Today’s Text and Thoughts of Encouragement:
“’I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘thought and plans for peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, and require Me as a vital necessity and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’”
Jeremiah 29: 11-13
“Is your place a small place?
Tend it with care!
He set you there.
Is your place a large place?
Guard it with care!
He set you there.
Whatever your place, it is
Not yours alone, but His
Who set you there.”
Bees in Amber
Today’s Study Text:
“The bridegroom didn’t show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep.”
Matthew 25: 5
The Message Bible
“The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all become drowsy and fell asleep.”
Matthew 25: 5
“Does Delay Equal Doubt and Despair?” – Part 5
“Despair can open the heart to taste hope in God.”
Dan Alexander and Tremper Longman III
The Cry of the Soul
When times have appeared to be the most despairing in my life, what have I learned about my heavenly Father?
If I feel despairing right now, have I reached out to others at Transformation Garden to surround me with love and prayers?
“As strange as it may sound, desperation is a really good thing in the spiritual life. Desperation causes us to be open to radical solutions, willing to take all manner of risk in order to find what we are looking for.”
Ruth Haley Barton
“Perhaps in the desperation of a seemingly dead-end situation, our only recourse is to batter against the door of our fear, disbelief and inability, discovering to our surprise that it opens with the golden key of the prayer of faith.”
The Crime of Living Cautiously
The sun had set. And as the shadows of the night settled upon the bride’s home, the question was asked, “When will the bridegroom get here?” As Pastor John Buchanan observes in his commentary on Matthew 25: 1-13, “In the parable, (the 10 Bridesmaids), for whatever reason the groom does not show up on time; the hours pass, and many of the waiting wedding party fall asleep.” I found it fascinating that some historians note that it was considered, by the bridegroom’s party, rather exciting to arrive at the bride’s home, only to find the bridal party dozing off, having tired by the delay of the groom. We can well imagine how a long wait could easily be the cause of weariness on a festive day.
I will be honest with you, looking at a group of sleeping bridesmaids doesn’t seem odd to me at all. For nearly a year, I worked the night shift at a small hospital in La Grande, Oregon. I was only 21 and the other night nurse was 23. Even though we were young and energetic, about 2 A.M., if I didn’t have a lot of patients to care for, or a delivery to assist the doctor with, I would feel my eyelids getting heavy. I can’t begin to count up the cans of Coke that I consumed on some of those long nights. It was tough trying to stay awake all night long so my sympathies are with all these sleepy bridesmaids.
But let’s for a moment place this wedding within a contemporary 21st century setting. And for discussion sake, as might easily have been the case, we’ll say the time of the wedding was scheduled for 7 P.M. If perchance the bridegroom was even one hour late, the bride and her family might have been involved in a little hand wringing. If by 11 P.M. no groom appeared, the conclusion could easily be drawn that the groom had gotten cold feet and taken off to parts unknown. In this situation, delay would have fostered a spirit of desperation without a doubt.
If we overlay this story with our spiritual lives, delays, for whatever reason can also leave us with feelings of doubt and despair. When you have a deep need in your life and you lay this longing before your Father in heaven and the arrival of an answer doesn’t come on time or is apparently postponed or worse yet, never comes at all, what happens to our faith? Does delay equal doubt and despair? Has this ever happened in your own life? When our request appears to be ignored do we lose hope and think that God doesn’t care?
The author of Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan, was not only an English writer but a Baptist preacher as well. After the restoration of the monarch, when the freedom of individuals like Bunyan were limited, he was arrested and spent twelve long years in Bedford prison. Even during these extremely dark days, John Bunyan was able to pen these words:
“I would say to my soul, O my soul this is not the place of despair; this is not the time to despair in. As long as mine eyes can find a promise in the Bible, as long as there is a moment left me of breath or life in this world, so long will I wait or look for mercy, so long will I fight against unbelief and despair.”
As the English cleric and author Jeremy Taylor so encouraging wrote, “It is impossible for that (person) to despair who remembers that their Helper is omnipotent.” What an inspiration to each of us in times when delay causes us to face days of despair and even doubt. May we never forget the strength and power of our Lord.
The German poet and composer of hymn’s Georg Neumark, in the 1600’s wrote the following hymn: “If You But Trust In God To Guide You.”
“If you but trust in God to guide you
And place your confidence in Him,
You’ll find Him always there beside you,
To give you hope and strength within.
For those who trust God’s changeless love
Build on the rock that will not move.
In patient trust await His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whatever your Father’s serving,
You’ll find His promise true to be.
God never will forsake in need
The soul that trust in Him indeed.”
“Grant, O God, that amidst all the discouragements, difficulties and dangers, distress and darkness of this mortal life, I may depend upon Thy mercy, and on this build my hopes, as on a sure foundation. Let Thine infinite mercy in Christ Jesus deliver me from despair.”
His Part – My Part
You want me to trust You so totally
That I am unmoved by any circumstance:
Then work in me that steadfast trust.
You want me to choose to do right;
Then turn me from wanting any plan but Yours,
You want me to revere and honor You;
Then refresh and revive me.
You want me to obey You uninterruptedly;
Then make Your Word my guide.
You want me to depend upon You increasingly;
Then reassure me that Your promises are mine.
You want Your will to be my will;
Then help me to love Your every wish.
I expect Your help, dear Lord
For You’ve never broken a single promise
And you’re not going to start with me.”
Ruth Harms Calkin
He Can Be Trusted
“If You, dear God
To Jesus, Your Son
The salvation of the world
Throughout all eternity
Then surely I can entrust
To Jesus, my Savior
The solution to my problem
Ruth Harms Calkin
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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