Bad days; we all have them.
Naaman certainly did. 2 Kings 5 tells us Naaman had a lot going for him. He was a mighty warrior and had found favor with the king, but he had leprosy. This contagious skin disease would have caused much difficulty for Naaman, so one of his servants suggests Naaman go to Israel to seek healing. His journey leads him to Elisha.
According to 2 Kings 5:9-12, “So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”
But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.”
Naaman can’t believe this is happening. He is a mighty warrior, and he feels he deserves a better answer than a messenger telling him to wash in the muddy waters of the Jordan. He is certainly having a bad day. It seems he expected a completely different outcome to this day, so he takes off in a fit of rage.
We also have days like this. We can’t believe something is happening. We can’t believe we have to go there or do that, so we want to take off in a fit of rage like Naaman. But, notice the advice offered by those traveling with him.
2 Kings 5 goes on, “But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So, you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!”
Imagine the scene at the river. Naaman, still furious from his interactions with Elisha, steps into the nasty water of the Jordan. He slips and slides out to a place where it is easy to get his whole body under the water and begins dipping. Perhaps the first couple dips felt kind of good. Naaman was angry, so the coolness of the water may have been somewhat refreshing. Long about dip six, Naaman’s agitation may have returned.
He’s in the Jordan, he’s doing what Elisha said, but all he’s getting is mud in his hair and water in his ears. His skin disease isn’t healing. But then comes the seventh dip, and that’s when everything changes.
He goes under with leprosy, but he comes up healed. He goes under with a skin disease, but he comes up with a renewed skin. Naaman goes under wondering how this is going to help, but he comes up knowing that God is real. It was the seventh dip that made the difference.
In many ways, this may illustrate our lives. We have all these things we are going through. You can insert your things here, and we can’t believe they are happening. We know God says to trust him and we do, but we easily relate to Naaman, standing in the middle of the Jordan, wondering how this is going to help.
It is in these moments we need to remember we haven’t reached our seventh dip. Many years ago, I heard a sermon that pointed out not every day can be a seventh dip day. Not every day is going to be filled with happiness; not every day is going to be good in our eyes, but they are all leading to our seventh dip. So, when you are going through your things, hang in there. Your seventh dip is coming!
Imagine Naaman’s thoughts as he was dipping himself in the water.
We pulled into the Bob Evans parking lot, and our daughter noticed a gentleman standing between the parking lot and street. He was holding a sign at the intersection of two busy roads. She read the sign and asked if we could give him some money. His sign was requesting money for food.
How were we going to respond to his request?
We didn’t know the man or s of his situation, but we were faced with a choice. This is just one example of an everyday occurrence; each day we are given the choice of how to respond to various situations. Whether it is the guy in the parking lot with a sign or the lady in front of us in line, we have to choose how to interact. We have to decide how to respond to that driver who cut us off in traffic or that grouchy person who bumped into us on the bus. Each day brings a new set of opportunities needing our response, and Psalm 37 gives us a pattern to follow.
Verse 3 says, “Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.”
The Psalmist encourages us to use these opportunities to do good. As we trust in the Lord, we should allow our faith to drive us to doing what is right even if others are doing what is wrong. We should allow our faith to guide us to do what is good. We may not know every detail of each situation, but the Lord does. When these opportunities come, our response should always be to do good.
As for the guy in the Bob Evans parking lot, we didn’t know his situation. All we knew is he was holding a sign asking for help, so we gave him enough money for a meal. He said thank you, and we went on our way. We’ll probably never cross paths again, but I hope by our doing good, the man at least saw a glimpse of Christ’s grace.
Columnist Deborah Mathis has written about her observations during a particular trip through Union Station in Washington D.C. There was a great deal of movement and noise. Announcements blaring, security guards shouting directions, horns honking, people moving in all directions, and a traveler singing What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
“What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear;
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.”
Slowly a change came over the noisy crowd. The voice continued:
“O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.”
