It didn’t take too long to realize that my van had a fuel gauge issue, as the van continued to show I had a full tank of gas after driving it for a week. I had a car like that before, and knew the quick remedy was to use the faithful trip monitor for mileage and get gas frequently. It was working well for me. I was told it would cost a lot of money to fix the gauge and I certainly didn’t want to make that kind of investment.
Recently, my van has been involved in numerous vehicular accidents. People cannot seem to get enough of hitting the van. At times, I’ll be in the van. At times, it’s park and people ram into it like playing bumper cars. Nonetheless, the accident that began the domino occurrences of accidents did something wild. It fixed my gas gauge. The accident that caused whiplash and days of pain fixed the fuel gauge. What a blessing in the middle of chaos!
Today, look at the blessings around you. Perhaps you are going through a great trial. Maybe you feel like you have been struggling for a long time. But through it all, there are blessings upon blessings. Acknowledge them. Thank the Lord! He is good. Always! And He uses everything—the good and the bad – for His good purpose.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 [NIV]
If our joy rests on our circumstances, we do not have true joy. If your joy rests on things going the way we want, you do not have true joy. If joy rests on what you have and who you are with, this is not true joy. Circumstances change. Things don’t always go the way you want. We will not always have the same constant people in our lives. The things we have are temporary—they break, they are lost, their value is temporal.
In Habakkuk 3, we read about things not going well. The fig trees, vines, and fields aren’t producing. The livestock is not productive either. This is a big problem. No food. No money. Circumstances aren’t good at all. Even so, we read, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
How can there be joy? How can he take joy? The reason for joy is for knowing God—for trusting Him. When we rest in Him, when we know Him – truly know Him (requires a relationship)—then we can take joy in Him too. No matter what is going on today, take joy in Him. As John 16:22 says, the joy we have in Him, in our salvation, no one can take away.
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” – Habakkuk 3:17-18 [ESV]
Yesterday I attended a family picnic and I got ketchup in my hair. My uncle made me a cheeseburger and I topped it with all the fixings – lettuce, tomato, onions, and ketchup. The wind was crazy. I believe what happened was ketchup dripped to my plate and the plate flew into my hair. I remember having to catch it a few times. When that ketchup was in my hair, I could not stop messing with my hair. It became my primary focus. I wanted so badly to get it out of my hair, though I’m sure if I didn’t know it was there I would have been none the wiser.
When we have problems in life we do the same thing too often. We know about the problem and we focus on the problem. We continue to think about the problem. We continue to consider the need to fix the problem. It almost becomes an obsession. If the problem is small, we spend our time figuring out how we will resolve the issue. If it is a bigger issue or something we do not have the means to fix alone, we continue to look at the problem as an impossible hurdle and depression sets in soon after. Sometimes we make ourselves sick as we continue to fixate on our current circumstances.
Just as I should not have been so focused on the ketchup in my hair (it was only a little ketchup and there is a thing called shampoo), we cannot be problem focused. We have a God Who is a God of the impossible. Our focus, whether we have no pressing problems or we are buried knee deep in problems, should always be on God. When He is our focus, when He is first in our life, then our circumstances, our struggles, our problems won’t control us, depress us, or weaken us. Remember, in our weakness, He is strong (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).
In Isaiah 26:3 we read, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” Do you know what is so awesome about that verse? The word keep is “natsar” which means “to watch” or “guard.” The word for peace is “Shalom,” which means “completeness” or “peace.” The word for perfect is also “Shalom.” This verse says if we are fixed on God, if we trust in Him, we will be kept (watched, guarded) so that we are in completeness and peace.
All is well. Shalom. That is what we read in 2 Kings 4 twice—both times from the Shunammite’s mouth. The prophet Elisha passed by her home often and the Shunammite wanted to make a room for him. What an awesome gesture to make a room for the man of God. If only we each made room like that for God in our lives.
The Shunammite was blessed by God with a son but one day while the son was with his father, he fell ill and died. The Shunammite woman had her son carried to the bed of the man of God. He was laid on the bed and she left. As she saddled the donkey, she was asked why she was headed to Elisha on this day. She said, “ALL IS WELL.” When she came upon Gehazi, she again said, “ALL IS WELL,” before she fell at Elisha’s feet.
All is well. Shalom. The word means completeness or peace. What a great thought—peace! But how can one have peace when their son lay dead?!? How can a person say, “All is well” when it doesn’t appear that everything is okay? This woman was without a son for so very long and now her prized son was dead. All is well. Shalom. Why? Because she had her eyes fixed on God and she allowed Him to move into her house and into her life. Her circumstances might have been painful, but all was well. She loved and feared the God of the impossible. He moved into her home—and he moved in her life. So too He can in yours. As the hymnist Horatio Spafford wrote, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”
“And he said, ‘Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.’ She said, ‘All is well’ … Run at once to meet her and say to her, ‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’ And she answered, ‘All is well.’” – 2 Kings 4:23, 26 [ESV]
Tonight as I walked the dogs, I proceeded down a street I walk every day. As I continued forward, I heard the sound of a drill sergeant from what I imagined. I couldn’t make out the words because it was in the distance, but I envisioned the scenes I had seen again and again in movies. When I got closer, I noticed the all-familiar face of a soldier I spoke to in passing many times.
