Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you.”
John 14: 27
“Cast thou thy burden on the Lord!
What then? Will He bear it while I go free?
Nay, weary soul, not thus doth read the Word:
He will sustain -- not it -- not it -- but thee!”
Today’s Study Text:
“And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm. He said…who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no (person) lives, a desert with no one in it, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew?...God then confronted Job directly: ‘Now what do you have to say for yourself? Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, into court and press charges?’ Job answered: ‘I’m speechless, in awe-words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.’”
Job 38: 1, 38: 25-28, 40: 1-5
The Message Bible
“A Home In Zarephath – Part 5
Hope In The Midst of Desolation”
“And now, Lord, what is my hope?
Truly my hope is even in Thee.
In Thee, O Lord, have I trusted;
Let me never be confounded.”
“Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate.”
G. K. Chesterton
Have I ever found myself feeling like I am in a desolate situation where everything is barren and ruined, only to find that my God, who asks me to trust Him, has planted the seed of hope in my heart?
What is the secret to having a hopeful spirit during times of desolation?
“Why are thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God!”
Psalm 42: 11
“Those who keep speaking about the sun while walking under a cloudy sky are messengers of hope, the true saints of our day.”
Henri J. Nouwen
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You answer not, and by night I am not silent or find no rest…I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, it is softened with anguish and melted down within me. My strength is dried up like a fragment of clay pottery; with thirst my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and You have brought me into the dust of death…Save me from the lion’s mouth; for You have answered me kindly…You who revere and worship the Lord, Praise Him!...For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has He hidden His face from (us), but when (we) cried to Him, He heard…The poor and afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; they shall praise the Lord -- they who diligently seek for and inquire for Him as their greatest need. May your hearts be quickened now and forever!”
Psalm 22: 1, 2, 14, 15, 21, 23, 26
I beg your indulgence for as happened before, during a week when I have all the devotions laid out in such concise order, an idea comes out of my study which unexpectedly calls for more thought. And today is one of those times when I felt the need to end the week on a hopeful note. Especially during this time when we find God’s dedicated servant, Elijah, walking into a desolate situation and the person whom God called upon to care for him, found herself living in a desolate situation, as well.
The lives of these two individuals got me to take a second look at the word desolate. Believe it or not, this word appears 149 times in the Bible and this doesn’t include “forms” of the word such as desolation or desolated.
In the Hebrew, this word means ruined or destroyed. But it also, as an emotional touchstone, means the opposite of hope. Desolate is a barrenness devoid of anything that is uplifting. From an outward appearance, the widow of Zarephath, who faced a horrid drought; life as a widow with a child to take care of; and an unknown houseguest who dropped in out of nowhere at the moment she was down to her last meal, gives me a sense of the hopelessness which may have blanketed her like fog. Wouldn’t you have felt as though you were in a desolate place in your life? I know I would have.
It is at this point in our study of the widow of Zarephath and Elijah that I began to look through the Scripture to see how God addresses the subject of desolation -- those times when whether through direct action of our own or some unforeseen occurrence, our lives look like a ravaged and ruined habitation. Interestingly, this is exactly how God, through His prophet Ezekiel described what happened when His children turned their backs on Him. However, instead of saying, “I’m going to leave you in this desolate state,” God, offered hope, in the form of His loving-kindness. Here’s what God told Ezekiel He would do to reverse the hopeless situation: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it…I will do it” (Ezekiel 36: 33-36, N.I.V.)
Our God promises to replace desolation with rebuilding…hopelessness with hope. And it is with this image in our minds that we should reflect on what God did for the widow in Zarephath. Out of desolation, He brought hope beyond any thing she could ever have conceived.
In I Timothy 5: 5 we find these words penned by the Apostle Paul, “She that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God.” As one author asks, “Art thou desolate?” God will care for you. Trust Him, that you will not be lonely. Trust Him for your provisions and what is necessary for your support. Trust Him, for His protecting love. In the words of Edwin Arnold, “Be ye strong of heart and come bravely onward.”
Several days ago, I came upon this beautiful prayer of hope written by Betty Taylor and I hope it lifts your heart today.
Please give me the strength to hope.
Turn my bleak thoughts into gentle encouragement.
Let me feel hope and believe that all is not lost.
And finally, allow that hope to fuel my courage to carry on.”
“O Christ, King and Lord of all,
teach me to know that with You
nothing is too bad to be cured;
nothing too good to be hoped for;
nothing too hard to be attempted;
and nothing so precious that it
cannot be surrendered for Your sake;
who lives and reigns
with the Father…
for ever and ever.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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