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Posts Tagged ‘Bible characters’

How do you read a story?

Novels are meant to be read page by page because the stories follow a progression, each page building on the action, tension and conflict of the page before it. That tension is important to keeping the reader engaged in the story until the end where they will see the growth and change of the character. For most people, skipping around or to reading the ending first would spoil the story.

As a young reader, I developed a bad habit. Whenever I reached a point where the tensions began to mount too high for me, I skipped to the end. I had to be sure the hero or heroine would be ok before I could continue. It didn’t seem to dampen my enthusiasm for the story, but rather it enabled me to cope better with the mounting tension. After reading the ending, the rest of the story became a giant flash back, enabling me to see how the characters arrived at the end. I saw details I might otherwise have missed  in the rush to get to that breath of relief at the end.

Unfortunately for us, the story of our lives isn’t like that. God seldom offers us the chance to see how things will end ahead of time. There is no easing of tension in the middle of the action. We have to learn to trust him THROUGH the tension and conflict without being able to see the resolution.

But he does make ways to help us understand and cope with the tension that is causing us to grow and change. Sometimes in the midst of our trials, he will bring others across our paths who have gone through similar experiences. As they share their stories with us, we see a glimmer of hope  that we can and will make it through. Those “mentors” may come in the form of a Bible character or a counselor. It may be an ordinary person who has survived extraordinary circumstances.

God also gives us hindsight to help us through our difficult places. The older we get, the more we can look back on our own Christian walk and see how the previous chapters of our story have worked out. We can see how God orchestrated the events of our lives to make us who we have become. These flashbacks help to remind us of his love and power to keep, heal,  deliver and comfort us through the remainder of the journey. He allows us to see how we’ve grown and changed along the way. It’s one important reason to keep a journal rather than trusting our memory alone.

Best of all, he walks with us,holding our hand or carrying us when we can’t cope with the tension of our lives. It’s a lot like the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness – their circumstances weren’t comfortable or easy, but they always had God’s Spirit with them in the form of the cloud by day and fire by night as well as his provision – the manna. He offers us the same hope that we will eventually come to the Promised Land at the end of the wilderness journey. The Lord will always be with us in the middle of our life story.

We will get through by learning to walk with him in the present, to watch for the help he sends along the way  and to trust him with the outcome. After all, He is a masterful author.

Can you cite some examples of how God has walked with you in the middle of trying circumstances?

 

 

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“May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! He is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort.  He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble. We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God.”        2 Corinthians 1:3-4 CEB

Who is your favorite Bible character and why?

No matter who you chose, it is most likely someone you identify with, perhaps because they have passed through circumstances or stresses similar to your own. Each time you read their story you glean new insights or encouragement that help you live your life more fully as a Christian.

God made sure the writers of scripture included the stories of all these people – warts, wrinkles and all –  as examples to us. After all, no one can encourage, lift, motivate or guide better than someone who has experienced the same things we have. Their lives give us a sense of comfort and hope – if they can make it so can we!

Consider this:  God is still writing His book of human experience today. Life happens. As we grow through our pain, we’re in a unique position to encourage and comfort others if we are willing to share  our experiences openly and honestly.

Thank you Lord, for comforting me when I hurt.  Help me to pass that same comfort on to others. Amen.

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