As the traveler sang, the hubbub of the station was replaced with a calm peace. A man in front of Mathis commented that he was not a Christian, but the peace was nice. Amid current events and all the noise of the world around us, many people are searching for peace. There are a number of places and products promising peace, but it seems those spots only leave the searcher longing for more and wondering if there really is true peace.
The Bible teaches there is true peace, and it comes in trusting the Lord.
- Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
- We read in Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
When we trust the Lord, he brings us peace just like he did on a stormy, scary night for a few of his first followers. The night started with Jesus and his disciples beginning the journey across a lake. As they were crossing, a fierce storm came up. The boat was rocked as it began to fill with water. Mark’s Gospel says, “Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.”
The calmness was once again interrupted on the other side of the lake. Jesus and the disciples were met by a man possessed by a legion of demons. This man had not had peace for a long time, and his presence probably created a scary situation for the disciples. Jesus, though, had control of the situation. He ordered the demons out of the man and into a herd of pigs, which went dashing over a cliff into the lake. Calm and peace were once again restored.
No matter the source of the hubbub, Jesus is in control. The same Lord who calmed a storm and cast out demons can give us a perfect peace. Isaiah 26:3 promises, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
“Trust the Lord,” Scripture says.
It may be the hardest thing we do, but it can also be the most rewarding. It may be made even more difficult by our life experience. Our heartbreaks suffered by trusting other people may have taught us we shouldn’t trust anyone, yet the Bible helps us see we can trust the Lord.
Isaiah 26:4 says, “Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.”
Unlike others, the Lord is our eternal rock. He is unshakable, unmovable, and unchangeable. He will not lead us astray or walk out on us, so we can trust him and count on him to be there for us. We can trust him to be there, keeping his promises, and doing what he says he will do. “Trust in the Lord,” Scripture says, and…
- You will have peace as the Lord can provided peace in Christ Jesus that goes beyond human understanding.
- Your paths in life will be straight as the Lord guides your steps and directs your movements.
- You will have a fullness of life that can only be found in Christ Jesus.
- You will have an eternal place prepared by Jesus. He says, “I am going to prepare a place for you, and if I prepare a place for you, I will come back to take you with me so you also may be where I am.”
It may be hard, but it is certainly rewarding to trust in the Lord.
Have you been waiting? This can be one of the most difficult parts of life. We live in a super connected world, so if we have to wait longer than 10 seconds for anything, it is hard. Yet, our lives sometimes take us down paths that require us to wait.
We have to wait to see if we’re going to get our dream job. We have to wait to meet the person we desire to marry. We have to wait as we’re trying to have a family. We have to wait on our prayers to be answered.
The people of Israel also had to wait. They find themselves in a hard time. Their bondage has been harsh, and they have suffered immensely. They are needing and wanting the Lord to work, but they have to wait. As they wait, Isaiah brings encouragement, and it is still encouragement for us today.
Isaiah 64:4 says, “For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!”
Hang in there if you’re waiting. Psalm 27:14 encourages, “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” The Bible promises the Lord is working on your behalf.
“Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?”
These words of Psalm 77 are like those of a personal journal. The Psalmist’s ink quail puts to paper the truth of his thoughts. They may be private thoughts; embarrassment would come if anyone else knew how he felt. However, they are relatable thoughts. Many ask the same questions amid life’s troubles. In fact, you may have noticed the questions and wondered how I knew what you were thinking.
Patient in Affliction – Get Encouraged
It seems we ask these questions in hard times, feeling the answer may be yes, but Scripture reminds us the Lord is always faithful, always keeping his promises. As Hebrews 4 says, the Lord will never leave us, and Isaiah 64 states the Lord works for those who wait for him. The Psalmist said he asked these questions, but found hope in remembering the Lord.
He says in verse 11, “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord.” As he remembered the Lord, the Psalmist hope was restored.
We too can find hope in remembering the Lord.
