposite.

(Jeremiah 29: 10-13, NLT) 10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

We are fallen, therefore our sin brings us into struggle and heartache, yet in our brokenness we are still counted as His.  Seen.  Heard.  Purposed.  Loved.  We may toil through difficulties, but they are part of something.  They usher us toward the greater portion…toward the river of refreshing…toward revival and hope!  It isn’t rejection when we face the stuff of life that hurts us, it is God’s love being shown through discipline.  We are being prepared.  Our individual experiences and journeys may look very different from one another, but keep in mind that we don’t always see the inner workings of each other’s lives.  Some of us may seem like an Isaac, born to the right family with the blessings in hand, and some of us may feel more like an Ishmael, pushed into the wilderness.  No matter your circumstance, you cannot allow yourself to make these comparisons.  You must instead focus on your own path that has been laid before you.  Regardless of how hard it is to navigate at times, you have God’s promise and His word to see you through.  If you are thirsty, it is only for a time.  If you are hungry, it is only for a time.  Your struggle and your suffering will pass. 

(Genesis 16: 11, NLT) And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress.

…He hears you, Ishmael. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, sometimes I get lost in comparing my life with others’ lives.  Help me to stay focused on what is ahead, knowing that Your plans are greater than what I can perceive, even when “the struggle is real.”  I am so thankful for this reminder today that You hear me, and that if I will simply look for You, I will find You, and You will rescue me.  Amen.

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