As I read my friend’s text message that morning, I realized that God had done it again: He had sent just the right encourgament to her email box at just the right time…
I wish I had been keeping track of how many times people email me to say they have been encouraged by some email devotional, some YouTube sermon they found and watched, or some praise report they received in the mail, etc.. The message is always the same: “That is exactly what I needed to hear right now, given _______”, and here they insert their current set of circumstances.
Yes, I know that God encourages us: “But God, who encourages the downhearted…” (2 Cor. 7:6 NET); and yes, I am aware that He knows what we need: “So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ …your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matt. 6:31-32 NET). The part that amazes me is that those sermons and devotionals and testimonies, etc. are usually written or preached by someone who doesn’t actually know the one who is encouraged by it, and they certainly know nothing about the current set of bad circumstances! God uses total strangers in total ignorance to say just the words we need to hear at just the right time!
The piece that blows my mind even more is this: Those encouraging devotionals, sermons, testimonies, etc., that bring us so much encouragement and comfort, are usually written long before we even have a problem! In the case of my friend who texted me, that particular devotional had been written and placed in the queue for that particular internet devotional…over a year ago! That means that God knew over a year ago that she would go through trying times and need encouragement; and in His love for her, He prompted someone to pen just the right words, and to place them at just the right time, in the queue of just the right publication!
That’s love, friends!
But it shouldn’t surprise us, should it? If God loves us enough to suffer excruciating pain and die a horrific death to save us (SeeJohn 3:16) and re-establish us as His family (SeeRom. 5:10,18,20), His love is big enough to include our current set of problems: “And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19 NET). And if God cares about our current problems enough to prepare just the right encouragement months and even years in advance, then can’t we also trust Him to come through with the solution?
I think we can!
“But wait,” you say. “I’m in the middle of something terrible, and God isn’t sending ME encouragement!”
If we are not receiving encouragement from God in the midst of our troubles, then I might suggest that it may not be because God isn’t sending that encouragement. Rather, it is perhaps because the circumstances have grown so huge that they take up our entire ability to see where God is at work.
It is a known fact that whatever we focus on tends to consume our entire attention. My dog is a good example of this: Whenever she is intent on sniffing something, her ears seem to stop working and she can’t seem to hear me calling her. Another good example is when I am working on an important report at work. Someone might come up to my door and even enter my office, and I might not see or hear them. In the same way, when my husband is working on a project on the computer, he won’t hear me tell him supper is ready, and he might not even hear the phone ring.
The point is, in the midst of our circumstances, we can become so focused on the problems at hand that we may not even notice where God is at work around us, and we may not even see or hear His encouragement for us. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t there; and often that same encouragement that He is trying to give us was prepared months, even years before our current problems began.
Whatever it is you are going through right now, I would encourage you to take your eyes off the problems of the moment, and instead, look to Jesus: “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…” (Heb. 12:2a NET). When we focus on how big God is instead of how big our problems are, we will begin to see the encouragement that God has, in His love for us, already surrounded us with; and we will be come to understand that this same God, who loves us this much, already has a solution in mind.
In the midst of trouble? Why not check your email for that daily devotional you usually delete? Quite possibly it was written months to years ago…specifically for you!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.