There's a woman in the Bible that gained her fame by saying only one sentence! She's not famous in a good way and people don't honor her at all. See, this lady had seven children and three daughters, who all got killed one evening. She and her husband had riches that you and I could only dream of. However, all was burned and destroyed in the same night. The Bible says that her husband, "Job", was considered righteous in the eyes of God. However, God allowed this family to go through a lot of pain. And to top it off, Job was struck with a very bad skin disease. He was left itching and scraping all day and night; wishing He was dead. After seeing all of this, his wife finally spilled out the words that made her well-known. She said to Job, "Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die" (Job 2:9 NLT).
We all attack her for what she said. It was wrong. No doubt about that. Instead of sticking with her husband and being loving to him while he's sick, she tells him to curse God so that God may strike and kill him. Nevertheless, think about it this way. This woman knew that cursing God would NOT be taken lightly. She was angry, frustrated and hopeless. One day she had a family and a home, and the next day she lost it all. We forget when we hear the story about Job's suffering that his wife faced the same struggles that he did. She was a mom and suddenly all her children died, and she was left caring for a man that looked terrible and prayed for death every day. This woman was not so horrible. She was simply human. Aren't we all faced with things too big for us that make us raise our fist against God, or at least bow our heads to the ground in despair?
This woman's name remains anonymous and her suffering remains ignored to this day by us, the self-righteous people. In my opinion, the difference between her and Job was one thing. While she gave up on God, Job decided to fight it out with Him. Chapter after chapter in the book of "Job" you can hear his tone, asking God for answers. Job was complaining to God. He said the most hurtful things. He objected. He demanded to know why God allowed that to happen him. She, on the other hand, just wanted to end it all. And as her man fought so fiercely, he made the sweetest proclamation. He said,"But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body i will see God! I will see Him for myself. Yes, I will see Him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought" (Job 19: 25-27 NLT)! When I read that I thought to myself, wasn't he angry with God before? How come he's thrilled at the thought of seeing His creator? Isn't that weird?
For Job, I feel that he was ready to get angry with God, complain to Him, and fight His way through. Nevertheless, he was NOT planning to let go of Him at all. It's as if he's wrestling with God by holding on to Him at all times. He said, "I will not let You go!" The Bible shows us that God responded later. He didn't just answer with words, He also restored everything back to Job and his wife. He gave them double the possessions they had before and exactly the same number of children. Job lived a successful and happy life. I'm pretty sure He regretted many things He had accused God of, but not the fact that He fought it out with Him.
God comes through, even when the heavens seem shut. He comes through, when we hold on to Him tight. So today, whatever battle you find yourself in, cling to Him with everything you got. He understands your anger and your frustration. Whatever you do, just don't turn your back and lose hope of Him intervening. Fight it out with Him. Trust me; it's way better than giving up. Let your joy and hope be that your Redeemer lives. He lives and He sees it all.
Clinging to Him,
Have you ever seen a man carrying around his own mattress? I mean, sure there are lots of great mattresses out there these days, the memory foam mattress, the orthopedic mattress... But for you to get up one day and take your mattress to work; it doesn't make any sense, does it?
One day, Jesus encountered four guys who were on a mission to help a friend. They hopped on the roof of the house Jesus was staying in, took out some tiles, then lowered their friend into the opening for Jesus to see. Their friend was paralyzed, laying on a mat. He literally lived on that mat, even took it with him on every outing. I can only imagine what he was thinking as his friends carried him through the streets to get to Jesus. I can only imagine the conversations they had on the way:
-Okay, so let's hope it's not very crowded over there.
-Are you guys sure that this is a good idea?
-What kind of question is that? Of course. We're not going to back down before we get Jesus to see you and heal you. Haven't you had enough?
Amazingly the scriptures tell us,"When Jesus saw their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven" (Luke 5: 20). It seems like Jesus was moved by the faith of those four friends, not the faith of the paralytic. Perhaps the Bible mentioned that because their actions were loud and clear. However, I do wonder if that man was indeed ready to leave his mat yet! I say that because even after Jesus announced to him that his sins were forgiven, the paralytic stayed motionless while by-standers argued with Jesus about words and His authority to "forgive sins". The paralytic did NOT try to move until Jesus spoke to him AGAIN, precisely ordering him, “I tell you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home” (v.24). That's when the man finally got separated from his "portable bed". The time had come for him to carry what's been carrying him around for so long!
