Job 42:10 NLT
Judah faced huge destruction after the people had continually been disobedient to God. Joel wrote that ‘What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten’ (Joel 1:4 NIV). Sometimes it can feel like things in our lives have been destroyed too. It can feel like locusts have devoured our hope, our success, our joy, and our relationships. But even when everything seems like a mess, and there doesn’t seem to be any way forward, there is hope. Later in the book of Joel, God says: ‘I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…my great army that I sent among you’ (Joel 2:25 NIV). Other translations use the words ‘restore’ (ESV) or ‘give you back’ (NLT) instead of ‘repay’. God’s promising to bring goodness back to Judah again. He’s promising to restore all that was lost and destroyed. And He can bring restoration to our lives too. In the Bible, we read about a man called Job who faced immense loss. He lost his health, his wealth, and his family. But, in the last chapter of the book of Job it says, ‘The Lord restored his fortunes…The Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning’ (Job 42:10-12 NLT). Not only was Job’s life restored, but He was blessed even more. If we’re feeling like we’re broken and that our life is a mess, let’s put our trust in the One who can restore us. And let’s have hope that we’ll see God’s blessing more than we ever have before.
Acts 10-11; Luke 8:40-56; Ps 14; Prov 16:6-7
Genesis 27:19 NIV
Ever found yourself in competition with a friend or family member? In the Bible, we read about the brothers Esau and Jacob. Their parents had favourites. Isaac preferred the eldest son, Esau, while Rebekah preferred her second child Jacob. This favouritism may have been what started the competition between the brothers. Or maybe Jacob simply didn’t like being the youngest. In those days, the eldest received a special blessing and had rights that the younger son didn’t get. Jacob, along with his mother Rebekah, decided to plot against Esau and tricked Isaac into blessing him instead. The Bible tells us that ‘Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn”‘ (you can read the full story in Genesis 27). The competition in this family didn’t stop there. Jacob later married two sisters: Leah and Rachel. He loved Rachel more and Leah resented her for that. Leah could have children while Rachel couldn’t, which caused Rachel to resent Leah. Both competed against each other. Leah tried to win Jacob’s love while Rachel tried to have children to keep up with Leah. When competition and comparison takes root, we lose focus of who God has created us to be and things He’s planned for us to do. It can lead to messy situations and a breakdown in relationships. Maybe there isn’t someone who we’re directly competing with, but there are posts on social media which make us feel inadequate and we try and change our behaviour to keep up with others. Maybe we only feel good about ourselves when we’re achieving more than other people. Instead of competing and comparing, we need to be confident in our identity as children of God, and focus on doing the things He’s called us to do.
2 Kings 7-9; Luke 1:1-10; Ps 73:1-16; Prov 13:17-19
Job 11:16 NLT
Let’s talk about arrested emotional development. When you don’t get help for your past emotional hurts, you’ll find yourself “acting out,” treating others like you were treated, and repeating your past in your present. Indeed, you may end up hurting the most important people in your life, maybe even destroying those relationships without knowing why. You’ll blame the failure of the relationship on your partner’s habits, looks, attitudes, and way of going about things. And in so doing, you will remain emotionally stuck, trapped by the unhealed, unrecognized sources of your dysfunction. What you’re dealing with here is “emotional junk”: regrets over past mistakes, grudges over being wronged, and all the other hurts you hide under clouds of anger, cynicism, and reclusiveness. You will never know what you have, or what you truly need, until you get rid of your emotional junk. How do you do that? The answer can be found in God’s Word and God’s presence: “Prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety…and many will look to you for help” (vv. 13-19 NLT).
Soul food: 1 Kings 21-22; Mark 14:27-42; Ps 129; Prov 12:27-28
Job 11:16 NCV
We also need to develop emotionally. When we don’t get help for our past emotional hurts, we can find ourselves acting out of character. We might treat others like we were treated, and hurt the most important people in our lives. Our relationships might even end up falling apart. Being stuck in the past is not what God wants for us. He has new things He wants to do in and through us. Isaiah 43 says: ‘Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it?’ (vv.18-19 NCV). If we’re still emotionally tied to our past, we’ll struggle to step into the new things ahead of us. Regret, bitterness, resentment, anger, and hurt keep us trapped. But it’s often easier said than done to let go of them and move on. In the Bible, Job faced a lot of trouble and heartache. When he was struggling, one of his friends gave him this advice: ‘You must give your whole heart to [God] and hold out your hands to him for help…You will forget your trouble and remember it only as water gone by’ (Job 11:13-16 NCV). We need to hand everything over to God and ask Him to help us work through these situations and emotions. We can’t simply forget about them or pretend that we’re not bothered by them anymore. That will just make things harder in the long run. Instead, we need to go through the process of dealing with them so we can ultimately find healing and freedom. It’s possible for us to move on and develop emotionally, we just need to be open to the process God wants to take us through.
1 Kings 21-22; Mark 14:27-42; Ps 129; Prov 12:27-28
James 1:2 NLT
When difficulties come to us in life and in our relationships, as they inevitably will, it’s easy to succumb to the “dominoes of despair.” First, we become disappointed with an event or relationship. Then as the trial lingers, we topple into discouragement and surrender our expectations that things will change. Finally, as we feel the impossibility of moving the object against which we lean, we succumb to the last domino of despair. We feel powerless and hopeless, and don’t know how to see our way clear. Instead of running our life’s race, it feels like we’re swimming below the surface in an ocean of Jell-O. Often when we can’t understand life’s circumstances, we limit our expectations of who God is and what He can do. We think there’s only one good outcome – the one we want! Instead, we need to trust our heavenly Father because He may have bigger and better things in mind. We must try to see Him at work in whatever trials come our way. Remember, God’s expectations are bigger than our own, and only our heavenly Father and His purposes, no matter how painful they seem at the moment, truly satisfy our souls. James writes: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (vv. 2-4 NLT). Keep that truth uppermost in your mind today, and you won’t give in to despair.
Soul food: 1 Kings 8-9; Mark 12:28-44; Ps 113; Prov 12:15-17