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The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Can you imagine the excitement David must have felt when he was called down from the mountain to meet with the great prophet Samuel? Add to that the stunning announcement that someday, he, David, a mere shepherd boy would be King of Israel? Amazing!

He couldn’t have been more than 16 or 17 at the time. Life was ahead of him and even though he must have loved the shepherding and farming life his father instilled in him, the intrigue of the city and fame and fortune had to have had the same allure then as it does now. I imagine David walked just a little taller among the sheep when he returned to his post in the fields.

Then add in the whole incident with that giant, Goliath. There are lots of reasons stated out there for why David slew Goliath; the precision of his shot, the trust in God, Goliath not taking him (or his God) seriously. But I think there was probably a good measure of adrenaline behind that stone that day. After all, he was David, the future King!

But then life came crashing down for David. Psalm 34 was written when he ‘escaped’ from his own homeland to enemy territory. The very Philistines that produced Goliath; the very nation he hated so much; the one place in the world he would never want to find himself, became his sanctuary.

The once proud, confident David became an actor, pretending to be a lunatic in enemy territory so he’d be protected from Saul, and pitied by the Philistines. I can’t help but imagine the despondency, the fear, the disappointment in his heart.

Have you been there? Have you found yourself in a place you never thought you’d be in? Dealing with guilt for an affair you never thought you’d put yourself in? Struggling with credit card debt and other financial woes that you vowed you’d never get your family into…again? Struggling with the pain of broken relationships or failing health?

David likens it to a crushed spirit. The original languages give the word picture of being smashed by a hammer. Obliterated. Destroyed. Nothing left that resembles your heart. No use picking up the pieces. They are to shattered, to broken, to be of any value.

But listen to David’s words. God comes close to those who are broken. As an omnipresent God, he is always near of course. But during those times of grief; during those times when life is beyond disappointing, it’s dreadfully painful, your Heavenly Father, the God of the universe, bends low to hear your cry; to feel your pain; to comfort you.

Life doesn’t always take us where we thought we’d be, but it never takes us away from a God who is passionately in love with you.

PRAYER: Father God, I pray today for those who are hurting; for those who’s hearts have been smashed by the hammer of life. May they sense your presence and feel your comforting love. Amen.

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)

If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that one of the hardest parts of living a life of faith is that so much of our belief system is built on the reality of things that we don’t see and the assurance that things in our lives are not coincidental but part of an overall plan by an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving eternal being.

It’s far easier to put our trust in things we can see, touch, hear and smell. Our entire lives are made up of the five senses that make us aware of life in the good times as well as in the bad times. We evaluate everything on the basis of sight, touch, feel, smell and hearing.

The Bible challenges us to implement a sixth sense into our thought processes. It’s the sense that we call faith. Just as our five senses can be trained to evaluate our environment, our ‘faith-sense’ can be trained to evaluate the things we can’t see.

When we focus our minds on the trials we are in the midst of then everything we think, say and do is affected by our perception of things. Even those things that are ‘insignificant’ can appear exceedingly difficult to endure.

If we are able to look at things through our ‘faith-sense’ then the things that trouble us can be looked at as temporary glitches in a life bound for eternal happiness such as our physical senses are incapable of comprehending.

Using our ‘faith-sense’ doesn’t remove the stress and pressure of our physical existence, but we will find it easier to bear the pain and agony of life and all that we have to endure until we get to glory.

When troubles seem to overwhelm you, train yourself to look at things through the ‘eyes’ of your ‘faith-sense’. Everything you see around you will someday end. Relationships, the earth’s beauty, money, toys, even life itself. But some things will never end. For Example:

  • God will never end. He is the same today, yesterday and forever. Nothing on this earth, neither, the things you see with your physical senses or the things you can’t see (spirit world, future, etc.) will ever be able to change the God we worship as Creator/sustainer of the universe. He’s simply NOT going away!
  • God’s Love will never end. To love someone who loves you is normal. To love someone who only ‘likes you’ is noble. To love someone who openly hates you is Divine. God’s love for you is the same regardless of how you treat Him, the mistakes or your past or the habits you wrestle with on a daily basis.
  • Salvation through Jesus Christ is always available. Jesus doesn’t require you to ‘clean up’ our act to qualify for forgiveness. It’s free for the asking to all who desire it. Simply admit you have failed and ask Him to forgive you. It’s that easy.
  • Heaven. I don’t know what heaven will be like. Looking at the good part of life now, I don’t think it will be all angel wings and choirs. Heaven is a real place for us to enjoy each other and God. It’s not changing. It’s a place where all the things we are troubled by now will simply be non-existent.

The beauty of this world will pass away. The struggles of this world will end. Relationships, the good ones and the bad ones will fade away. Financial stability, health and all the troubles of this life will end. Focus on the things that will endure the heat of the fire and the test of time

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I look around me at all the things that affect my life. Some of them are so very good, like the fall colors, the smell of spring rain, the awesome storms of summer and the purity of the new fallen snow. Yet in the midst of all this beauty pain and agony seem to follow me. Empower me by Your Spirit to focus my heart and mind on the things that won’t pass away. Forgive me for my past and my doubt and help me see Jesus. Amen.

Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:10 (NLT)

Do you ever grow tired of hearing how good God is? Sick of those annoying people who tell you all about how God miraculously provided for them. How He answered their prayers and made everything okay? If so you are not alone. Many people in the Bible (and all through history) have asked the same question: “So…Where are you God?”

Job did it. He was considered the most holy and wise man of his time. Well respected, rich, good family, generous. Yet he suffered emotionally, physically and spiritually for no apparent reason. Hannah was another person who endured years of anguish with no relief from God.

Hannah was one of two wives who shared a husband named Elkanah. During this period in history it wasn’t unusual for a man to have more than one wife. But Hannah had a problem. She had no children. Her counterpart, Peninnah, had been blessed with two sons. In societies eyes this gave her more prestige than Hannah.

Not only was she looked upon more highly by society, Peninnah used her status as a weapon of mass humiliation towards Hannah. Every day, for years she reminded Hannah that it was SHE who had provided sons to Elkanah. Every morning when Hannah rose from bed she would see those two boys and be reminded that, in her eyes, she was a failure.

Hannah was a Godly woman. She believed in the God of heaven and did all the rituals and sacrifices that the law required. She obeyed God, loved her husband and prayed constantly. It’s no surprise that her prayers usually centered on her desire to have children. Finally, after years of having no answer from God, I Samuel 1:10 tells how Hannah bitterly prayed to God one day in the temple. Her prayer was so fervent, so agonizing and so emotional that the priest on duty thought she was drunk!

When she was done praying and explaining to the priest her situation she was told by him that she would soon be blessed with an answer. Hannah went home and within a year she saw and held the answer to her prayers. She had a baby!

In the midst of her despair Hannah no doubt asked the same question we all do: “Where are you God? Why won’t you answer my prayers? Why are you letting me live in such misery?” Some people have even given up on believing in God all together because of His silence.

When life seems unbearable and God seems completely absent, learn a lesson from the story of Hannah. Even though Hannah was being emotionally abused by Peninnah, she never retaliated in any way and from all appearances she remained true to her husband. Hannah’s faith never ever waivered concerning God’s ability to work in her life.

Another thing we can learn from Hannah is the importance of persistent prayer in the midst of turmoil. Hannah was a devoted wife and godly woman regardless of whether God answered her prayers of not. Much as she wanted to have a baby, she knew her self-worth was not wrapped up in a baby. Her self-identity came from her faith in God.

Lastly, even though she did not bear children to Elkanah, he loved her deeply. There may be times in our lives when it seems all of life is falling apart. When life is at its worst it is crucial to surround yourself with those who love and support you. The enemy wants to alienate you from your support system. Don’t allow that to happen. You are loved. You are loved by God and others. Don’t let the enemy tell you otherwise.

PRAYER: Father God. I’m tired of feeling like I am under constant attack and scrutiny by those around me. I want so much to believe in You, but it seems like all my prayers go unanswered and right now, to be honest, I doubt you even exist. If you do, I question whether you really love me or are concerned about me. Help me to find you like Hannah did. I need to know that you love me and that you have my best interests in mind. Lead me to people who will show me the love and support I need so desperately. Amen.

The worst of my fears has come true, what I’ve dreaded most has happened. Job 3:25 (The Msg)

Ever gone through day or a period in your life when absolutely EVERYTHING seems to go wrong? I don’t just mean little things like burning your toast in the morning, being late to work because you were stuck in traffic or having a flat tire on the interstate in a driving rain.

These are difficult things to go through but nothing compared to Job. He’d lost his children, his wealth, the position of respect in his community and his health. Even his wife had withdrawn from him at his deepest time of need. He was all alone and in physical, emotional and spiritual agony. To top things off he had three visitors who claimed to be friends. They took on the self-appointed position of judge, pointing out all the things that they knew about how ‘wrong Job was’!

While few of us have ever gone through the devastation Job endured there are times in our lives when things are so bad that we are unsure that we will be able to go on. The death of a dearly loved family member or friend; the end of a relationship in which you thought ‘everything was fine’; financial collapse; watching a loved one die of some disease, or finding out you are dying from some disease. All of these and more can cause us to lose all hope in ourselves, God or others.

While there aren’t any easy, quick fixes to the pain and despair that life deals us, there are a few things that may help ease the pain for a time.

  • Don’t instantly blame yourself. Job lived a nearly perfect life in God’s eyes yet endured unheard of pain. Take stock of the situation. Sometimes we have to admit that the things we are going through are consequences to our own choices. Ask Jesus to forgive you for your part and to give you strength to make it through the time of ‘discipline’ we call consequences.
  • Realize that sometimes the pain we go through has nothing to do with us. It could be God’s way of strengthening us for the challenges we face tomorrow. It could be God’s way of empowering us to help those who have gone through similar devastation.
  • Listen carefully to friend’s advice and measure it up against what you know. Sometimes even the most well-meaning friends are just plain wrong! Even pastors and spiritual leaders can be wrong sometimes. True, Christ-following friends won’t be critical or harsh. They will love you and support you and gently walk with you through the darkness.
  • Don’t just go looking for people to agree with you. But remember that it is God who judges and He alone knows the reason for your pain. Continue to grow in your relationship with Him. Don’t abandon Him. In the darkest night He is the only true light.
  • Most importantly, in spite of your pain and anger and despair, don’t turn your back on God. Even though things seem impossibly painful God DOES love you and has the power to see you through anything, ANYTHING life throws at you.  Talk to Him. Read His love letter to us (the Bible). Ask Him for wisdom and strength to make it through life’s challenges.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I’m about at the end of my strength. I’ve even thought of just ending it all because I’m not sure I can go on. You say you are there and I want to believe it but sometimes the darkness is too overwhelming. Please help me to see you in all this. Empower me through your Holy Spirit to sense the peace and love that passes all understanding. Right now I need to feel your love. Amen.

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