How often do we carry around our own mat? I'm sure you're not doing that literally (that would be weird). However, there may be things in your life that you kind of got used to - things that carry you around through life. Things that have shaped the way you live, interact with others, even think. You got used to them so much that they have become your new normal. The sin that you keep falling in, the fears that haunt your days, the wrong friendships that are dragging you down and away from God, the unholy dates you've been going on. I don't know what it is, but you may have gotten used to something, even if it's bad for you and doesn't please God. You kind of carry it around; assuming that it's okay. I can hear Jesus uttering the same command today to you and me: GET UP. PICK UP YOUR MAT. GO HOME.
It's time for you to carry what's been carrying you around, even dragging you for so long. By "pick up your mat" the Lord means: be separated from it. Be free. Hold it up high in proclamation that this will NOT define who you are any more. You are no longer "the paralytic", you are the child of God. Notice how the Bible doesn't even mention the name of that guy, since his problem defined who he was. No more! God has given you a name and He says you are chosen, you are loved, and you are healed. So my friend, it is time to get up and carry whatever's been carrying you.
Free in Him,
I woke up at 4:30 a.m. the other night and I couldn't go back to sleep. I sneaked into the the kitchen, grabbed a banana (Don't judge! I have the right to snack), sat on one of the kitchen stools watching the starry sky. It was breathtaking! I could see the same star constellations that I used to watch from my bedroom window in Lebanon, as a teenager. In the stillness of the moment, I found myself hanging out with God. I began to thank Him for all those years, for being faithful to bring me to that specific moment in life. He took me back in memory to all those nights I spent praying about situations, people, even my past struggles with singleness. Here I am years later; lots of His promises have been fulfilled. He's never let me down.
Thousands of years ago Abraham took a walk under the stars as God promised him saying,“Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them... So shall your offspring be”(Genesis 15:5). Years went by, Abraham lost hope of having a child at times. However, God did come through, giving him the son he long awaited. The Bible is full of true records of people; just like you and me, who expected a promise from God. Other than Abraham, I could think of many names like Hanna, the barren women that prayed in tears for a child in the temple (1 Samuel 1). How about Zechariah and Elizabeth who obviously prayed and prayed for a baby till it seemed like it was too late (Luke 1:13)? I could list many stories and names and I would still not cover every promise that God has fulfilled. My point is, every time God promised, He delivered. Not only this, what's significant is that He delivered MIGHTILY. What do I mean? Well, notice the following. When God makes a promise, He offers God-sized gifts.
To Abraham God gave "Isaac", who later became the father to the entire nation of Israel. To Hanna God gave "Samuel", who later became a great prophet and judge to the people. To Zechariah and Elizabeth God gave "John", who prepared the way before the Savior of the world "Jesus Christ". I'm not saying that God is going to send you a baby in the mail, or anything like that. Don't freak out! But I do know that you may very well have a promise from God. Perhaps, a promise to graduate against all odds, or meet the man/woman of your dreams. You may have a promise from God to see a family member come to know Jesus and be changed. When God fulfills a promise -even if He takes much longer than you'd like- He gives abundantly and He'll surprise you.
Right now I am nine-months pregnant (which explains the mid-night snacking). I'm feeling restless, swollen, achy and more... but you know what I'm also feeling? I'm feeling my baby kicking, pushing, and poking me from the inside. The kicks aren't always gentle and soft. I say that to tell you; there's a promise inside of you, a long-awaited dream. Something's nudging you on the inside, keeping you awake, maybe even dragging you in tears before God. I want to encourage you today; God never forgets a promise He made. Even though it may feel like you're the only one that is waiting and hoping, let His word stir within you night and day until it comes to pass. Don't give up. And remember, after all He is GOD Almighty, His gifts reflect His greatness.
Waiting on Him,