Friday, April 13, 2012

Life's Goliaths

No matter what trial you're facing right now in your life, I'm sure you can relate to a time when you felt so stuck in the valley of struggle that you wondered if you'd ever make it out. For me, that time is now.

So what's a person to do? Give up? Hopefully not. Despair, grumble, and complain? It may make you feel better for a brief moment, but it's not long-lasting. Pray? Often.

Sometimes you can be so deep in a valley of struggle that you feel maybe even God can't get you out. Of course, we all know that is a lie, but as one who is deep in a valley, it's hard to believe the Truth at times.

One thing that has been greatly helping me walk in this valley has been my self-discipline in sticking to my Bible-reading plan. As you've seen, there have been lots of examples of infertility in the Bible, which has helped encourage and inspire me after reading each and every unique, beautiful story. Isn't it amazing how you can read a story you've known since childhood that can speak differently to you each time?

Little side note here: I admit that I have never actually read the entire Bible in my lifetime. I've started many times before, but would often fail to stick with the plan once I reached the "law books" and would jump back to the New Testament because I felt it to be more inspiring. But this Bible-reading plan app on my phone has been quite the handy gadget telling me exactly which chapters to read each day. I also admit that I had some self-esteem issues as a child - I never enjoyed going to Sunday school as a child, and begged and begged my parents to not make me go, until finally they gave in and allowed me to always attend "big church" with them. (My dislike for Sunday school had much to do with feeling unaccepted and unliked by my peers.) So as a result of not attending childhood Sunday school, attending public school, and failing to stick with a reading plan in the past to read through the Old Testament entirely, here I am today, a grown, 27-year old woman who has never read for herself the classic stories such as David & Goliath. Sure, I had heard the story lots of times before, but never read it myself, in context with the other stories before that eventful day.

Back to my blog post topic...Today I was continuing to read in 1 Samuel, and I reached the chapters about David. Perhaps since I haven't read this story before, or perhaps it's just always amazing to read, I greatly enjoyed reading about the story of David & Goliath.

In 1 Samuel 16, the same Samuel mentioned in my previous post about Hannah, is grown and is a wise prophet in Israel, who helped appoint the first king, Saul. After Saul was disobedient to the Lord, God told Samuel to appoint a new king of God's choosing, so Samuel traveled to the city of Bethlehem (which is where Ruth and Naomi returned to, if you recall, so Ruth & Boaz's generations of children are from there).

In Bethlehem, Samuel inspects each of Jesse's sons (Jesse is the grandchild of Ruth & Boaz). Samuel suspected (wrongfully so) that the oldest of Jesse's sons would be chosen by God to be king, but the Lord replied to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

I love that part about how God sees not as man sees. It's true about life's struggles too isn't it? I know I have the tendency to look at my struggle and see it as a HUGE deal, like, "I can't believe God would let something SO difficult come upon me." But I have to remember that God sees my life completely different than I do. While I'm focusing on the outward appearances (no pregnancy yet, envying all the pregnant women and new moms around me), God is looking at the heart - not only at my heart, but the heart of my life's perspective. He sees how much He has already given me, and likely wonders why I'm so bent out of shape on not having this one thing.

So for the sake of feeling convicted about that, I'm taking this moment to give thanks to God for ALL that He has given me: eternal life, my husband, my family, my friends, my job, our home, our pets, providing above and beyond for our needs, for keeping us safe, healthy, for teaching us so many lessons through this struggle, for uniting my husband and me even more during this struggle, for hearing my prayers, seeing every drop of tears that's shed, for planning and caring for my future, for preparing me for that future, and for loving me enough to allow His Son to die for me.

1 Samuel 16 continues with David, the youngest, smallest, and least significant (from the world's standards) of Jesse's sons being chosen by God to be the next king (and to be part of Jesus' genealogy). Then in 1 Samuel 17, the Philistine, Goliath challenges Israel to choose a champion brave enough to fight him to the death. None step up, except David. The Israelites - the same people who were too cowardly to accept Goliath's challenge themselves - ridiculed David for his "foolish" claim that he could defeat Goliath. Goliath himself teased David when David approached him on the battlefield with nothing but a stick and stones.

But David, who fully knew and understood that he was as small as everyone teased, didn't let his size stop him - because he knew it wasn't his own efforts that would win this battle. He accepted Goliath's challenge so "that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel" - because think about it, what more proof would all those present that day need than to see a small man defeat a giant against all logical odds?

So while you're stuck deep down in your valley, where all logic and statistical odds tell you that you'll continue being stuck for a long time, remember that it's not your efforts that will get you out of that valley. It's the One who created all and is in all. Surrender to Him, ask for the help of His Holy Spirit, and allow Him to carry you out of the valley.

Today I'd like to leave you with some words of encouragement, sent to me by my dear friend.

When The Journey Gets Tough
By: Our Daily Bread
April 13, 2012

We should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. —2 Corinthians 1:9

In August 2009, Blair and Ronna Martin lost their energetic 9-year-old son Matti when he was dragged to his death by a family cow. I had a chance to meet this Kenai, Alaska, family and share in their grief. And I know how tough this tragedy has been for them.

I also know that they are seeking God’s care and comfort for their pain. An observation made by Matti’s mom is valuable for anyone walking through one of life’s valleys. During one of her down times, Ronna was reading 2 Corinthians 1:9, which says that “we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.” She felt as if Jesus were telling her, “Ronna, I know the journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life.”

When the journey gets too tough to navigate, 2 Corinthians 1:9 is a reminder to us that we don’t travel alone. We have the help of the One who showed us His power in the resurrection, and who will demonstrate His power again when He raises believing loved ones of all generations to eternal life. “My strength and my hope have to be in Christ alone,” Ronna said. That’s a truth we all need as we travel the journey God has for us. —Dave Branon

When life’s journey gets so difficult That it feels too much to bear, Just remember, we don’t walk alone— Our almighty God is there. —Sper

The storms of life remind us to take shelter in the loving arms of our Savior.

No comments:

Post a Comment