Monthly Archives: May 2018
“For the Lord your God knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you” (Deuteronomy 2:7).
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen,
Nobody knows my sorrow
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus.
The beautiful old African-American spiritual was a testament to the struggles and the faith of the slaves of the 1800’s. Louie Armstrong recorded the song in 1962 and many more have followed. This song could have also been sung by the early church martyrs and even the Israelites who fled Egypt and set out toward the Promised Land. It reminds us that life is hard, sometimes very hard, but God is aware and He is with us.
As the second generation of Israelites prepared to cross over the Jordan River, Moses reminded them of their own history and warned them not to turn again to the rebellious ways of their fathers. Earlier, when they had neared Canaan, Moses sent twelve scouts to look over the land and bring a full report. They confirmed that the land was rich and desirable, but they balked at taking on the current occupants, fearing they would be destroyed. Their disobedience resulted in forty years of wandering to allow the unfaithful generation to die so that the next generation – hopefully wiser and more faithful than their parents – could go in. It was forty years of hardship and drudgery – “trudging through the great wilderness.” For the faithless Israelites it was long, hard journey to nowhere.
I think “trudging” is a great word to describe life sometimes. It brings up the image of weary feet-dragging and endless, pointless plodding in a dry and unfriendly terrain. Life feels like that sometimes, doesn’t it? Day after day after day of struggle and difficulty. You try to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, but even that feels like more than you can do at times. You wonder if anyone sees you. If anyone cares.
My friend, I promise you, on the Word of God and my own life experience, Someone does. Someone sees every step you take. Someone hears every sigh and catches every tear. You know who that Someone is – it is God, the Creator, the Almighty, the Sovereign One. He is watching over you, just as He watched over the Israelites in their forty-year trek across the wilderness. Not only was He watching over them, He was with them. Close enough to see the weariness on their faces. And day by day by day He cared for them. He led them. He fed them. He provided for them.
I know sometimes it feels like you are all alone in your struggles but be assured God is with you. He is near and He cares about you. He will lead you. He will provide for you. He will comfort you and encourage you – it’s what He loves to do. If He cared enough to send His one and only Son to die for you, do you think He will forget you in your daily struggles? Oh Beloved, I understand – I’ve been through some very hard times. I’m in a difficult season right now. At times I thought I was all alone – especially when my troubles were self-made. But God has always been good, He has never abandoned me, and He will never abandon you.
The Israelites found God faithful. The early church and the martyrs of the first century and beyond found Him to be the same. And so have I. He has never let His people down. He has never left them alone in their struggles. He has not changed. He is as good and faithful today as He was hundreds, even thousands of years ago.
When you think, “Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen,” remember “the Lord your God knows.” He is near and ready to help.
Holy Father, some days feel like I’m trudging through an endless wilderness. I need Your help and the comfort of Your presence. Help me to trust that You are watching over me and that you are with me every step of the way. Amen.
Life Lessons in the School of Hard Knocks
“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Psalm 119:71
I am somewhat hard-headed and tend to learn life lessons in the “School of Hard Knocks.” I’ve found that the most effective teacher in life is consequence. Or as my Mom used to say “Bought lessons stay with you longer than taught lessons,” and I have paid dearly for some lessons. I learned to choose more carefully who I hung around when I sat through a police interrogation on prom night. I learned the value of money when I found myself deep in debt. I learned to pay attention to my driving when I ran a red light and t-boned a car. But the most important life lesson I learned wasn’t from my own failure – it came from the life of Peter.
In the Lord’s most vulnerable moments, Peter denied knowing Jesus. As his Friend stood trial before the High Priest, his boldest disciple was arguing about his association with the one he had previously declared as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:13). Peter repeatedly rebuffed accusations that he was one of Jesus’ followers. And when, as his Friend prophesied, the rooster crowed, Peter realized what he has done and “he went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). He was brokenhearted over his betrayal.
Thankfully the police didn’t lock me up, I paid off my bills, and the DMV allowed me to drive again. And blessedly, Jesus gave Peter another chance. After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter and the boys went back to fishing, and Jesus showed up on the beach with breakfast and forgiveness. Three times Peter had denied Jesus. Three times Jesus gave Peter the opportunity to profess love for his Lord and friend. Jesus healed Peter’s broken heart with overflowing grace. He reaffirmed His call on Peter’s life and this formerly unfaithful disciple preached the first evangelistic sermon, and three thousand souls were nourished and saved by the Gospel.
The lesson: God’s not done with me just because I messed up.
Peter’s life shows us that the mistakes we make, our failures and missteps are not the end. God doesn’t write us off, wash His hands of us or give up on us because we are hard-headed. If that were so, mankind would have never made it past Adam and Eve, much less to you and me. All through the Bible God tells us that He is patient, forgiving, compassionate, merciful and full of grace. He loves you, even when your knees are bloody because you fell. He loves me, even when I am covered in the stench of my own choices. Jesus died so you and I can be forgiven; So that we could have a second chance at life. Or a third or a seventeenth.
Have you made a mistake somewhere along the way? Have you run in the wrong direction, played with the wrong people, kept going when you should have stopped? Have you professed Jesus as your Lord then denied Him by your words and actions? Take heart Beloved, God has not given up on you. Take your mistakes, your failures, your denials, and your sins and place them before your loving Heavenly Father. Then take the nail-scarred hand of Jesus and start walking, a little wiser, in the right direction.