ODJ: bring it on

July 8, 2013 

READ: 2 Corinthians 12:5-10 

Three different timesI begged the Lordto take it away (v.8).

Australian-born evangelist Nick Vujicic entered theworld without arms or legs. Throughout his life he’s had a deep desire for God to make him whole. Nick has even prayed that he would grow appendages. Once, he and some Christian friends fashioned arms and legs out of clay and prayed for the limbs to become flesh. Although it didn’t happen, Nick still prays, “Please give me arms and legs. But if You don’t . . . I trust You.” He says his commitment to Jesus is simply to “want His plan”.

Like Nick, Paul suffered with an affliction that God didn’t take way. He described it as a thorn in the flesh—a messenger of Satan (2 Corinthians 12:7). Some think Paul endured epilepsy, migraines or even eye problems. The apostle said, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away” (v.8). He pleaded, and it wasn’t a one-off request.

Although God didn’t give Paul what he wanted, He did give him something else—grace. In response to Paul’s prayers, He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” (v.9). God wasn’t simply refusing to help. He was saying “no” to Paul’s request so that He could use the apostle’s limitations to reveal His limitlessness. Paul’s frailty would showcase God’s might.

When God says “no” to our requests, we might assume He doesn’t care about us. The truth is the opposite. Even if we keep asking Him to fix the problem, we can also pray beyond that request.

Getting started might sound something like this: God, help me to rely on Your grace in this situation. I know Your strength can shine through my weakness—so Lord, bring it on. Unleash Your power in my life. Please use my pain for Your glory.

—Jennifer Benson Schuldt
› Matthew 12:22-50

Read Matthew 26:42-45 to see how Jesus responded to God the Father’s answer of “no.” See Acts 28:7-9 for abit of irony regarding Paul’s situation.  
Why is it difficult to accept a “no” from God? How might you encourage someone who is prayerfully struggling with a persistent problem?  

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: a psalm for the struggle

March 3, 2013 

READ: Psalm 42 

I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you (v.6).

It was the kind of take-away restaurant where you stand in line, place your order and then step aside to wait for your food to appear. After I did just that, a young man took my place at the front of the queue. He ordered his food by using gestures and broken words. Paying was difficult for him because one of his wrists was turned so that his fingers pointed back to his body. And walking to a table meant overcoming the uneven function of his legs. This young man struggled physically, yet courageously.

In a similar way many of us struggle with internal impairments—grief, addiction, depression and anxiety. Daily tasks can become nearly impossible when these problems result in exhaustion, restlessness and preoccupation. The psalmist who wrote Psalm 42 described his inner issues this way: “Day and night I have only tears for food” (v.3); “My heart is breaking” (v.4); “I am deeply discouraged” (v.6). As a result of these feelings, questions crept into his mind: “Why is my heart so sad?” (v.5); “Why must I wander around in grief?” (v.9).

Woven in with the psalmist’s despair was a sturdy cord of hope. He reached out to the One who could help, declaring, “I will praise Him again—my Saviour and my God” (vv.5-6). During sleepless nights, he sang melodies centred on God and prayed—as he put it—“to God who gives me life” (v.8). He knew that, despite his distress, God was sustaining him at that time—daily pouring affection on him (v.8).

Actively remembering God (v.6) inspired the psalmist to put one foot in front of the other. His practises helped him persevere despite intense emotions and unanswered questions. If you’re struggling today, reach out to the living God and remember that “those who trust in the Lord will find new strength” (Isaiah 40:31).

—Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Joshua 7:1-26 ‹

Read Psalm 145:14 to see God’s heart for people who struggle. Read Luke 19:41-44 to see what broke Jesus’ heart.
What does the friendship of Jesus (John 15:15) mean for Christians who battle with emotional problems? What kind of practices can complicate or alleviate a person’s inner struggles? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)