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While the Bible was written thousands of years ago, it continues to amaze me, especially in the stories it tells. The stories told are proof that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s humbling to realize that after all these years the human race is no closer to figuring out how to treat each other. The result is a sense of fear, frustration and hopelessness.

It’s easy to say ‘I believe in God. He is my hope’ but for many of us, at least for me, it’s much easier to put my hope in God when my checkbook is okay, my kids behave, and I haven’t done something stupid to cause friction in the family!

When prayers go unanswered; when there’s more month at the end of the money; when the doctors report is ominous; when the police are knocking on the door, it’s a little more difficult to follow the Apostle’s advice to ‘count it all joy when we encounter various trials.’

No where is this better illustrated than by Mark in the Gospel bearing his name. A discouraged father reaches the end of his rope. He most likely hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since his son began to have seizures that attempted to kill him with fire or drowning.

In an act of desperation he seeks out Jesus (Even back then it was incredibly hard for a guy to ask for help). The story gets worse. When he arrives at the place where Jesus was reported to be, he finds out Jesus was on a retreat with a couple of disciples. The other disciples failed miserably to be of any help whatsoever. An argument ensued. “You mean to tell me I came all this way and you can’t help?”

When Jesus finally arrived, dad told his story. He asks IF Jesus can help. Jesus says, if you believe, all things are possible. Dad blurted out “I DO believe…” but no sooner were the words out of his mouth than he realized that deep down, he struggled with doubt. He finished his sentence with the words many of us say during the honest moments of our lives, “help me in my unbelief!

It’s easy to believe when life is good. Not always so when life goes south. So, like the dad, I often catch myself admitting my desire to believe is greater than my ability to believe.

Have you been there? When we use human logic; when we put our trust in our own resources, Hope is hard to come by. When we put our hope completely in God we find comfort. But here’s the best part. He knows going into all this that you will struggle with belief. He knows that no matter how many times he shows himself capable, you’ll be attacked with the demon named worry. But that’s okay. His power is as result of who he is, not the level of you’re ability to believe.

Rest in his comfort.


“I tried praying once but nothing happened.”

“I prayed really hard that mom would be healed and she died. What’s the use?”

“I really needed that job but he wouldn’t give it to me. I doubt he really exists anyway.”

You can add yours to the list. We are a hurting people and when you are hurting, and God seems silent, well…that’s about the worst feeling a person can get.

Unanswered prayers are one of the most difficult of all topics because the pain is real. It’s hard to understand a God that seemingly builds your hopes up and then smashes them to the ground.

Oh, sometimes we can look back and see the reasons. Sometimes we come to a point of understanding. But not always.

There are tons of unanswered prayers in the Bible by some pretty Godly men. Joseph, Moses, Abraham, David…to name a few. My favorite is Job. That guy really got nailed and God never did explain it to him!

So what made them go on? What pushed them through the silence and darkness? I think it was the realization that a bad day with God was better than the best day without him. I haven’t gained all understanding on this yet, but it seems God is more concerned about our faith in him than he is our earthly comfort. That’s not to say he is against earthly comfort of course. He offers plenty. But his main focus is on trusting him and seeing the world through his eyes. The closer we get to God, the more his desires become our own and the wiser our prayers become.

Prayers that match his desires are more likely to be answered.


When calamity comes we often ask, “Why did you do this God?” But maybe we should really ask, “Why did you do this God?” Yep. You read it right. The question is the same, it’s the attitude of heart that’s different. In the first instance the tone and intent is accusatory. In the second instance it’s reflective. King Hezekiah was a Godly man greatly used for God’s Kingdom. God “left him to see what his heart (his character) was like.” This wasn’t so his character was revealed to God, he knew. Rather it was to reveal Hezekiah’s true character to himself. God is sometimes silent so we can see ourselves as we truly are. His goal isn’t to harm or frustrate us, but to draw us closer or make us stronger.


A cheerful heart is a choice. Difficulties will come. Tragedy will occur. But the resilient spirit will see joy in the midst of calamity. A crushed spirit dwells on problems not possibilities. A crushed spirit relies on their own strength or the strength of others to flourish. When human effort fails, and it will, strength is sapped away. When we place our hope in God we can look adversity in the eye with a cheerful heart. This is impossible without Jesus Christ as Lord. 


You are a spring in the garden, a fountain of pure water, and a refreshing stream from Mount Lebanon. Song of Solomon 4:15 (CEV)

Stagnant water.

Just reading those words conjure up the rancid odor, the slimy film, the repulsiveness of it. It could have been on a walk through the woods on a stifling summer day or while cleaning up some deserted lot full of tires and other ‘water catching’ containers.

Stagnant water breeds disease. Stagnant water squelches life. Stagnant water pushes us away. Stagnant water never satisfies. Stagnant water puts within us a desire to find fresh water.

Sometimes life can be like that stagnant pool we try to avoid. You can’t put your finger on it really, the source that is. You just feel flat. For a writer or speaker it can be those times when you stare at the computer screen or paper for what seems like hours wondering what comes next.

Stagnancy of the spirit. It’s tough. It takes away your creativity. It can make you irritable, impatient, restless. Stagnancy of the heart drives us to look for more in our relationships, more in our job contentment, more in our spiritual walk. At its worst, stagnancy of the heart can drive us to lose the will to live at all.

You rarely see condominiums built next to an ugly bog, or see people gather to take pictures in front of a swamp. On the other hand, people yearn for the freshness of a mountain stream, a shooting fountain or a waterfall plummeting over a cliff. These are signs of life, of beauty, of freshness!

In one of the greatest loves stories of all time, the ‘beloved’ is described as a spring in a garden, a fountain of purity, a refreshing stream from the loftiest mountain. As one scholar wrote, Though the fountain is lowly, the source is lofty; fed by the perpetual snows of Lebanon, refreshingly cool, fertilizing the gardens of Damascus. It springs upon earth; its source is heaven. It is now not “sealed,” but open “streams”.

It’s easy, during those ‘stagnant times’ of our walk to forget the source of our vitality. The follower of Jesus Christ need never fret those times of occasional stagnancy for we know that the freshness of our souls, the vitality of our hearts, doesn’t rest on our own abilities or on the environment we live in.

May we always be the conduit of freshness from heaven. May our hearts overflow with the fresh water of God’s Holy Spirit. May others see in us a fresh mountain stream with its source in heaven and not a stagnant pond intent on focusing on ourselves.

PRAYER: Father God. I confess that there are times in my life when I allow the cares of life to cause me to be stagnant. Fill me to overflowing with the freshness of your Spirit so that I can feel revived and others can benefit from your love. Amen.

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