There is something that I hear and read too often – My life sucks. Sometimes it really can be frustrating to hear these words, especially from the mouths of Christians. Usually it is not something that is said once, but it is a way of life for some people. Perhaps the person believes he or she is the only one who has problems, trials, and hardships. Perhaps the person is not happy because he or she is not getting what’s desired. Either way, it is like nails on a chalkboard to hear those words.
Since sin entered the equation many, many years ago, everyone has hardships and struggles and pain. It is not how God intended the world, but we made a choice. Jesus has defeated death and through Him we overcome; however, trials and suffering still occur here on earth. I could list many of my personal struggles, and people who know me well can see them just by watching me walk, but it is not about that at all. When people see me and know of my struggles, they don’t hear that my life sucks—they hear that Jesus is taking care of me, helping me through each and every day. They see my testimony without me opening my mouth.
Does your life suck? Are things not going the way you intended? Do you have limited funds? Do you hate your job? Do you have relationship problems? Are you struggling through life? I am sure you have a lot on your plate. We all do. But remember, each day is a blessing—each day is a gift from God. You can walk through life complaining about each day, being ungrateful for the gift or you can ask God to use you, to strengthen you, to be a part of your life and things will be very different. I might have pain this morning as I write this, but I have a joy and peace that only Jesus can give. My life does not suck. No matter how bad it gets, no matter what challenges and hardships come my way, each day is another opportunity, another gift. Each morning I thank Him for giving me another chance. What will you do with your opportunity today?
“The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” – Psalm 29:11 [NIV]
“This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24 [NLT]
In 1 Samuel 4, the people were just defeated in battle. They retreated back to camp and could not understand why the Lord allowed their defeat. Since they did not get the result they desired, the elders of Israel suggested that the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord be carried into battle with the Israelites. The thought was with the Presence of God being with the Ark of the Covenant, they could not lose the battle. He would HAVE to save them then.
The elders of Israel would have done better to consider why the battle was lost instead of attempting to figure out a way to win. Why did the Lord let them lose? There had to be a reason. But instead of looking for a reason, instead of asking the Lord for guidance, the Israelites decided it would work best to use the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord to help them win the battle. They took something holy and attempted to control God. The Ark held the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod, and a jar of manna. The Ark was used to communicate with God. They used it as a lucky rabbit’s foot rather than treating it as holy. Their actions surely make it clear that their previous loss was likely justified. They wanted to win, no matter what. Their eyes were off of God.
The Ark of the Covenant would end up getting captured and causing some chaos to other people. Eli the priest, his sons, and his daughter-in-law all would die as well—each death connected to this unwise decision. Oh, and the battle was lost—the Israelites were taught a lesson first hand: you cannot control God.
“After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, ‘Why did the LORD allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?’ Then they said, ‘Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.’” – 1 Samuel 4:3 [NLT]
Have you encouraged someone today? This appears to be a simple question but I challenge you to honestly consider your day and if you took the time to encourage someone. People need encouragement—look around and there is no way to deny it. Negativity is everywhere. People identify with their failures. People listen to what the world says about them. People live with defeat. People are struggling.
The amazing thing is that encouragement isn’t so difficult—it’s all about being intentional. As I was reading the Book of Acts, I read about how Paul was encouraging others. In Acts 20, it mentions how he encouraged the disciples and then as he traveled through Macedonia, he continued to speak words of encouragement. Moses was told to encourage his successor Joshua (Deuteronomy 3:28). Barnabas, “the son of encouragement,” surely lived up to his name as he was the one to welcome and work alongside Paul after his conversation (see Acts 9).
Again and again we are commanded to encourage each other. This was mentioned so many times because everyone needs encouragement. Let us be encouragers. Let us spend time building each other up rather than tearing each other down. We each are a part of the same body, and as a body needs each of its parts to work together, so we each need each other to fully function. Be an encouragement.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 [NIV]