(AND NO not two arm pits... :) )
Genesis 37:23 - 24
23 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they strip Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colors that was on him;
24 And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
2 Sam 23:20
20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.
Pits are scary things. Steep walls, no way out. It is a suffocating trap that gives me cold sweats.
Pit walls remind me of some steeps embankments of crumbly sandstone that surround creeks in Southeastern Kentucky. If you fall over that ledge you are essentially trapped until you can find a lower part to climb up.
The two situations remind me of two different approaches to pits. Joseph was thrown down one by his brothers in an effort to get rid of him, although I can give Ruben a pass because he meant to rescue him. And then there is Benaiah, who jumped down into a pit that had a lion in it. Pretty brave stuff on his part. I can see the rippling muscles of a weathered warrior as he set out to slay that fierce animal.
Two pits…two situations…and I would argue, two attitudes.
We don’t really know what Joseph was thinking, but later in his life he lamented that he knew what his brothers meant for evil (casting him into the pit) God used for good, so he must have all sorts of uncontrollable thoughts racing around his head at the time as to what his fate would be. I can bet he called to them to let him out. I bet he cried, pled, even threatening them to be pulled out. I can see him feeling around that pitch black hole, hoping for an escape. He probably even dealt with some pretty overwhelming fear. Admittedly, that is me most times when I’m in the deepest part of a metaphorical pit.
Enter Benaiah. We don’t know much about why he jumped down in that pit to slay that lion, but he did. His heart probably pounded as he was mere inches from menacing claws that could rip him in half and teeth that could eat him in a couple of bites. Not to mention his fingers were probably frozen with cold as he gripped his spear. But he stood firm and killed that lion. It doesn’t say he was hurt, but I can almost imagine him climbing out with deep claw marks on arms.
Isn’t that us? Sometimes we are in pits of the unknown or pits with a ferocious lion. We can either be afraid or we can slay the lion. I want to say I’ll be brave, but I bet I’d be more like Joseph, afraid.
Even if we are afraid, there is an important note here. God worked through that pit. It took years for the apparent reason for it to come to light, but it did eventually materialize. But there was battle after battle, but the reason did come. When the reason showed for Joseph, he was so overwhelmed he wept uncontrollably. Ever have that feeling? When the reason is revealed as to why you suffered and was put into a pit? It’s a beautiful moment where relief is so profound you are reduced to raw emotion.
God, I pray I learn to trust you more in the pit. Whether or not I’m being carried off to a figurative Egypt or facing a hungry lion on a snowy day. Help me to see you working in all things and through all things. Help me to trust no matter how afraid I get. Amen.
The room is full of people and your Father is across the room. You hear music playing, people talking, and even the rush of the traffic outside the door that is located behind you’re Father. At one point you could even hear the birds singing in the trees outside. However, you could not hear your Father. You asked him over and over to give you your answer, to the point where your throat hurt from the pain of screaming. You were telling him to speak louder, but he remained calm with a smile on his face. He replied at the same tone every time. He focused on you, not the room. He was persistent, but patient. Through the distorted room no matter how hard you tried you couldn’t hear him.
Until one day you remained calm. You sat down in a chair. You didn’t focus on the sounds and commotion around you. You focused your eyes on your Father. This time it felt as if you were the only two in the room. Instead of screaming, you whisper. You ask patiently and you waited. This time as HE answered his answer was clear and loud, but yet a whisper.
Sometimes when we ask God for an answer, we listen to hard for the answer. We listen to the people around us. We listen to our selfish wants and needs. If we only remained calm and patient we could hear our answer. God will never abandon us.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you
His answers may not come the way we want them to come, but if we remain faithful and our eyes fixed on him he will speak to us.
I'm thinking on the fruits of the Spirit today. Or more importantly, God is putting it on my mind.
Of course, the first thing I do is Google! Wikipedia says this, "The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is a biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a Christian life according to Paul the Apostle in his Letter to the Galatians"
BUT I THINK THIS MISSES THE POINT. The fruits of the spirit are not things we strive towards, they aren't a list of attributes of a "good Christian", THEY ARE GIFTS! Cause thank goodness, if I had to do all that on my own, I’d never get it done. Seriously, I’ve spent years beating myself up on any number of those things that I’m NOT. Hello, waistline, have you met self control? Evidently not! Patience? Have you seen me try to get out of the house in the morning? Not my strong suit.
We get "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control GIFTED to us when we ask the Holy Spirit into our lives! We can ask Him to fill our tanks, to soothe our wounds, to cover us completely. Because it's not in our striving to achieve we please Him, it's in our accepting the gifts already given. So go forth my sisters, know that you can stop striving and just start accepting! YOU ARE WORTHY, YOU ARE LOVED!
I love you and so does He,
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
2 Corinthians 1:10
“….set your hope” on Christ.
Romans 15:13 NIV
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large.
As an orphan of sorts, I grew up despising hope. Gut level, “get away from me” despise. The chaos of my house left everyone feeling like they had to be in constant survival mode, preparing yourself for the blind-sided blowup. So you learned to live with your guard up and it is exhausting.
Early on, I learned not to trust hope. Hope felt like a flimsy friend trying to pull me into a pyramid scheme. It said, “You know, if you put your money here, it will triple and you’ll be set for life”, only for me to realize I trusted Bernie Madoff.
I became the rejecter of hope. I stood back and looked at hope with its vulnerability and saw safety in pessimism. I ran headlong to safety.
Hope seemed deadly.
Hope seemed disappointing.
Hope felt bad.
Hope was terrifying.
You see, in the world, hope is setting your trust in something. If you try to hope that someone or something is going to make your life better or intervene and save you and they don’t, you become angry and bitter and begin to build walls to keep that from happening again.
You tend to learn you logically don’t want hope in your life. It’s a sad existence. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize you are actually living without hope.
But, the truth of the matter is in the hidden recesses of your mind you pant for hope, you long for hope and hunger for it like you are withering away. The dichotomy of wanting hope and rejecting the risk of reaching for it is painful. The inevitability is to simply reject hope, even though it is the very vitamin to the soul's growth.
Discarding hope is not what Jesus wants and as believers, we need to learn our hope is Jesus. It sounds like a simple enough thing to try to do, but one of the hardest that an orphan can try to learn.
As an adult believer God came in and began to deal with me over my lack of hope. I was still living the orphan mentality of survival and not in the very real and lasting hope as a child of the King. He began to speak to me that I needed to linger in his hope. Not in the surety of my bank account or career or friends. Not even in the hope of a church, but in him alone. I needed to figure out how to place my very dwelling in the center of who he is.
The bible is very clear about this too. Even though it tells us the struggles of the world are many and persecutions will come, we are to still hope. In fact, it is a command to hope. Not a happy suggestion.
Where have you set your hope? Is it squarely on the shoulders of Jesus or is it on circumstances or things around you? I challenge you to start moving your focus from the safe pessimism to the beautiful hope of Jesus. Your life will never be the same.
Jesus is hope.
No one who hopes in (God) will ever be put to shame..(Psalm 25:3)
Dear God, may the Holy Spirit come and give us the wonder of hope. Show us that our hope is only in Jesus, that it is the very nature of who he is. Let us only look to him for that and challenge us this day to focus solely him. Amen