Sunday, March 29, 2009

Always There


7Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. (Psalms 139 : 7-8)

Imagine this little child who is just learning to walk. He takes a few steps, and then fall. He gets up again and continued walking. After a few times trying and falling, the baby starts to cry. Unbeknownst to the child, his father was beside him, watching him all the time. And whenever his child starts to cry, the father will always come to the child’s aid. The child’s tears and assumed ‘failures’ will never prevent the father from persevering in seeing his little boy walk without aid one day. The child can continue to walk and fall, but the father makes sure that his boy does not give up in the process.

We often think that our Father is not watching us. When the going gets tough, those were the times when we feel all alone. When we go through trials and pain, when we struggle to find answers to life’s questions, or when we find ourselves battling with temptations – those were the times when we feel most alone. Often times when our friends reject us, we feel as if God has rejected us as well. Downcast and dejected, we feel as if there is no meaning left to life. Has God forgotten us when we go through the most difficult times of our lives? Have we done anything to deserve this? How can this ugly piece of a puzzle be part of God’s special plan?

Where is God, really, when it hurts?

Remember Joseph – he seemed to have everything that he needs as his father’s favourite son. He has God-given dreams which gave him too much enthusiasm. There is no hint that he lacks anything at all. Now imagine having everything robbed away from him – his identity, dignity, and possessions. He was sold off by his brothers, falsely accused, wrongly imprisoned, and then forgotten by someone whom he has helped. Joseph had given his best in everything that he does, but it does not seem to help at all. I am sure that while in the dark dungeon of Pharaoh’s palace, he must have wondered if God has forgotten him. Has God taken back the promises given to Joseph through the dreams? Of course we know the end of the story, but it was not something that Joseph could see when he was in prison.

Or think about the Israelites, suffering in slavery under the brutal hands of the Egyptians. They must have wondered if God has called them His chosen people, then where is He? Or remember David? He was anointed as King as a young man, but what we saw in the most of David’s life was his never ending efforts trying to flee from King Saul. Has God chosen someone else instead? Did God make a mistake?

There are no easy answers to questions like these. We often wonder if God is there when no one else is, or if God knows it when we cry ourselves to sleep. Perhaps you think that you do not matter enough for God to care. But remember the Father heart of God – He always watches from a close distance. God will never prevent us from exploring and learning to walk through life itself, but He is also not absent from our cries. One lecturer/clinical psychologist once said this to me, “God’s hands are always so big that you can never run away from it”. His eyes are always watchful, always attentive. Whenever we feel like giving up, we will always find just enough strength to hold on. But it does not mean that God will take the thorn away from our flesh. The truth is, often God appears in ways that we cannot imagine – like in a still small voice instead of an earthquake.

If you believe that God keeps Hs promises, then one of His most profound promises is that He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6). Rest assured that God is always there with you – be it in your highest peak or lowest valley. He s there when you celebrate; He is also there when you think that you are crying all alone. Nothing happens without the Father’s knowledge. And so whatever happens, know that God’s presence will always go with you and He will give you rest (Exodus 33:14). Just hang in there for a little while more, and you will see help coming your way. Remember, God always has your best interest in His mind, and you will see the formation of a beautiful picture if you do not give up.

What The Devil Meant For Evil (Revised)


“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God has sent me ahead of you.” Genesis 45:5

When Joseph’s brothers sold him to be an Egyptian slave, they did not do it so he may become Egypt’s Prime Minister. It was out of jealousy that they what they did, and they had meant to never see their brother again. And for the next 13 years Joseph was kept in prison for something that he was innocent of. And yet, despite being falsely accused and having to spend 13 years in the prison, God’s favor was upon him. He was put in charge of the other prisoners. God gave Joseph the gift to interpret dreams, and it was because of that did Pharaoh released him and made him Prime Minister overnight. The devil had meant to destroy Joseph and make him the lowest of the lowest, but God has other plans.

The devil has one plan for our lives which will never change, and that is to destroy us. Sin brings destruction. Sin done by ourselves brings guilt and condemnation and that can be very, very destructive. Wounds inflicted on us as a result of others’ sin bring in hurt, bitterness and resentment. And because this world is a sinful world, the devil is out in full force to seek our destruction.

Sometimes we just do not understand why all these has to happen. It seems as if each time after God gives us a promise, an attack will immediately be launched against it. Prior to his handover to the Egyptians, Joseph had two dreams of being someone so much respected that even his parents and his brothers will have to bow down to him. He was so confident that it was from God and it will come to past.

Then, things went absolutely wrong. Joseph’s brothers decided to, out of jealousy and fear that they will one day have to bow down to their brother, sold him off as an Egyptian slave, hoping that they will never see him again. At first, Joseph found favor in the eyes of Potiphar, but it was short lived when Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him for being sexually immoral simply because he chose to do the right thing. For more than a decade, he spent his life in the dungeons. The dreams that God gave him seemed to just vanish in thin air. It seems that God is a liar.
But despite all that has happened, Joseph’s faith in God was never faint. The Bible says that ‘the Lord was with him, and showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden’. All throughout Joseph’s darkest times, God was with him. In fact, God was preparing Joseph for the palace even while he is in the prison.

When things get tough, do not be disheartened. Know that whatever word that proceeds from God’s mouth will never return to Him void. He will bring it to past in due time. Like in Joseph’s life, God prepared Joseph in the prison for the palace. Joseph was promoted from the lowest of all Egyptians (prisoner/slave) to the second man in the land, with a high authority given by Pharaoh.

When you have the favor of God, it cannot be taken away. Joseph’s dream was finally fulfilled when his brothers bowed down to him when they came begging for food. They did not realize that he is their brother, but Joseph recognized them. God has used Joseph to bring prosperity to the land of Egypt, making it the richest land at that time. Famine hit the land, but because of the wisdom that God has granted to Joseph, not only the people of Egypt have enough food, but people from neighboring lands come to Egypt looking for food.

In all these, Joseph was never bitter towards his brothers. When he revealed himself to them, he broke down as healing took place. Joseph restored his brothers and forgave them. He saw that God was behind all the ugly things that have happened. Joseph understood that God has sent him to Egypt not only to preserve its land and its people, but also those from neighboring regions who came looking for food. God is always true to His promises, though at times it may seem as if He has forgotten all about them. As in the life of Joseph, despite all the 'effort' his brother put in to stop themselves from bowing down to him, God's promise still prevailed, even after all the years.

The devil never wants the promises of God to be fulfilled in our lives. He will do anything to discourage and cause us to wage war against God. But remember, God is always faithful.
Paul says in Romans 8:28 that ALL things work TOGETHER for good. All means the good and the bad; and they work as ONE, together for a single purpose. You cannot separate the good from the bad, for it will be like looking at a single black piece of a puzzle instead of the whole picture; or eating the eggs and the flour separately instead of eating chocolate chip cookies. You need to put the good, and the bad together and learn to look a bit ahead into the future. Even if you cannot see how something so bitter can be a blessing in disguise, rest assured that God can. Sometimes trials force us out of the comfort zone or even bring us out from danger that we do not see coming. Sometimes, it is an opportunity to move on into something bigger that we have never seen. Remember, that in every crisis there is always an opportunity. There is always a door of escape.

When things get hard, know that you are in the exact position for promotion! Remember that the lower you are, the higher you will go. All you need to do is to surrender everything to God and always believe in His promises.