We can find hope in remembering his deeds.
In verses 11-12, the Psalmist says, “I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.”
Remember all the deeds of the Lord: how he brought the Israelites out of Egypt, how he helped Israel with the overwhelming task of conquering Canaan, and how he come walking out of the tomb. The Lord has always provided an answer to his people. Our hope can be restored by remembering his deeds.
We can find hope in remembering his character.
The Lord is holy. The Lord is merciful, gracious, loving, compassionate, faithful, and more! Remembering his character can bring us great hope.
We can find hope in remembering his power
The Psalmist proclaims in verse 14, “You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.”
God’s power has been on display throughout history. It was visible when he brought Israel out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, toppled the walls of Jericho, and calmed the storm with a single word. The Lord’s power is awesome, and he works for those who wait for him. Remembering the Lord’s power restores our hope.
The Lord’s deeds, character, and power can provide us with much hope. The next time you feel rejected, failed, or as if the Lord has turned his back on you, restore your hope by remembering his deeds, character, and power.
Perhaps it seems odd, but we share some thoughts with ancient Israel. The Israelites found themselves in captivity, and they were wondering if God had totally left them. Feelings of loneliness and thoughts of abandonment were prevalent. Where was God? Why was he not answering?
We may find ourselves asking these same questions as we look at our circumstances. The political landscape is stressful. There are marriages on the brink of disaster. Finances are operating paycheck to paycheck, trying to stretch every penny farther than it was designed to go. The pressures of life are heavy, and as we start to buckle under the weight, we relate to the Israelites. Where is God? Why is he not answering?
Thankfully, the Lord sent Isaiah to offer encouragement to Israel, and we too can find encouragement in his words. In Isaiah 40, the prophet offers 3 keys to remember amid hard times.
First, the Lord is all-powerful.
Isaiah asks in verse 28, “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.”
It’s as if Isaiah is saying, “Don’t forget…”
“Don’t forget the Lord is everlasting.”
Psalm 90 proclaims, “Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.” There’s never been a time without the Lord, nor will there ever be a time without the Lord. Don’t forget the Lord is everlasting.
“Don’t forget the Lord is the creator.”
Genesis 1:1 reminds us God created the Heavens and the Earth. He was there before anything existed, and he is the one who spoke everything into existence. Remember, God is the creator.
“Don’t forget the Lord never loses strength.”
Jeremiah reminds us the Lord’s strength is always there. In chapter 32, he says, “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!” Nothing is too hard for God. There are things that are too hard for us, but not for him; he carries the heaviest of loads with ease. The pressures of life which cause us to buckle, don’t even cause him to flinch. Jesus says what is impossible for man is possible for God; his word never fails. Keep in mind God does not lose his strength.
“Don’t forget his wisdom is immeasurable.”
“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways,” states Romans 11. Don’t forget there is no end to the Lord’s wisdom.
Remember, God is all-powerful. It may seem are struggles hold all the power, but God holds more. Amid a difficult season, Isaiah reminds us of God’s power.
Second, the Lord desires to help us.
Isaiah says the Lord wants to help us. In verse 29, Isaiah exalts the Lord by saying he gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. The Lord is willing and able to help us.
Third, the Lord will get us through.
It is in our weakest moments it seems the Lord does his best work. He sure did for Israel. The Lord delivered the Israelites from captivity, and he rebuilt their nation. They were wondering where God was; why he wasn’t answering, but he pulled them through the hard time.
As we are wondering where God is; why he is not answering, we need to remember the encouragement of verses 30-31:
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
Amid the hard times in life, we need to remember to trust in the Lord. He will pull us through. The stresses and pressures of life are no match for the Lord. His strength will get us through.
The next time you find yourself buckling under the pressure of a hard time, remember, Isaiah’s 3 keys:
- The Lord is all-powerful, and can handle anything that may come.
- The Lord desires to help.
- The Lord will get you through the difficulty.