Since age eight, Lisa had struggled with a stammer and became afraid of social situations that required her to talk with people. But later in life, after speech therapy helped her overcome her challenge, Lisa decided to use her voice to help others. She began volunteering as a counselor for an emotional distress telephone hotline.
Moses had to face his concerns about speaking to help lead the Israelites out of captivity. God asked him to communicate with Pharaoh, but Moses protested because he didn’t feel confident in his speaking ability (Exodus 4:10). God challenged him, “Who gave human beings their mouths?” Then He reassured Moses saying, “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (vv. 11–12).
God’s response reminds us that He can work powerfully through us even in our limitations. But even when we know this in our hearts, it can be hard to live it out. Moses continued to struggle and begged God to send someone else (v. 13). So God allowed Moses’ brother Aaron to accompany him (v. 14).
Each of us has a voice that can help others and change the world for the better. We may be afraid. We may not feel capable. We may feel we don’t have the right words.
God knows how we feel. He can provide the words and all we need to serve others and accomplish His work.
When my daughter received a pair of pet crabs as a gift, she filled a glass tank with sand so the creatures could climb and dig. She supplied water, protein, and vegetable scraps for their dining pleasure. They seemed happy, so it was shocking when they disappeared one day. We searched everywhere. Finally, we learned they were likely under the sand, and would be there for about two months as they shed their exoskeletons.
Two months passed, and then another month elapsed, and I had begun to worry that they’d died. The longer we waited, the more impatient I became. Then finally, we saw signs of life, and the crabs emerged from the sand.
I wonder if Israel doubted that God’s prophecy for them would be fulfilled when they lived as exiles in Babylon. Did they feel despair? Did they worry they would be there forever? Through Jeremiah, God had said, “I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to [Jerusalem]” (v. 11). Sure enough, seventy years later, God caused the Persian king Cyrus to allow the Jews to return and rebuild their temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1–4).
In seasons of waiting when it seems like nothing is happening, God hasn’t forgotten us. As the Holy Spirit helps us to develop patience, we can know that He’s the Hope-giver, the Promise Keeper, and the One who controls the future.
Everyone in high school admired Jack’s easygoing attitude and athletic skill. He was happiest in midair above a half-pipe ramp—one hand holding his skateboard, the other stretched out for balance.
Jack decided to follow Jesus when he started attending a local church. Up to that point, he’d endured significant family struggles and had used drugs to medicate his pain. For a while after his conversion, things seemed to be going well for him. But years later he started using drugs again. Without the proper intervention and ongoing treatment, he eventually died of an overdose.
It’s easy to turn back to what is familiar when we face difficulty in life. When the Israelites felt the distress of an upcoming Assyrian attack, they crawled back to the Egyptians—their former slave masters—for help (Isaiah 30:1–5). God predicted this would be disastrous, but He continued to care for them although they made the wrong choice. Isaiah voiced God’s heart: “The
This is God’s attitude toward us, even when we choose to look elsewhere to numb our pain. He wants to help us. He doesn’t want us to hurt ourselves with habits that create bondage. Certain substances and actions tempt us with a quick sense of relief, but God wants to provide authentic healing as we walk closely with Him throughout the course of our lives.
Ironclad beetles are known for their tough exterior which protects them from predators. One special variety, however, has extraordinary strength under pressure. The insect’s hard, outer shell stretches, rather than cracks, where it joins together. Its flat back and low profile also help it to resist fractures. Scientific tests show that it can survive a compression force of nearly 40,000 times its body weight.
God made this bug extra tough, and He gave resilience to Jeremiah as well. The prophet would face intense pressure when he delivered unwelcome messages to Israel, so God promised to make him “an iron pillar and a bronze wall” (Jeremiah 1:18). The prophet wouldn’t be flattened, dismantled, or overwhelmed. His words would stand strong because of God’s presence and rescuing power.
Throughout his life, Jeremiah was falsely accused, arrested, tried, beaten, imprisoned, and chucked into a well—yet he survived. Jeremiah also persisted despite the weight of inner struggles. Doubt and grief plagued him. Constant rejection and the dread of a Babylonian invasion added to his mental stress.
God continually helped Jeremiah so that his spirit and testimony weren’t shattered. When we feel like giving up on the mission He’s given us, or backing away from living faith-filled lives, we can remember that Jeremiah’s God is our God. He can make us as strong as iron because His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
A couple who stopped to admire a large abstract painting noticed open paint cans and brushes underneath it. Assuming it was a “work in progress” that anyone could help create, they stroked in some color and left. The artist, though, had purposefully left the supplies there as part of the finished work’s display. After reviewing video footage of the incident, the gallery acknowledged the misunderstanding and didn’t press charges.
