Almost a year ago I sat down to write about Daniel 3:18. When I write, there are two different ways that I begin. First, there are moments when I am walking my dog Max and the Lord leads me to something. Second, there are moments when I am reading my Bible (many times during my lunch break), when He leads me to something and I will scrawl down some notes for later. Nonetheless, this week I was again reading Daniel 3:18 and was led to write about it. But it felt very familiar.
I considered that perhaps I had written about it before. After writing devotionals, other books, papers, sermons, lessons, etc., it was a possibility. I felt this overwhelming need to search, and then I found it, “But Even If.” Does someone need to hear it again? Yes, and God knew—it was me!
Life has been very difficult lately. Life in general is difficult, but lately I have been feeling exhausted. Not tired. Exhausted. Everything is a battle. I have followed the narrow path. But when we are on the journey God has placed before us, our expectations of the outcome might be very different from where God takes us. Hence the exhaustion. For some of us it’s frustration or even worse. But God reminds each of us that He is with us and He has a great plan for our lives. No matter where we are at on the journey, no matter what our expectations for a situation, our lips should say, “But even if he doesn’t” we will still press forward and live each day firmly rooted in Him. I’m pressing forward. He is my hope and my confidence.
“But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” – Daniel 3:18 [NLT]
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” – Psalm 25:5 [NIV]
As I was driving home from work, the sky looked scary. A storm was nearby and the sky was gray up ahead and promised a nasty storm. There was a rain shower that quickly passed. I drove toward the gray area after a long day at work. Third Day’s song “Lift Up Your Face” was playing on the radio. I was in pain and only wanted to get home and put my feet up.
I turned the corner and listened closely to the song lyrics: “Lift up your face / Salvation is calling.” I looked up and before me was this beautiful rainbow. I considered what the rainbow symbolized and remembered His promises. I thought of a day He promised where I would feel no pain—when things would be different. I considered His love- His salvation- His mercy – His forgiveness. I started to feel a lot better.
Today lift up your face. Focus on God. Remind yourself of His promises to you—His Word—His mercy—His love. Remind yourself that He makes all things new. Remind yourself that things will not always be like this—He has promised us restoration.
“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” – Proverbs 4:25 [ESV]
We all have moments when we are not at our best—moments we would like to erase from our memory. The other day I had one of those moments. I could make excuses and say I was run down, tired, in pain and all of them are true; however, there was a way around the mess that arose. Sadly we so often make that mental note after the fact.
The problems that arose involved three big factors—two that I already mentioned. Firstly, I was in pain. Secondly, I was tired. Pain and exhaustion cause us to react differently than we usually act. You are more sensitive, less patient, more irritable. Thirdly, I had things bottled up. A few weeks prior, things had occurred that I did not get to yet discuss so they were still sitting there in the pot. Oh what a pot that boiled over that evening.
Yes, we all have the moments. Thankfully I have a lot less of them. Today, remember to address things right away. Don’t bottle things up so they can boil over later. Be sure to get the rest your body needs. If you are in pain or distress, address that as well. Don’t leave any room for the devil to stir up a boiling pot so it boils over.
“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” – Psalm 127:2 [NLT]
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32 [NLT]
“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” – Lamentations 3:23 [NLT]
When I take my morning walk I usually catch the same neighbor in the middle of washing or drying his car, depending on when I pass his home. I’m sure anyone would agree that right after you get your car washed and shined up, something happens to get it dirty. In our area we have a local company that continues to spread dust as the big work trucks drive past. The pollen and the birds add to the many reasons that a washed car doesn’t stay clean.
So each morning this man gets out and washes his car, taking special care to ensure it is dry and looking like it just was pulled off the car dealership lot. It reminds me how each new morning is a blessing for us, another opportunity to start over. His mercies are new every morning. No matter how dirty, how defeated, how drained we may have felt the day prior, in the morning, we are given another day full of His mercy, His grace, His faithfulness.
These past few months have been a challenge for so many people. There are days when the struggles bring a feeling of defeat. But remember that God is not finished and He is faithful. Every morning His mercies are new. We may be down, but we won’t be down forever. We may feel defeated, but we won’t always be defeated. We may be tired, but with Christ, we have rest.
On a recent trip I drove from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. The drive did not seem so long except when we were in Virginia. It seemed like Virginia went on forever. When I compared the time we spent in Maryland and West Virginia, it was very apparent that the journey as longer. I started to feel exhausted. I started to doubt if we would ever get out of Virginia and reach our destination. The trip did not look like this on Google Maps.
As we understand our journeys in life, we usually have some sort of perception of what to expect. We use our knowledge, our experiences, and even other experiences to help prepare us for what lies ahead with the current road we are traveling. The problem arises when reality is very different from what we expected. We start to lose momentum, to get exhausted, to even have doubts.
Don’t give up. If God has called you to do something, you will reach the finish line. The road is not always going to be quick or smooth, but He is faithful. Focus on God, not on your expectations of the situation. We cannot know 100% what the situation will bring our way, but we can trust our unchanging God. I eventually made it to North Carolina and you will eventually reach your destination as well. Keep pressing forward. We each have a long road ahead of us, but it promises us a beautiful future.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24