Strength Amidst Difficulty

It’s early evening on a Tuesday and I’m already feeling like getting ready for bed. I stand up from my couch to go make dinner and my right knee aches. I’ve gone for a post-work run and the lingering discomfort of a dislocated patella suffered in my Senior year of college still plagues me after running on the hard cement. My mind runs through the stories and hurts that my students, friends, and neighbors are battling through. I make my sandwich and take my vitamin, taking a seat at my dining room table. My mind goes forward to the following day as I think and pray about the upcoming youth group night. We’ve had an incredible weekend where God has shown up, however the pressure of maintaining the camaraderie of my students in the midst of the normal status quo weighs on me a little bit too.

It’s a normal day, and the hard circumstances of my own body, my relationships, and my work are here with me.

Here’s the wonderful beauty of the gospel though. I can take these things to the Lord. In prayer, I laid out all of these before my God and Father, and the God-who-hears quieted my heart and mind with His love.

My prayer life is not anything special, exciting, or amazing. It’s simply me telling God what He already knows. In the case of last night, it was me sharing with Him the hardships I felt around me in my body, my relationships, and my work. We all face these to some degree each and every day.

In my prayers, this verse finds fulfillment:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28

The act of simply praying my difficult circumstances to the Lord brings me peace and rest. The majority of the time, my circumstances don’t change as a result of my prayers. Instead, my perspective is what changes after I present my requests to God.

In the case of last night, I journaled and prayed through a Psalm. Slowly but surely as the night went on I found myself encouraged and lifted up by reflecting on the ways that God was blessing my body, my relationships, and my work.

Due to changes in my diet, my body feels better than it has in a while. Due to modern technology, last night I was able to spend time with and have fun with my friends. God showed up in marvelous ways at the Disciple Now we put on, bringing 3 students to salvation as well as a litany of other spiritual decisions. Prayer reminded me that yes, life is hard sometimes, but God also blesses me in great ways each day.

 

The omnipresence of God brings the courage and strength necessary to wade through the gritty brokenness of our world and its impact on our bodies, relationships, and vocations. That’s why prayer is becoming more and more beautiful to me, since it reminds me of that reality of God’s presence.

This morning I read Joshua 1:1-9 in my time of study and the familiar verses of God’s promises to and commissioning of Joshua was a needed encouragement that He is present and we have no need to be afraid.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

Now, this statement of God recorded in Scripture is not to us, it is to Joshua. But the truth of God’s presence is shown throughout Scripture and so we should respond to it the same way that God calls Joshua to respond to it: by being strong and courageous.

What Joshua faced is incredible. The first leader of the nation (Moses) of Israel has been God’s instrument of rescue from Egypt, and led the people through the wilderness and the Law of God. Moses dies and now Joshua is tasked with leading the nation into the promised land and into war. I can’t imagine the pressure, anxiousness, or weight of this endeavor. To follow a charismatic leader had to have been hard. To lead a perpetually fearful people into war had to have been even harder.

With all of this looming, God reminded His servant that He would be present.

This day, you will face physical, relational, and vocational difficulties.

This day, God is present.

This day, you can be strong and courageous.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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