You are slumped on the stairs, head in your hands, going over in your mind what she said, what you said. You feel that hard knot of anger tightening in your stomach. Here we go again, you think. Why do I keep getting myself into the same messes over and over? You feel the hurt and frustration wash over you as you pray, “Jesus, do something! I can’t stand this anymore.”
God has a way of giving us opportunities to learn something until we get it right. Our actions, attitudes, and life circumstances bring us up against impasses that invite us to face our failure and sin and to find the courage to grow beyond our limitations and the faith to trust God more totally in our lives.
At such moments, backed up against the wall with “the same old, same old,” we feel defeated. Israel had many such moments. We read in Judges, “The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” The book of Judges tells the story of Israel’s crooked road to obedience. Over and over the people wander from God and experience oppression. Then they repent and are renewed and delivered, only to wander again away from God.
God is determined that we live in the fullness of redemptive love, no matter how many times we ignore that saving power.
Suggestion for Meditation: What has you sitting with your head in your hands? Where do you see a repetitive pattern in your life that leads to frustration and broken relationships? What lesson might God want you to learn?
Like us, the Israelites struggle to be consistently faithful to God. God therefore allows a foreign king to rule them until the people come to their senses and cry out for help. The prophet Deborah gives instructions for the battle that will begin the deliverance of the people. The readings from Psalms and Zechariah demonstrate that this pattern of unfaithfulness and restoration has occurred frequently in the history of God’s people. In Thessalonians, Paul echoes what Jesus says in last week’s Gospel reading: We must always be prepared for the return of Christ because we do not know when it will occur. God gives us resources to use for the kingdom, and in Matthew Jesus indicates that God will ask for an account of how well we have used them.
Read Judges 4:1-7. Who has been a judge—someone who helps you discern—in your life? How can you help others discern the way?
Read Psalm 123. How do you focus on God through conflict and struggle?
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. When have you encouraged someone in a time of darkness? When have you been the one in need of encouragement?
Read Matthew 25:14-30. What would change if you considered your dreams and desires as from God? What first step can you take to enact your desires?
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