Covered: 2 Corinthians 9-13 // Acts 20 // Romans 1-6
Scripture Memory: Lamentations 3:19-21 // Psalms 34:17-18
Have you ever heard someone say, or maybe even thought to yourself, “Man, the Bible sure is boring!” If so, just wait for the reading this week. The Apostle Paul clearly articulates and proclaims the Gospel in the first few chapters of the book of Romans and then, once again, calls out the church of Corinth to get its junk straight.
But my favorite part of the reading this week came from Acts 20 when a young man named Eutychus was listening to Paul preach – or as Luke records it “talked on and on.” Well eventually ole Eutychus fell asleep and actually fell out of the window in which he was sitting, down three stories, and died on the spot! Paul then stopped preaching, went down to the young man, brought him back to life, and they lived happily ever after. I told you the Bible wasn’t boring.
So what is the moral of that story? Don’t fall asleep when someone is preaching! Kevin and I will be watching very closely 😉
Now, as we read through the letters of Paul and other parts of the New Testament, it can become very easy for us to begin to think Paul (and others) had it all together, and their lives were worry/stress-free at times. I mean Paul just raised a kid from the dead. Peter challenged the people who killed Jesus and healed a guy born lame, etc. It’s easy for us to get lost in the good and the miraculous, and lose sight of the fact that these early followers of Jesus faced incredible trials and hardships.
They were run out of town multiple times, lost friendships, had “thorns in the flesh,” and eventually lost their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Life was not all miracles and roses. There was struggle, heartbreak, grief, questions, and loss.
This is the Paul that I connect with. This is the Peter I connect with. There are times, even in the midst of the movement of God in my life and those around me, that I just become overshadowed by darkness – pain, suffering, questions, doubt, worry, and fear. In these moments I cry out like the psalmist did last week in our memory verse:
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? (Psalm 42:5a NIV)
The dark cloud sets in and envelops me. I can’t see forward. I can’t see behind. I am constantly reminded of my shortcomings and all of my trials. I am overwhelmed. The words of Jeremiah in our memory verse this week articulate what I am feeling:
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. (Lamentations 3:19-20 NIV)
It’s in these moments where all I can see is the darkness. Even though I know what is true – that I am loved by my Creator, I am loved by my beautiful wife, and that I have a purpose – all I can see and feel is the overwhelming darkness. I feel as if I am in a pit with no way out.
So what do we do? What do we do when these very real and very valid emotions overtake us? What do when we see no way forward? We remember what we saw in our memory verse last week:
We don’t forget in the dark what He has shown us to be true in the light.
Even if we don’t believe it, even if we can’t see how it could ever be true – we don’t forget what God has shown us to be true. Look at how our memory verse ends:
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet I call this to mind and I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:19-23 NIV)
Hang on to what He has shown you to be true. Even if you can’t believe, even if you can’t respond in faith, hang on to what He has shown to be true because He is forever faithful.
King David illustrated what this looks like in our other memory verse this week when He reminds us of God’s faithfulness even in our darkest moments:
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18 NIV)
Jesus didn’t promise us a problem free or darkness free life when He called us to follow Him, but He did promise to never leave us or forsake us in the midst of darkness.
So if you find yourself overcome by darkness, call this to mind – the hope we have in Jesus, the One who overcame darkness once and for all on the cross and through the empty tomb.
Don’t forget in the dark what He has shown us to be true in the light, who is Jesus, the Light of the World. ………………………………..
Written by: Andrew Bates
Photo Credit: Iswanto Arif