Breaking news – your troubles will come to an end. Hallelujah! In this life, God warns that we will have trials and tribulations. The good news is that He also promises to deliver us from them all! Now, He doesn’t necessarily say that He will deliver us instantly, or the way we expect, or on our schedule.
When things don’t happen the way you expect, it can be tempting to get discouraged, down and despondent. When you feel like trouble is surrounding you, that’s when you have to dig your heels in as the saying goes, and say “I’m not going to give up, because God promised me victory!”
Today, if you are going through a dark time, keep moving forward! Remember, it’s always darkest just before dawn. That difficulty didn’t come to stay, it came to pass as the Bible says. Please stay in faith and keep praising and thanking God for delivering you. Set your hope in Him, stir up your faith, and keep believing, because soon you will see the victory God has prepared for you! Hallelujah!
“Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT)
Yahweh, thank You for giving me the strength to overcome every trouble I face today through Your Spirit. Father, I set my mind on You. I set my hope on Your love, knowing that You are paving the way for my victory all the days of my life, in Christ’s Name! Amen.
Do you have a bucket list? I do. Of course, it includes visiting what I consider to be some of the most awe-inspiring lighthouses in the world, but it also includes riding on a hot air balloon! Hot air ballooning is a worldwide fun and memorable activity for the entire family. There are over 20 locations in my home state of New Jersey alone. Now, if I could only get to ride a balloon like the one pictured above, that would just be SUPER cool and a dream come true!
Would you believe it if I told you that this lighthouse balloon actually flew in 2019 from none other than Readington, New Jersey? And, would you believe, I missed it?! The QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC Bank flew this 115 feet tall (11 stories high) hot air balloon during that year’s festival. I am hoping that they bring it back again sometime in the near future. If they do, you know I will be riding it for sure and scratching it off my bucket list!
This majestic lighter-than-air aircraft rising high above the ground reminds me of that famous inspirational song titled, You Raise Me Up.
Although there is no verifiable information that proves that this song was intended to be a hymn or that it was inspired by the Christian faith (lyrics by Brendan Graham), it’s truly amazing how most of its lyrics are reminiscent of some Bible verses. Coincidence? Maybe, and perhaps that is why it still resonates with those who consider the Almighty as the source of their strength, the lifter of their soul.
“But thou, O Lord art my protector, my glory, and the lifter up of my head.”
Consider the parallels I found between the song and portions of Scripture.
When I am down, and oh my soul is weary “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” – Psalm 119:28
When troubles come and my heart burdened be “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” -Psalms 73:26
Then I am still and wait here in the silence “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” -Psalm 62:5
Until you come, and sit awhile with me “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.”-Psalm 145:18
You raise me up so I can stand on mountains “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.” -Psalm 40:2 “So that He sets on high those who are lowly, And those who are saddned are lifted to safety.” -Job 5:11
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas “When you pass through the waters, I [The LORD] will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you…” –Isaiah 43:2a
I am strong when I am on your shoulders “… I [The LORD] have made you, and I will carry you; I will sustain you and deliver you.” -Isaiah 46:4b
There is no life, no life without its hunger “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” -Matthew 5:6
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly “Why are you in despair, my soul? And why are you restless within me?” -Psalm 42:11a
But when you come and I am filled with wonder – Sometimes I think I glimpse eternity “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. ” -Psalm 65:8
In a sin-stricken world where godlessness and evil are ever-increasing, songs like this one testify to the hope that can still be found among its inhabitants. Family members, friends, and even people we have never met have and perhaps continue to play a significant part in encouraging, guiding, and helping us rise above our challenges. However, there is only One who gave His life so that all who accept Him as Lord and Savior could rise up to become all that He made them to be. And not only to rise up in this world but also unto the world to come; The eternal hope of glory!
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall be forever with the Lord.”
1 Thessalonians 4;16-17
And as we rise above our fears and doubts in this life, let us not forget that as lighthouses for God we also need to rise up and shine the glorious light of His salvation; wherever this earthly pilgrimage takes us. Remember it’s not just about us being lifted up, but also about us lifting others up with love, kindness, respect, and above all, the words that grant eternal life and healing for the soul.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!