As this soldier sat on his porch swing, he looked forward, staring at the flags before him—the American flag and the Gadsden flag (“Don’t Tread On Me”). He shouted orders as he stared until he saw the dogs and I approaching. Then he apologized and confided that he got papers today—a red one and a white one. These papers are not what you are probably thinking; they were divorce papers. We spoke for a bit. He was somewhat incoherent. My dog was getting antsy due to an approaching dog so I told him to “hang in there” and continued walking. He returned to his shouting. I felt great sadness.
I ended up crossing the street and passing by again. We again spoke briefly. I told him to “take care.” I started praying for him as I journeyed onward. A short distance ahead were police—two police officers speaking with a neighbor. In little time they made their way up to this man. I continued to pray as sorrow began to weigh me down. Why did I not stay longer to speak with him? Why did I not pray with him? So tonight I pray, I pray for this man who knew I didn’t understand. He said it numerous times during his incoherent mumbling. But I know a God Who understands. He understands even the groans when we cannot speak. He understands all the hurt, all the pain, all the temptations, all the struggles. He understands it all. Sometimes I cannot understand but I’m thankful He always does. Sometimes I cannot find the right words, but He always has a Perfect Word. And I’m thankful that the weight I felt from the burden of sorrow I can give to Him and rest in His promises.
Please pray for this soldier. I don’t know his name. But God does.
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” – Hebrews 4:14-16 [MSG]
“Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.” – Job 10:8-12 [NIV]
“You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me.” – Job 30:21
“You have become cruel” (NLT) – basically saying God changed toward him.
1) God does not change
Malachi 3:6a says, “I am the LORD, and I do not change.” (NIV)
Job realized that God was gracious, kind, and his Creator
But thinks God changed because of his situation.
2) God does not think like us
“’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’” – Isaiah 55:8 [NLT]
“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” – Psalm 139:16 [NASB]
3) We cannot understand everything
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 [NLT]
“I realized that no one can discover everything God is doing under the sun. Not even the wisest people discover everything, no matter what they claim.” – Ecclesiastes 8:17 [NLT]
“God’s riches, wisdom, and knowledge are so deep that it is impossible to explain his decisions or to understand his ways.” – Romans 11:33 [GW]
“Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.” – Ecclesiastes 11:5 [NLT]
4) Ask – Show me Your ways
Moses said to God, “If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.” – Exodus 33:13 [NLT]
“Now show me Your glory” (v. 18)
I want to KNOW YOU
I want to SEE YOU
I want to BE IN YOUR PRESENCE
Psalm 103:7, the Psalmist writes,
“He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.” [NASB]
God’s ways must be MADE KNOWN.
- He MADE KNOWN them to Moses
- Ways – Intimate Relationship
- Know God (Hosea 6:6)
- To the Israelites He taught them by His actions, but his words were concealed. The relationship wasn’t the deep relationship like that He had with Moses.
- Works – Observation – What God does
- Parting Red Sea / Water from Rock / Walls of Jericho
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
– Jeremiah 29:13 [NASB]
“Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” – James 4:8a [NLT]
“I long to look on the face of the One that I love
Long to stay in Your presence, it’s where I belong”
(Jesus Culture “Show Me Your Glory”)
I have a medical condition that can make some days nearly unbearable. The pain and fatigue can cause me to not be so pleasant to be around. I try hard to keep myself in the Word and to fix my eyes on Christ, because it is very easy for me to get frustrated and act out in anger when I am not feeling very well.
God’s Word says that God Himself is slow to anger. The Bible says that we can be angry but that we should not sin because of our anger. We are not to react in anger when things are not flowing smoothly. The other morning my knee hurt, my back hurt. I was tired because the pain kept me up half the night. I was trying to work. The printer was not working properly. I reacted. I reacted in anger. I smacked the printer. I yelled. Doing that got me even more angry and frustrated. I wanted to take that printer and toss it across the back yard. Others likely heard me yelling at my printer and that wasn’t a great example.
Thankfully I calmed down. I recognized that I was going down a bad path and I took a break. I fixed my eyes on Jesus and turned on some worship music. I started to sing along. The lyrics reminded me of God’s Word. The lyrics reminded me of His promises. The anger started to disappear. My pain no longer seemed as intense. I was worshiping Him. I was feeling the peace that only He can give. Each day we are given many opportunities. We control our reactions to the circumstances and situations in our lives. We can choose anger, worry, fear, hate—or we can choose love, joy, compassion, courage, peace. We can choose to do it alone or we can choose Jesus.
“BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” – Ephesians 4:26-27 [NASB]
Circumstances change. Situations are not always the same. There are moments in life when you may be “on top of the world.” There are also moments when you are at your lowest point. But in any circumstance, in any situation, at any point in life, you can be content. It does not matter where you are at or who you are with or your circumstances. Paul said that he was content in any situation.
I know people who are never happy. They can only list the negatives in their life, yet if I examine their situation I find many blessings I could list. For some reason or another, some people feel dissatisfied, unhappy, broken, or lacking. For me it is hard to understand. I have grown to understand this same contentment as Paul mentions. Life is really different when you can be content in all situations.
Today I challenge you to look around and thank God for your blessings. Did you have at least one meal today? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have a job? Do you have family? Think of what you have—look at the blessings around you. When you focus on them and thank God for them, you aren’t living with your eyes fixed on your lack. If you can look at the situations that come your way in a positive light, you’ll discover this contentment that is only possible through Christ.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Philippians 4:12 [NIV]