Do you ever feel like your prayers are hitting an invisible wall before they get to God? Or, when you read your Bible does it feel like even though you see the words the meaning isn’t sinking into your head? At the risk of sounding “not-so-holy” I have to confess these things have happened to me. It’s annoying. Faith shaking, joy-stealing, annoying!
I guess the good thing about getting older is when I get to one of these faith shaking, joy-stealing moments in life I know they won’t last. Having been here before I know “this too shall pass.”
You see, there are truths I know and believe. When I can’t seem to utter one more prayer, the Holy Spirit is praying for me. Romans 8:26 offers this promise, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” It’s remarkable really. The Holy Spirit – God incarnate IN me – is offering up the prayers I don’t even know to pray. Wow! That very fact simply blows my mind! What amazing grace!
And on those days when I just can’t seem to make sense of what I read in His word I’ve got this promise from Isaiah 55:10-11: “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Whether I understand the words I read in scripture or not, it is NEVER a waste of my time to read them! God has promised they will be used to accomplish exactly what He wants. My job is just to be faithful in showing up every day.
We all have times of discouragement. It’s just part of life. But we don’t have to stay stuck in despair. Yesterday morning while reading my Bible, I found this story I’ve always loved. The apostle Paul was being held in jail basically for his own protection from the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Neither group really liked him but the Sadducees were particularly irate with him because he believed in the resurrection of the dead. (The Sadducees did not believe in such a resurrection and I’ve always heard, “That’s why they were sad, you see.” Trust me, this little tidbit of information will never leave you again. When you see the word “Sadducees” you’ll automatically think, “sad, you see.” You’re welcome.)
Okay, back to my story. Paul was in jail and I imagine he was a bit discouraged. But then this happens: “That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, ‘Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.’” Acts 23:11. I’m guessing this was great news for Paul! Knowing God still had plans for him to preach in Rome meant he was going to live! It was even encouraging for me yesterday when I read it.
I know God still has plans for me, which means I AM going to feel better. You see, even when you’re having trouble concentrating on what you’re reading, even when the words seem to miss their mark, time with God is never, ever wasted.
If you are discouraged today, don’t give up. Press in to the Word. Press in to God. And press on with hope. He’s got great things planned for you.
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:14