I got home from work last Monday, and all I wanted to do was climb into bed and fall asleep. I had the same feeling on Tuesday. The enemy was reminding me of all the darkness in this world, as tragedy after tragedy assaulted the place that I call home. When tragedy strikes, when I’m faced with darkness, I tend to give the enemy a foothold and dwell on the tragedies that have happened in my life. I was in a tough place. I didn’t look forward to the next days and weeks with anticipation. Instead I looked to them with dread. What would happen next? What tragedy would strike? What problem would I be faced with? How would I be able to keep preaching the hope and joy that are found in Christ, despite deep darkness and real pain?
Thankfully, I have an amazing wife.
She gave me space to feel, to hurt, to shed some tears, and to rest.
Yet she made sure that I didn’t create space away from God. She made sure that I didn’t dwell on the enemy, she made sure I stayed active and thankful to God for the gifts He has given me.
She encouraged me to get into God’s Word, even when I didn’t feel like it. She encouraged me to actually commune with God, rather than just check things off a list. Thank God for her.
I have opened up my Bible this past week, reading various books. I have found comfort in a surprising place. Deuteronomy.
There are chapters upon chapters of laws in the book of Deuteronomy. They are absolutely important, but they’re not exactly the place where you might would think to find a solvent for an aching soul.
The prelude to these laws is in fact a place of great comfort to me however.
You see, in the first several chapters of Deuteronomy we hear the words of Moses to the people of God, as he recounts for them all the wondrous things that God has done for them. All the ways that He has intervened on their behalf up until this point of the Bible story. It was in reading these things that God had done for His people that my mind began to be filled with all the ways that God has worked in my life as well.
One particular image leapt off the page at me, and I’ve used it to guide my prayers this past week.
So I said to you: Don’t be terrified or afraid of them (them being great massive giants in the promised land)! The Lord your God who goes before you will fight for you, just as you saw him do for you in Egypt. And you saw in the wilderness how the Lord your God carried you as a man carries his son all along the way you traveled until you reached this place. – Deuteronomy 1:29-31
Side note. This passage at the beginning of Deuteronomy is Moses talking to the people of God about the previous generation and how they failed to listen to his words. The previous generation didn’t take these words of Moses to heart, instead rebelling against God, leading to their destruction and wanderings in the wilderness.
That last phrase is what God used to speak to me in this season.
God carried His people out of Egypt, through the wilderness, like a loving father carries his son.
Years ago, my family got a bit lost on a hike at a state park here in Texas. My younger brother Matthew was really little at the time, and the heat was beginning to take a toll on him. My dad scooped him up and carried him until we made it back to the parking lot. That’s what loving fathers do. My dad would have been wicked if he had no regard for my brother’s exhaustion.
Our Heavenly Father carries us.
In times of complete exhaustion mentally, physically, and emotionally, God is there for you and for me.
The phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is ludicrous and found nowhere in the Bible. It’s plain stupid.
Rather, God helps those who know they need Him.
This week I needed God. I needed Him to carry me. I needed Him to lift me up. I was spent.
As I sought truth in His Word and His face in prayer, I found the comfort I needed to keep moving forward.
Let’s look at one more passage real quick.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort . . . . For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. – 2 Corinthians 1:3, 8-11
Pastor Jason Meyer sees an alliteration in these verses that I believe will help us all.
Here’s the process.
Desperation. Dependence. Deliverance. Doxology.
Paul and Timothy make clear in verse eight that they were burdened beyond their strength (which reminds us that the phrase “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is also a lie that’s not found in the Scriptures). They were desperate.
Paul and Timothy’s sufferings led them to rely not on themselves, but God. We see this in verse nine. They became dependent on God to comfort them and to rescue them.
God is a God of comfort. All comfort. All mercies. God rescued Paul and Timothy from their difficulties. That’s not just part of what God does, it’s who He is. It’s in His character.
Where did this deliverance lead Paul and Timothy? It led them to praise. It led them to thanksgiving in verse eleven.
This word comfort meant “to strengthen” in Paul’s day. God did not put a blanket around them and give them a nice warm tea. He gave them strength to keep fighting, to keep going.
God has carried me this past week. He has kept me going. I can’t help but praise Him publicly for this.
I don’t know where you find yourself today.
Maybe you’re where I was last week, trying to cling to any semblance of light.
Maybe you’re in such a dark place that you can’t remember the last time you awoke with enthusiasm.
Maybe you’ve had year after year of brutal battering.
God is your Father.
He is carrying you.
God is a source of comfort. Know amount of Pizza Hut pizza, Blue Bloods, NBA basketball, or friendships were going to lift me up last week. It had to be Him.
If you’re desperate, tell Him you are dependent on Him. He will bring deliverance, and this will lead to praise.
In His Name,