The Israelites who lived east of the Jordan created a misunderstanding when they built a massive altar next to the river. The western tribes viewed this as rebellion against God—everyone knew the tabernacle was the only God-approved place for worship (Joshua 22:16).
Tensions mounted until the eastern tribes explained that they only meant to make a replica of God’s altar. They wanted their descendants to see it and recognize their spiritual and ancestral connection with the rest of Israel (vv. 28–29). They exclaimed: “The Mighty One, God, the
Because God “searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought” (1 Chronicles 28:9) everyone’s motives are clear to Him. If we ask Him to help us sort out confusing situations, He may give us the chance to explain ourselves or the grace we need to forgive offenses. We can turn to Him when we’re striving for unity with others.
In 1478, Lorenzo de Medici, the ruler of Florence, Italy, escaped an attack on his life. His countrymen sparked a war when they tried to retaliate for the attack on their leader. As the situation worsened, the cruel King Ferrante I of Naples became Lorenzo’s enemy, but a courageous act by Lorenzo changed everything. He visited the king unarmed and alone. This bravery, paired with his charm and brilliance, won Ferrante’s admiration and ended the war.
Daniel also helped a king experience a change of heart. No one in Babylon could describe or interpret a troubling dream King Nebuchadnezzar had. This made him so angry that he decided to execute all his advisors—including Daniel and his friends. But Daniel asked to visit the king who wanted him dead (Daniel 2:24).
Standing before Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel gave God all the credit for revealing the mystery of the dream (v. 28). When the prophet described and deciphered it, Nebuchadnezzar honored the “God of gods and the Lord of kings” (v. 47). Daniel’s uncommon courage, which was born of his faith in God, helped him, his friends, and the other advisors avoid death that day.
In our lives, there are times when bravery and boldness are needed to communicate important messages. May God guide our words and give us the wisdom to know what to say and the ability to say it well.
A little girl waded in a shallow creek while her father watched. Her rubber boots reached her knees. As she sloshed downstream, the water deepened until it flowed over the top of her waders. When she couldn’t take another step, she yelled, “Daddy, I’m stuck!” In three strides, her father was at her side, pulling her to the grassy bank. She yanked her boots off and laughed as water poured onto the ground.
After God rescued the psalmist David from his enemies, he took a moment to sit down, “pull off his boots,” and allow the relief to flood his soul. He wrote a song to express his feelings. “I called to the
Maybe today you feel opposition around you. Maybe you’re stuck in sin that makes it hard to advance spiritually. Reflect on how God has helped you in the past—praise Him and ask Him to do it again! And thank Him especially for rescuing you by bringing you into His kingdom (Colossians 1:13).
Catherine and I were good friends in high school. When we weren’t talking on the phone, we were passing notes in class to plan our next sleepover. Sometimes we rode horses together and partnered on school projects.
One Sunday afternoon, I started to think about Catherine. My pastor had spoken that morning about how to have eternal life, and I knew my friend didn’t believe the Bible’s teachings the way I did. I felt pressed to call her and explain how she could have a relationship with Jesus. I hesitated, though, because I was afraid she would reject what I said and distance herself from me.
I think this fear keeps a lot of us quiet. Even the apostle Paul had to ask people to pray that he would “fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19). There’s no getting around the risk involved with sharing the good news, yet Paul said he was an ambassador—someone speaking on behalf of God (v.20). We are too. If people reject our message, they’re also rejecting the One who sent the message. God feels the sting along with us.
So what compels us to speak up? We care about people, like God does (2 Peter 3:9). That’s what led me to dial my friend’s number. Amazingly, Catherine didn’t shut me down. She listened. She asked questions. She asked Jesus to forgive her sin and decided to live for Him. The risk was worth the reward.
During a summer study program, my son read a book about a boy who wanted to climb an Alpine mountain in Switzerland. Practicing for this goal occupied most of his time. When he finally set off for the summit, things didn’t go as planned. Partway up the slope, a teammate became sick and the boy decided to stay behind to help instead of achieving his goal.
In the classroom, my son’s teacher asked, “Was the main character a failure because he didn’t climb the mountain?” One student said, “Yes, because it was in his DNA to fail.” But another child disagreed. He reasoned that the boy was not a failure, because he gave up something important to help someone else.
When we set aside our plans and care for others instead, we’re acting like Jesus. Jesus sacrificed having a home, reliable income, and social acceptance to travel and share God’s truth. Ultimately, He gave up His life to free us from sin and show us God’s love (1 John 3:16).
Earthly success is much different from success in God’s eyes. He values the compassion that moves us to rescue disadvantaged and hurting people (v.17). He approves of decisions that protect people. With God’s help, we can align our values with His and devote ourselves to loving Him and others, which is the most significant achievement there is.