Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:30-33

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So, they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3

Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:

The playoffs of professional basketball are in full swing as teams battle for the NBA championship. One of the pivotal parts

of the game of basketball is the foul line where free throws (shots) are attempted by those who are fouled by opposing players. Success at the foul line is almost always a necessity for a team or player to do well. When a player is not known for doing well at the foul line, it will be said of them that they “struggle” at the foul line. Those who “struggle” at the foul line often spend countless hours practicing to overcome their struggle. However, there are some players who never become good free throw shooters. Every once in awhile you will see a player who is otherwise a great player who goes on in their professional basketball career and never overcomes their struggle to make free throw shots. I wonder if a significant part of the problem for such players is that they struggle with the fact that they struggle. Now “life” is not a series of uncontested free throw shots. “Life” is often more like an ongoing series of attempts at jump shots with all five players from the other team guarding you all at once. We can understand how a poor free throw shooter might struggle with the fact that he struggles. But life is not uncontested and “struggle” is inevitable.

Struggling with the fact that we struggle only compounds the difficulty. Success in life will include making highly contested jump shots so to speak. But success in life is more about not being overwhelmed with the fact that our jump shots are so highly contested. Jesus specializes in being to us that which we need so that we don’t struggle so readily with the fact that we struggle. The one who becomes a “planting of the Lord” and is called an “oak of righteousness” is the one whose roots go down deep into Christ. Rooted deeply in Christ they accept that as long as they are in the world there will be tribulation (struggle). Comfort, gladness, and praise prevail over brokenheartedness, mourning, or fainting because Christ who overcame the world with all its struggles and tribulations lives in them and through them. Miraculously, they become ones who exude peace and courage in the face of the resisting forces of life. This is very much a part of living fully for God. Finding insight and help for becoming this kind of person is the focus of this week’s Devotionals. 

Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:

Lord, I do want to become this kind of person. I know there is a lot of becoming needed on my part. Accepting struggle doesn’t come easy. I am so oriented otherwise. But, Lord I am willing. Please help me to trust you and yield to you for the work of transformation you will do in my life going forward. I thank you and praise you. Amen!