The warning buzzer arrests your attention and interrupts your favorite radio program. After the buzzer the announcer may give some valuable words of warning. Perhaps residents need to prepare for a tornado or hurricane. Perhaps a severe thunderstorm or a blizzard is on the way. Those warning buzzers are essential for our preparedness. Most of the time however, the buzzer is followed by familiar words: “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the Federal, State and local authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, the Attention Signal you just heard would have been followed by official information, news or instructions.”
God often allows His children to go through times of testing. I think of Abraham whom God commanded to take Isaac, his only son to the top of a mountain and sacrifice him there. The scriptures in Genesis 22 record Abraham’s obedience and willingness to do what God told him to do. God stopped Abraham just before the knife plunged into his son and he passed this test of faith. Job also went through severe trials that took his children, his health, and the loyalty of his wife. In both of these incidents Abraham and Job did not know it was a test. Confusion, grief, and sorrow surrounded these faithful men but they each passed their test.
When tests come, our Lord does not give us a warning buzzer. He doesn’t say to us: “this is only a test of the believer faithfulness system, had this been an actual emergency I would have given further instructions”. Even though we don’t have a warning buzzer when tests come, He does give us a promise. 1 Cor. 10:13 assures every child of God with these words: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”. His grace is sufficient whatever the test.
Correct me if I’m wrong but does it seem to you that manufactured products used to be made with a lot more quality. Automobiles, appliances, vacuum cleaners, and just about everything that we made was made to last. If something broke down you took it to a repairman. People used to make a living by being small appliance repairmen. Furniture was reupholstered, books were rebound, and televisions were fixed. Today, most of the time if something breaks we just throw it away. Repairing things has gotten more costly than just getting something new.
Our throw-away society has even filtered into our relationship with fellow believers. When a Christian fails in their spiritual life many times the church just writes them off and doesn’t go through the hard work to attempt a restoration. When personal relationships get strained, many times we allow silence and distance to come between us. However readily we are prone to throw away these relationships, the Word of God challenges us to behave differently. Galatians 6:1 tells us: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted”. The word restore is an insightful word that means to set a broken bone or to mend fishing nets. When a believer has a spiritual break in their lives we need to come alongside them and do our best to help restore and heal the brokenness in their lives. We of course need to come without a holier than thou attitude but realize that we too are prone to wander. Restoring broken people is a tough job and sometimes it doesn’t accomplish what we hope. But God forgive us for having the attitude of just counting our losses and writing people off. I wonder what would have happened to the church if Jesus had written Peter off.
It might make economic sense to throw away that old toaster and get a new one. But our great and awesome God is in the people repair business. May we as His followers do our best to restore the broken among His children.
I remember my days in the Boy Scouts and the good times of camping and hiking, starting fires and sleeping in tents. On one particular hike that was 13 miles long we had to carry our backpacks with us. I enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the good times with the troop. However after a while the backpack seemed to get a little heavier with every mile we traveled. I relished the breaks when we could sit on the ground and take our packs off and rest.
Every one of us carries a backpack full of burdens through our life in this world. Sometimes they get a little heavy. Paul told the believers in Galatia to be on the lookout for their fellow hikers in the faith. He instructed them and us to: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). When we observe someone who seems to be struggling with a burden we need to help them. Sometimes we should just listen as they share their burdens with us. We can offer scriptural encouragement or a promise to be in prayer. We can ask them if there is anything in particular we can do to lessen their load. Sometimes we can just give them a hug. Burden bearing is a responsibility for all of us who are followers of Jesus.
Another verse about bearing burdens caught my attention in Gal. 6:5. It says: “For each one shall bear his own load”. Christ has given to each of His followers a backpack to carry. He fills it with a certain amount of difficulty, responsibility, burdens, and situations that we are to bear. He knows how much each of us can handle and will not overload us with things we cannot bear (1 Cor. 10:13). He challenges us to pick up our heavenly designed backpack and carry our load.
One day we will lay our burdens down in that Heavenly City. Until then we need to pick up our backpack and bear our own burdens. Also, don’t forget to be on the lookout for others and share their heavy load.
I love to watch the little gray squirrels in our community and their delightful behavior. The other day I was walking along one of our towns trails and I saw one of those gray squirrels with something missing. That squirrel did not have a tail. I have no idea what happened. Perhaps an accident caused him to lose it. Maybe he was born without it. I don’t know what kind of disability having no tail caused the little guy. Maybe his balance would not be as good walking on power lines. His ability to attract a mate may even be limited. However, when I saw him it seemed he was still able to get his share of acorns.
That was the first time I have ever seen a squirrel without a tail but I sure see a lot of people with various disabilities. Some people have limited mobility and must use walkers, wheelchairs and canes. Some have various diseases, illnesses and injuries that restrict what they used to be able to do. Cancer, heart disease or dementia may be taking a toll on your life, but no matter what you may face you still have amazing value to our Heavenly Father. Jesus spoke about how much we matter to God in Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” If God sees the sparrows who fall and cares for the tail-less squirrels don’t you think that He is much more concerned for you?
No matter what our limitation, illness or disability, we have the promise from an Almighty God that He is aware of our situation. We also have the promise that He cares for us (1Peter 5:7) and that no matter how limited we may feel He will provide for our needs. God has a purpose for our life and His grace will lead us in finding those acorns.
A Boston man was on vacation to Huntington Beach, California with his family. He was enjoying a swim in the ocean when he felt something slam into his back. Eugene Finney said it hit him harder than he’d ever been hit in his life. His daughter asked him why his back was all bloody. The 39 year old Finney had just been hit by a shark leaving a large gash on his back. When the pain continued Finney finally went to the doctor and they did their routine scans. It was then that the doctors treating Mr. Finney for his blunt force trauma wounds then confronted him with some news that was just as scary as a shark attack. They discovered a stage one tumor on his right kidney, around the size of a walnut. Finney had it removed and received the good news that he didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy. His shark attack potentially saved his life.
The story of Joseph in the book of Genesis gives us such valuable lessons. Joseph was beloved by his father but his brothers despised him. They were jealous of his favored position and set about to destroy him. His brothers surrounded him like vicious sharks and put him in a pit. They later sold him into slavery and told their father that a wild beast had killed him. Joseph served as a slave for many years as a result of the maliciousness of his brothers. He was lied about by his master’s wife and ended up in jail. It seemed that Joseph was bitten by several sharks. But that is not the end of the story. He was released from prison, served in Pharaoh’s courts and was instrumental in saving his whole family from starvation. At the end of Genesis we witness his attitude about all that happened. He said: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive”.
Feeling surrounded by sharks? Wondering if you are going to survive your situation? Our Mighty God is able to turn our shark attack into a good bite.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation