Tag Archives: endurance

Joel 2:18-3:21; Amos 1-4

Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people.

Joel 2:18, NIV

I read of God’s jealousy and mercy. Other verses that follow in this reading hold special meaning to me, but this start grabs my attention. It ignites an old memory of when we were in our first small group, and began to read a part of the Bible. The group leader asked me what I had learned about God in the reading, and I said, “He is jealous.”

I read today of all the ways he tries to get Israel’s attention:

“I gave you empty stomachs in every city
    and lack of bread in every town,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

“I also withheld rain from you
    when the harvest was still three months away.
I sent rain on one town,
    but withheld it from another.
One field had rain;
    another had none and dried up.
People staggered from town to town for water
    but did not get enough to drink,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

“Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,
    destroying them with blight and mildew.
Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

10 “I sent plagues among you
    as I did to Egypt.
I killed your young men with the sword,
    along with your captured horses.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

Amos 4:6-10, NIV

Lord, you call me close to you again and again. You feed me encouragement from others and underscore your love in your word. Like a teacher getting through to a student, you get my attention to tell me: this is important. I listen. I refocus. I remember the verses you’ve given me, and highlight the words you’ve given me in this season. You formed the mountains, created the wind, revealed your thoughts to mankind. You turn dawn to darkness, and tread on the heights of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is your name.

Courtney (66books365)

He who forms the mountains,
    who creates the wind,
    and who reveals his thoughts to mankind,
who turns dawn to darkness,
    and treads on the heights of the earth—
    the Lord God Almighty is his name.

Amos 4:13, NIV

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, 7-day reading pln, Bible in a year reading plan, Cover to cover

Jeremiah 9-12

Jeremiah takes his complaint to the Lord.

You are always righteous, Lord,
    when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
    Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
    Why do all the faithless live at ease?
You have planted them, and they have taken root;
    they grow and bear fruit.
You are always on their lips
    but far from their hearts.
Yet you know me, Lord;
    you see me and test my thoughts about you.
Drag them off like sheep to be butchered!
    Set them apart for the day of slaughter!
How long will the land lie parched
    and the grass in every field be withered?
Because those who live in it are wicked,
    the animals and birds have perished.
Moreover, the people are saying,
    “He will not see what happens to us.” (Jeremiah 12:1-4, NIV)

I love that Jeremiah talks to God and brings his complaint to him. What I love more is God’s response:

“If you have raced with men on foot
    and they have worn you out,
    how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country,
    how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5, NIV)

This response speaks to me of perspective and endurance. Jeremiah’s perspective focuses on the actions of others. But God’s response is of a much bigger picture–a race among peers vs a race against pros. A path along a street vs a quest through wilderness. The comparison pulls back to include a new level of competition … an untamed landscape.

Your relatives, members of your own family—
    even they have betrayed you;
    they have raised a loud cry against you.
Do not trust them,
    though they speak well of you. (Jeremiah 12:6, NIV)

God knows the things Jeremiah doesn’t.

But God made the earth by his power;
    he founded the world by his wisdom
    and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
13 When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
    he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
    and brings out the wind from his storehouses. (Jeremiah 10:12-13, NIV)

I can look back and see evidence of his power and wisdom. But I wonder if complaining is a doubt of the present and future–a doubt that though he was able to do mighty things in the past, is he somehow ignorant of the present? Is he somehow unable to affect the future? Truly, he is wise. Truly, he is able. God knew things Jeremiah didn’t and couldn’t know. I hope I remember this swiftly before I ever set my mind to complaining, and remember his response as well.

Lord, help me to stay diligent in my work, keeping my eyes set on your kingdom and your sovereignty. I could become frustrated or discouraged if my focus is elsewhere, but that doesn’t serve me. I can trust you know the things I don’t know–let me take comfort in your warnings.

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, 7-day reading pln, Bible in a year reading plan, Cover to cover

Isaiah 19:11-24:6

Who am I listening to? Something I heard in a news segment, a podcast, in line at the store? Something someone read and told me about? Am I listening to my own thoughts? I once biked a long section of trail in the days before satellite radio or music services or widespread cell service. That day I covered 60 miles, hearing only (mostly) the crush of tire against gravel, and the incessant stream of thought in my head. It was maddening to be left alone with only my own voice.

As I read through these chapters, I notice how frequently the Lord speaks. Call the words of the prophecy good or bad as you see fit, but in the end it is truth. The Lord says … the Lord has spoken. When I have the word of God at my disposal, am I listening to him?

Lord, while I can meditate on your word, so much noise competes for my attention. I am curious what one person says about burnout … for the better part of an hour, I stream a cadence track in my ears … sometimes, I get lost (so lost) in scrolling through posts and stories–snippets and tidbits leading me like bait … or maybe I get caught up in a book, a plan, a project. Like a child whose thoughts chase the next moment, I hear your voice, but do I listen?

You built a reservoir between the two walls
    for the water of the Old Pool,
but you did not look to the One who made it,
    or have regard for the One who planned it long ago
.

12 The Lord, the Lord Almighty,
    called you on that day
to weep and to wail,
    to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth.

13 But see, there is joy and revelry,
    slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep,
    eating of meat and drinking of wine!
“Let us eat and drink,” you say,
    “for tomorrow we die!”

14 The Lord Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: “Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,” says the Lord, the Lord Almighty.

15 This is what the Lord, the Lord Almighty, says … (Isaiah 22:11-15a, NIV, emphasis added)

Am I listening for your voice, Lord? Your word in my hands … and now I understand how one can walk away (from his reflection) and forget what he looks like.

Did the prophecies arrest the hearts of the hearers? Did what God said sound like life, direction, purpose, plan? (16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV, and I hold fast to your statutes, Lord; do not let me be put to shame. 32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding. Psalm 119:31-32, NIV)

Lord, help me to be a better listener, to be still at your feet, to revere your word. When I leave the house, I take small provisions for the errand: a tumbler of water, a wallet, keys, a pen, reading glasses, etc. When I go out to exercise, I wear the right clothes for the activity and the right shoes for endurance. Why are my heart and mind not as prepared?

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, 7-day reading pln, Bible in a year reading plan, Cover to cover

Psalms 135:15-138:3

How can we sing the songs of the Lord
    while in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:4, NIV)

Psalm 136 tells a story of God and his goodness. And each account has a supporting verse: his love endures forever. Perhaps the writer liked the way this refrain repeated throughout, but for me, I take it as a reminder: His love endures forever. In the good times and in the bad times, I can remember that God is in control and that his love, in fact, does endure forever.

So that way, when I find myself in the despair of Psalm 137, perhaps my heart will remember and sing, “His love endures forever.”

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, 7-day reading pln, Bible in a year reading plan

Job 29:14-32:10

Job searches for cause and effect. He examines his life and his actions. He remembers the good that he has done. So why?

“I thought, ‘I will die in my own house,
    my days as numerous as the grains of sand.
19 My roots will reach to the water,
    and the dew will lie all night on my branches.
20 My glory will not fade;
    the bow will be ever new in my hand.’ (Job 29:18-20, NIV)

His pain, suffering, and exclusion would have made sense to him if he were a terrible man, even a secret sinner. But he was a good man. So why?

“If I have rejoiced at my enemy’s misfortune
    or gloated over the trouble that came to him—
30 I have not allowed my mouth to sin
    by invoking a curse against their life—
31 if those of my household have never said,
    ‘Who has not been filled with Job’s meat?’—
32 but no stranger had to spend the night in the street,
    for my door was always open to the traveler—
33 if I have concealed my sin as people do,
    by hiding my guilt in my heart (Job 31:29-33, NIV)

It’s a formula I’ve come to count on, perhaps erroneously. If you work hard, you’ll be rewarded. Good job performance should equal a raise or promotion. Kind acts should beget kindness returned. But life is much more complicated than that.

I have grasped grief and hope with the same hands. And Job’s grappling with his situation feels like hope being pried from his grip.

“Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man
    when he cries for help in his distress.
25 Have I not wept for those in trouble?
    Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
26 Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;
    when I looked for light, then came darkness.
27 The churning inside me never stops;
    days of suffering confront me.
28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun;
    I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
29 I have become a brother of jackals,
    a companion of owls.
30 My skin grows black and peels;
    my body burns with fever.
31 My lyre is tuned to mourning,
    and my pipe to the sound of wailing. (Job 30:24-31, NIV)

In the bigger picture, the one of holding this book in my hands and knowing the start of Job’s story to the end, I want to whisper to him in these chapters, “It isn’t over yet.”

I know that God considered Job faithful. I know that Satan wanted to test Job’s faith–and likely more than that, wanted to completely destroy it (after all, the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy). The battlefield moves inward as Job expresses those thoughts aloud. Outwardly losing his wealth and family, suffering in health, to inwardly the thoughts that circle in his mind–the grounds for anger, resentment, confusion, doubt, despair. Which is harder: the outer battle or the inner battle?

When my thoughts try to pry hope from my grip, I want to remember this–the bigger picture. The bigger picture Job didn’t see. The bigger picture that tells me in the hardship, “It isn’t over yet.” The bigger picture where Jesus declares it is finished and that he is coming back.

Lord, I’ve lost years in the grapple to make sense of what is with what should be. In the heavy days of what is, let me remember the hope of what will be.

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, 7-day reading pln, Bible in a year reading plan