April 20, Saturday

Spiritual Food for Thoughts For the Weekend

“When We Really Pray with our Back Against the Wall”

Esther 9:1

Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.

In 2010, I was on a short-term mission trip to Northeast China. Traveling to different villages, we preached and taught many pastors who had gathered from surrounding villages.  It was during one of these secret gatherings that the police barged in. Four policemen kicked the door open and immediately arrested my pastor and his translator. Within moments, he was put into the police car and driven to the police station, hours away.  I began to panic.

We did the only thing we could do: pray.  For hours and hours, we kept asking God to do something.  When we finally got in touch with the translator who called us from police station, it was not good news. Our pastor was in jail, awaiting his sentence, which was expected to be one or more of the following: a massive fine, jail-time and being added to the “blacklist” of China. The verdict would happen the next morning.

I fell asleep, but I woke up early to the sound of the Chinese locals praying; they had stayed up all night, interceding for my pastor. Soon, a car pulled up and my pastor stepped out with a huge grin on his face. “What happened?” we asked. While the chief of police was explaining all the punishments that could be inflicted upon my pastor, for some reason, his heart softened. Instead of my pastor being punished, the reverse occurred: my pastor shared the Gospel with the police chief, and he agreed not only to release him, but to begin attending church, to learn more about God!

As today’s text says, sometimes God allows “the reverse” to occur to rescue His people, thereby bringing further glory unto Himself. When the Israelites were trembling before the Philistine army, He used a shepherd boy to bring down Goliath. When Jesus was being nailed to the cross, and it seemed all hope was lost, God was actually unfolding his plan for the salvation of man. Today, let us strive to put our faith in our God, especially in the midst of trials, hardship and brokenness. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Prayer: Lord, we rejoice even in our sufferings, not because they are fun, but because we know and believe that you are a God who works even with suffering to produce good.  Open our eyes today to your faithfulness that is revealed in today’s passage, and all throughout Scripture. Increase our faith as we read and meditate. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Cor. 3-4

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