Yesterday, we talked about the fact that we all face moments of despair and tragedy. Some of us endure it for entire seasons.
A few years ago, under spiritual direction, I began work on a spiritual autobiography. I categorized several blocks of my life. One of those life sections I identified as “The Death Years.” There was a span of five to six years where our family experienced the loss of a loved one a couple of times each year. That weighs on you after a while.
I experienced the most pain at that time when my sister died. I’ve often said, what got me through that season was the presence of God and the people of God. I’m not sure how I would’ve come out of that without either one.
When we remembered Isreal’s defeat yesterday, we also recalled that the Philistines took the ark of the covenant. In a sense, that meant they defeated the Israelites and their God. That’s certainly what it felt like to some of the Israelites. When the prophet Eli heard the ark was gone, he fell over backward in his chair. He broke his neck and died.
But the ark was going to cause its own trouble for the Philistines. They experienced turmoil in their presence whenever they had it. As a result, they passed it from place to place, hoping to get rid of their trouble. Finally, they decided it was better for the ark to be back to its own place.
To me, that’s a strange and humorous story. I’d call it the holy hot potato.
There is, of course, a faith lesson we can glean from it. Many, I suppose. Related to our discussion about facing the burdens of life, I want to remind you that God is always God.
I am sure I was not the first person God’s presence comforted. And God’s people have blessed generations of people with their prayers and support. That tells me that what we face does not change who God is. As the Israelites came to terms with their defeat, they did not have to worry that God had been defeated.
Their defeat didn’t change God. Yours won’t either.
There’s great encouragement in that reality. God remains our source of inspiration and strength. As you walk through your seasons, come what may, God Almighty walks with you.
Let’s finish our week of devotionals with something from Isaac Watts, the great hymn writer. He penned these words to the hymn “I Sing th’ Almighty Power of God”:
while all that borrows life from you
is ever in your care,
and everywhere that we can be,
you, God, are present there.
May God’s presence be your strength.