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"Hang in there"

1 Samuel 19:8-12

“ Once more war broke out, and David went out and fought the Philistines. He struck them with such force that they fled before him. But an evil spirit from the Lord came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre, Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape. Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped.

I dislike bad days. I suppose everyone dislikes bad days as I've never met anyone who said, "this day has been horrible....isn't it great?!" And sometimes we have bad months, or seasons, and unfortunately bad years. It's miserable and unpleasant. It's hard and frustrating. It makes us angry; it makes us cry. Everyone experiences difficult times now and then, even those among us who seem to have the most charmed lives. We deal with grief and the sudden loss of a loved one. We deal with physical, chronic pain. We deal with a lack of finances and overwhelming debt. We struggle with loneliness. We suffer ridicule and rejection. We find ourselves in dark places of depression. We lose our jobs. We have to move away from all we know and love. We undergo surgeries, some that work and some that don't. We experience the pain and anger of divorce. We have life altering moments that cannot be reversed. We are forced to watch our loved ones suffer while we are unable to change their circumstances. Sometimes life is like a bunch of swear words that we do or do not say. Sometimes life is hard, very hard.

And we read the Bible and perhaps find comfort, confusion, frustration, anger or all of the above. Rest assured you are in good company. The Bible is filled with people who suffered, and sometimes at great cost and for decades. David, the same victorious David who slayed the giant Goliath, he knew what it was like to have bad days. The same David who would become the king all other kings would be measured against, this David knew what it was like to experience pain. Among other things, David had the rare opportunity to know what it is like to be hunted like an animal by your best friend's dad (who also happened to be the first king of Israel). There were times in David's life when any number of people were out to kill him, including one of his sons.

Yet I marvel at how he continues in faithfulness to God. Following our scripture above, David gets an opportunity to kill Saul and preserve his own life, but he does not take it. His integrity stays with him even in trial. Both Psalms 57 and 59 are written by David in reference to this "difficult" time in his relationship with Saul. I love what he says in Psalm 57:9-11, "I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth." I wish I could say such things when life hurts.

It is truly a challenge (and sometimes a seemingly impossible feat) to be always praising the Lord, to find joy in all circumstances as we are encouraged to do in James 1:2. I know that most often when life is challenging for me, I don't instinctively think of how blessed I am to suffer so. Rather, I am angry and impatient and ready for things to improve! Maybe you can relate. And though getting angry and kicking and screaming seems like just the thing I need to do to feel better, it doesn't really work. On the contrary, when I stop and give thanks and praise the Lord, my mood does begin to improve. My circumstances may still be the same, but my outlook lightens and I begin to think that even if nothing changes, I may just make it because God is with me.

A few years back my friend, Rev. Bert Neal, preached at a revival on the book of Job. His sermon was called, "There's a Blessing on the Other Side of Through". He talked about how we need to press on through the hardships of life and hold on to the promise that God is with us always and that He is working out His best for us. Pastor Neal said that we should not only praise God for what He gives but also for what He takes away; that might be just what we need. Job's charmed life is brought to a screeching halt in just a short matter of time. Yet God is with Job and the end of his days is filled with blessing and joy. On through to the other side was a blessing waiting for him. Hang in there. Do not give up. God loves you. He sees you. You matter to him. He cares for you. You are not alone. Look for the blessing. Trust God to be with you and to sustain you. You'll make it.

Life does not always go like we want, and pain is inevitable. But we serve a great and awesome God. Cling to him. Find comfort in Him. He alone can sustain us!

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!" John 16:33

God, we need you. Please help us. Come to our aid once again. Remind us of your faithfulness. Help us in the midst of difficulty and trial that we might find peace in you. Help us to trust you.

Have courage and keep the faith,

Pastor Michelle

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