“We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one. I’m not scared, what a beautiful day!”
A popular children’s story, That shares the story of a family going on a bear hunt and facing various obstacles on the way. Long wavy grass, a river, a dark forest. Each time, they realise they can’t go over it, or under it. They have to go through it.
Long wavy grass.
We can’t go over it.
We can’t go under it.
We’ve got to go through it!
Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy!
And there’s a lesson for all of us – it’s the same with life. Trials and hardship can come our way and the only way to the other side is through it. That might feel like a harsh reality. But no matter our circumstances, Jesus is there with us, beside us as we go through.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4, ESV).
In order for there to be a shadow, there also must be a light. And that light is Jesus. He walks in the valley with us and we are not alone.
“Fear sees only the dark of the valley. Faith sees the light of the shepherd.” (Jenn Rothschild)
It must have felt so odd to the Israelites. They’re facing an impenetrable walled city. They must take it. But how? You can imagine them looking to Joshua. Wanting the plan, the tactics. The clever strategy to win this battle.
Yet, the simpliest, most illogical of plans is presented. To walk around the city, for six days and on the seventh day, to do so seven times. It seems like one crazy strategy, for as James Boice wrote “high walls do not fall to the noise of tramping feet; cities are not won by trumpets.”
But the walls did fall and Jericho was taken. The battle though was not fought by the Israelites for God had already won it.
“Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.” (Joshua 6:2)
Before the march around Jericho had begin, the Lord had declared victory already.
How often do we in life face battles? Insurmountable odds. We want the clever strategy too. We want the silver bullet. But if there’s one thing that we can learn from the Israelities and Jericho is to trust God even when it doesn’t make sense. To remember that the Battle belongs to the Lord.
This is how we fight our battles.
“I will rest in your promises. My confidence is your faithfulness”
We all have those tough days, tough weeks…tough seasons. Sometimes even the very present minute is hard. Then there are the times when there is nothing more to be done. It is out of our hands. When we begin our walk through the valley.
We all know these moments – the ones just before we walk into the board room, or as we sit in the Hospital waiting room. The moments waiting for the exam to start. When there is nothing else we can do. When the enemy wants us to begin to doubt, to fear. When he wants us to lose our peace. And that we would lose our awareness of the presence of God in our situation.
Whatever your valley looks like. Have confidence in the promises of God. He is true to all His promises. This is the time to lean into God. To rest in His promises and who He says He is. He is in control. He is there with us, every step of the way. Our confidence doesn’t need to rely on the circumstances or people around us, we can place our confidence securely in who Jesus is.
“Faith in Christ has been the great empowering presence in my life, helping me walk strong when so often I feel so weak.” (Bear Grylls)
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4)
All His promises are yes and amen (2 Corinthians 1:18-20)
I’ll praise before my breakthrough
‘Til my song becomes my triumph
I will sing because I trust You
I will bring my heart, I will lift my song
Sometimes we can find ourselves in life where praising God just seems too hard. Entering into praise seems the exact opposite of what we feel like doing. But praising God when you don’t feel like isn’t fake, it’s faith. Lifting up praise about His faithfulness in the midst of our struggles is faith. It’s not pretence. It’s not saying our circumstances are all good when they’re not, rather it’s about putting our trust in God, regardless of our circumstances.
When we look at King David, he lived a life of worship. In good days and bad days, in all circumstances. He praised God as a king in his palace. He also praised God while living as a hunted man hiding in a cave. We too are called to worship God in all seasons of life. For praise to be a lifestyle. Indeed, it says in Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times”.
Praise puts the focus on God and who He is. It keeps Him in His rightful place. Above. Above our circumstances, our realities, battles and pain.
The good news too is that praise is a weapon like no other. When we praise God, things happen, atmospheres shift, breakthroughs come. In Acts we read of Paul and Silas, worshipping while shackled in prison. Suddenly there was an earthquake that caused all the prison doors to open and everyone’s chains become loose. Praise opens doors, breaks chains and sets us free.
Praise makes the enemy flee. It pushes back the darkness. Praise allows God to step in and fight our battles for us.
I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies
I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah, heaven comes to fight for me
In the face of praise, giants of fear, of despair or hopelessness all fall. Praise is how we fight our battles. Praise invites God to step into our circumstances.
“The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. He is my God and I will praise Him” (Exodus 15:2)
It was definitely a wild storm that night. Thunder, lightning, and then a mini tornado through our suburb. We heard a mssive bang which turned out was the sound of our fence being blown over. It wasn’t until morning that we could really see what damage had been done. The driveway was a mess, our reycling bin had been picked up and thrown down the drive to our neighbours leaving its contents trailing behind. Bits of branches, tiles from our neighbour’s roof strewn around. We all went into clean up mode, organising trades to come and repair the damage, getting rid of the ruined fence.
It’s reasonable to expect that our focus was on the ground, sorting out the damage. Heads down picking up all the debris, sorting and cleaning. We can though be too intent and focussed on what is in front of us, the damage that the storm has done to us, that we forget to look up.
And when we forget or are too distracted to look up, we miss the rainbow. When we dont look up we forget that all His promises are yes and Amen. That His love never fails. That God is in control and He is good all the time.
“Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.” (Colossians 3:2 msg)
“I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.(Psalm 121:1-2 msg)
It’s a common word, familiar to all. Whether it be Father, Dad, daddy. Whatever the language – papa, père, padre. I’ve heard it in the same ward at hospital my dad was in as I visited. Used by another person visiting their father. I heard it in the lift of the same hospital with a “brand new” father heading back to the newborn baby, takeout dinner in hand.
Yes it’s a common word but at the same time so personal. My dad is my and my siblings’ dad only. He’s our dad, no one elses. And while I may overhear others utter the same word to someone else, it’s not the same to me, their dad is not mine.
A father and his child, it is such a precious relationship. One, like mine with my day, in its best form filled with love and trust. And it is this relationship that Jesus invites us to with God as He teaches us to pray to “Our Father who is in Heaven“.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:1-2)
In these winter days when it feels that the sun barely makes an appearance, it seems that our souls yearn for more than just brief moments in the sun. Indeed depression rates are known to notably increase during the winter. In fact there is a strong correlation between our levels of serotonin and our expousure to the sun. Light therapy is a popular choice to assist with depression and mitigate the effects of the minimal sunlight. We need the sun.
The definition of darkness is “the absence of light”. Light changes darkness, but darkness cannot change light. You can’t decrease light by turning up darkness. In fact the darker it is, the more the smallest light glows.
Light will always penetrate darkness. It is a law of nature. It is the same way in the spiritual realm. When the light of God shows up, it literally shows up, and the darkness flees before it. It must, because that’s what darkness does when light comes. Simple.
Jesus came to be the light in our darkness. Where there is darkness, light is needed. A night light dispels shadows that scare – for darkness always flees before light. The light of a torch shows the way home along the darkest paths. Jesus came to be the Light of the World where hopelessness, fear, worry and anxiety abound.
He said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:14)
In the same way that our soul needs light so does our spirit. And we can rest assured in the promise that God will dispel any darkness. Where God is, darkness cannot exist.
“My God tuns my darkness into light” (Psalm 18:28)
“The sun always rises, the day always dawns, and darkness doesn’t get the final say”