If we put God first and seek His kingdom and righteousness, we can fulfill our purpose in life and experience both earthly and spiritual success, joy, hope, and peace in the midst of all the chaos around us. That’s because only in Christ there is fullness of life. So, whether you are in the lowest of valleys or on the highest of mountaintops, look up and cry out to God. Seek more of Him and get ready to be lifted up higher than you have ever been!
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
Matthew 6:33 NLT
“… I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you for all the people you have placed in my life to lift me up when I am down. But you, O, Lord, are the true lifter of my soul. When I need a shoulder and no one is readily available, you are always there. When I face challenges, you help me overcome. When I face obstacles, you help me climb. When I face discouragement, you give me hope. When I am weak, you give me strength. When I am heartbroken, you heal me and fill me with joy. When I am anxious, you grant me true peace. Lord, you are the only One who can raise me up from the lowest place. And because You are the Sovereign and Almighty God who is above all creation, I will lift up my head and trust in you no matter what I face in life. Raise me up so that I can also be a lifter to others and guide them to your throne of unconditional love, mercy and grace. Amen!
Psalm 22:1- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
It seems to me that our Christian culture has made it a sin to despair, to question God, to be just downright sad. However, the Bible is filled with mighty men of God who struggled with God, who questioned God, sought their own way, or just had down days. I don’t feel like Christianity should promote despair, but I also don’t think that it should try to make it seem like everything is awesome, every day of the week. This is an unrealistic goal which can cause us to be frustrated when we cannot achieve it, or to ignore these thoughts and push them away without dealing with them directly.
Now before we continue, I am not talking in this post about clinical depression that needs treatment from a licensed clinical psychiatrist, which I am not. Depression is a real struggle for many and I will not claim to have all the answers to it.
Let’s look in the Bible where men of God questioned God and their circumstances:
• John the Baptist was in prison and questioned if Jesus was the Messiah even after proclaiming it at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 11:2-3)
• Habakkuk 1:2- O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
• Moses was frustrated with God and the Israelites many times. In Numbers 11:11 he said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people?
• Many of David’s psalms were filled with sadness and discouragement including Psalm 22
• In Psalms 73, Asaph questioned God about the prosperity of the wicked
• After the defeat of the prophets of Baal, Elijah suffered from despair, even wishing to die. In 1 Kings 19:4 he said “I have had enough Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
• Jonah rebelled against God, but after the successful saving of Nineveh, Jonah became bitter telling God “Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:3
Now it’s easy as Christians to quote the Bible where it says “the joy of the Lord is our strength” and “rejoice in the Lord always”. I’m not saying that these are not good goals, but as fallible humans we need to understand that we will have good and bad days, we will have strong faith mixed with weak faith, we will question God and we will be without any doubt. There are high and low points in our “climb up the mountain” as Christians. Just read Pilgrim’s Progress…
Martin Luther, the great reformer, struggled with doubt. It’s one of the key drivers of him questioning the church at the time to lead the reformation. At one point his doubt led to such great a depression that he wrote, “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.”
What is our end goal when we despair? If we question God or have sadness what do we do? We do not live in that state, we use it to propel us forward and out of it. We seek help, read the Bible, pray to God, and ultimately stand firm in our faith in who God is. It is important to not go through this alone, we need to find fellow believers we can be accountable with and who we can call up when we are struggling.
Feel free to read my previous post on “Wrestling with God.” God is a big God and He can handle our doubts, worries, anxieties, fears, and sadness. If we give them over to God, He can handle them where we, in our own strength, cannot. Once we rest in God’s sovereignty, we can realize that we do not have all the answers, and that is ok.
Back to Psalm 73, it is my favorite Psalm. The first half is the authors frustration’s with the wicked, but by the end it brings him to a place of confidence in God and His ultimate plan. How he may not understand everything fully, but his ultimate trust is in God.
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
May the same be said of us, that we can use our dark times to help illuminate God and His power, that we can rest in the fact that He has everything under control. Our doubts and fears are not sinful in and of themselves, we should not feel unworthy for having them. But after we push through, get everything out in the open, and fall back on God’s sovereignty, we can get back to pursuing God. We can then truly claim that “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Discerning Reflection: What do I do when I am sad, when I question God? Do I pray and turn to Him or do I turn away from Him? Do I feel shame for having those thoughts? How can I quickly turn around from these thoughts and who do I need to be accountable with to help me?
Prayer: Lord help me seek after you in the good and the bad times, help me understand that I will have high and low points and to not despair but to trust that you have everything under control.