August 22, 2006
"When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it." (Genesis 28: 16)
Early in the morning Abraham was on his way up Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son Isaac at the command of God. Little did he know that God was on the other side of the thicket preparing the ram for the sacrifice. His son would live. Isaac was feeling sad because of the death of his mother, Sarah, but little did he know that the camels were coming down the road, bringing the love of his life, Rebekah. Joseph was in a pit and a prison, mistreated, falsely accused and forgotten. Little did he know that behind the scenes God was preparing for him, a palace. Moses had left Egypt as a fugitive. No more palace for Moses. He became an alien in a foreign land. Little did he know that there was a burning bush on the mountain of God. His life would be transformed forever. Gideon was the least of his family. His family was the least of the tribes. But God would turn him into a mighty warrior. David was tending sheep and God was preparing his destiny to be a king. Esther, oh my favorite Esther! Brought to Persia, for "such a time as this." Appointed by God to save a nation, but unaware of God's plan for her life. Peter, James, John....fishing, living ordinary lives until Jesus....Saul falling off of his horse on the Damascus road. Meeting Jesus....all part of the plan. Surely the Lord was in those places all along, but they were not aware of it.
I believe that Scripture was written for us to be examples, warnings and encouragements. (see 1 Corinthians, Ch. 10) All of the people we just read about, who were real flesh and blood individuals like ourselves, went through trials. And possibly they were unaware that God was with them all the time. How about you? What place are you in today? Do you feel God in your situation? Or does it seem that He has forgotten you?
We cannot live our lives by what things feel like. We must know and believe "truth". As we saw earlier, things are not always what they seem to be. And God does not show favoritism, He is no respecter of persons (Romans 2: 11). If He was there in those people's crises, He is in yours as well.
I'll bet that you can even look back at your own life for the same kind of encouragement. How many times have you prayed for something and God did not answer quite the way that you wanted Him to? And then, on the other side of the mountain, maybe even years later, the light goes on and you say, "Ahh, I see now. God knew what He was doing. He was there." They say that hindsight is always 20/20, but we have to believe, in the midst of the trouble, that God is present. He is there. He does have a perfect plan and He'll be there until the storm has passed. If you trust your feelings, you'll lose heart because you will not always feel His presence. But that does not mean He is not there. You just may not be aware of it. But facts are facts. He has promised to NEVER leave you or forsake you. He is there.
In Genesis 28, after Jacob woke up from his dream and realized that God was there, he set up a memorial. People would be reminded for years to come that God was there in Jacob's loneliness. We don't set up memorial stones anymore these days. But may I suggest, if you are in a pit of despair today, that you get a paper and pen and think of all of the times that God provided for you. All the times that He delivered you from harm. All of the prayers He answered and especially all of the times you realized that He had been there all along. All of the times that later, when the storm had passed, you saw that He was there after all and that His plan and His answer was the best action for the problem. It always is, you know. When discouragement sets in, get our your list and encourage yourself in the Lord and in His faithfulness to you throughout the years. He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. I can't speak for you, but I can honestly say that my God has NEVER let me down. I may not have understood. I may have thought my plan was better. I may have not been too keen on the timing. But not once has He ever disappointed me, abandoned me or harmed me. Truly, Romans 8:28 is true..."in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
God is with you right now. Be aware of it. Don't wait for some future date to realize He was there all along. Believe it now! Wherever you are..whatever you're going through.... If you're lonely. If you're ill. If you're feeling abandoned. If you're rejected by someone you love. If there are more bills than money to go around. If your child is running wild. If your boss doesn't appreciate you. If people are talking about you. If your husband ran off with the devil with the blue dress on. If you lost your job. If you didn't get that raise you worked so hard for. If you're in jail, rehab, the hospital or just alone in your room.....He is there. He has a perfect plan for your life. He knows what's best and when the best time is.
As they say, "this too shall pass". And when this is over you will set up a memorial to God that He was surely in this place with you. Loving you, caring for you, protecting you, sustaining you, strengthening you, giving you His grace, His strength, His mercy, His help, His peace, His provision and His protection. Never giving you more than you can bear. But giving you amazing grace to bear it. You survived!
Peter Marshall said, "God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty." Everything must pass through His loving hands before it gets to you. Trust Him. He loves you. He is with you. Believe it! Along with Jacob say, "Surely the Lord is in this place." Because He is!
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