A man goes to his friend’s house at midnight looking for bread…but is told to “Go away!” In this story, his friend appears not to care about the man’s dilemma. Likewise for us, there are times when it appears to be a shrouding of God’s friendship for us…or at least times when we go through seasons of spiritual confusion. The Lord will seem like a distant, unkind and uncaring friend that won’t answer our calls. It’s during those times of spiritual confusion that we need to hold steadfast to what we already know…that God is faithful, trustworthy, and true. And we need to keep doing the right things…reading our Bible, praying, and maintaining our walk…all with tenacity. For later on in the story, because of the man’s stubborn persistence…his friend did get up and give him bread.
You’re not just an acquaintance to God. You’re not some face He sees in the crowd, and recognizes you as someone He should know… but can’t remember your name. No, God knows you intimately…He knows you inside and out…He knows every thought you’ve had, every tear you’ve cried, every prayer you’ve prayed. But most importantly, He knows your name. For you are that very special to Him. And in response, what can we say but, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”
In Biblical times, clay jars were used to store items of importance. In Jeremiah 32:14-15, the Lord tells Jeremiah to buy his cousin’s field and take the documents and place them in a clay jar. “For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.” This promise that they would return to their homeland would take 70 years of exile in Babylon before it would come about…but these important documents would be kept safe until then…safe within a fragile clay jar. And if you’re a Believer, you have the great power and Almighty energy of God within your clay jar…your body, placed there by God for safe-keeping.
In these scriptures we see the story of Jesus walking on the water and the disciples initial reaction. The disciples had been rowing for hours…fighting the rising winds and rough water. They were exhausted. With heads down, they were battling to just keep moving forward. So when Jesus approached the boat, fatigue and stress blinded them to be able to even recognize Jesus…irrationally, they imagined that it was a ghost rising from the waves. The same thing will happen to us when we fight the storms of life alone. Heads down, we power through, battling to keep moving ahead, but becoming more and more drained. It’s then that the combination of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion often leads to unfounded fears that overtake us. It’s also at that time, we suddenly come to the end of ourselves and finally cry out, “Lord, I can’t do this!”
Some later manuscripts show this verse as saying, “Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you.” Either translation is a tall order to fill. For we are a people who retaliate at the slightest notion that we’ve been wronged. Taking revenge and repaying evil with evil is touted and even celebrated in today’s social media. But this verse tells us to do the very opposite. And our example should be Jesus, who in I Peter 2:23 demonstrates, “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate, when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” Taking the high road in the face of cruelty may be a clenched fist, gritted teeth type of grace under pressure, but allowing God to fight your battle is worth it in the end.
David and his men were holed up in the Desert of Maon where a wealthy landowner with thousands of sheep and goats pastured his livestock…his name of Nabal. He was married to a beautiful and intelligent woman named Abigail. David and his men had protected Nabal’s shepherds and sheep…so when shearing started, his men had come with greetings, looking for favor…but instead, found insults being hurled at them by Nabal. When David got wind of this, he gathered his men to launch an assault on the household. Meanwhile, Abigail had been told of her husband’s faux pas and quickly intervened by packing up a large quantity of provisions, and setting off to intercept David. When their paths crossed, Abigail was able to very eloquently and diplomatically change David’s mind…and so halting the annihilation of her entire household.
Maybe it’s hearing someone’s answer to pray…maybe it’s a praise report…or maybe it’s hearing that someone you’ve been praying for has finally come to know the Lord. Whatever it is, joy and thanksgiving almost explodes from us as we listen to others praising and thanking our Heavenly Father. Sharing God’s miraculous works is so important to all of us. For when we share…we all become encouraged and uplifted!