When You are in Distress

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 35 & 36

Psalms Reading: Psalm 20

New Testament Reading: Matthew 19

In life we come to places where we are in distress, we feel hopeless, and we feel like our circumstances couldn’t be darker. But God is full of hope and knows his plans for us if we trust him.

We begin in Genesis, Jacob has fled from his home from his brother Esau, and after he left Laban now Jacob is being told by God to return to Bethel, the place where he had stopped after running from his brother and having a dream.

Before they get there Jacob tells his family in Genesis 35:2

“So, Jacob said to his household and all who were with him, get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. We must get up and go to Bethel. I will build an alter there to the God who has answered me in my day of distress. He has been there with me everywhere I have gone.”

Jacob is telling his family how God has blessed him and that they are not going back to that place of foreign gods. Just as we are not going back to our places of distress and false gods.

Psalm 20:1

“May the Lord answer you in a day of trouble; may the name of Jacob’s God protect you.”

God provides answers in all our times of distress. In our times of trouble, when we don’t understand why things are happening, he knows why things are happening. He provides us comfort in our struggles; we need to lean on him. God will provide.

It is after this that God tells Jacob to be fruitful and multiply, and he reminds Jacob of the promise he had made to Abraham and Isaac concerning the land.

This means something to us too when times get difficult. We will experience the blessings of God at times, but when questionable circumstances come our way, we need to remember how we obtained those blessings. Forgetting about God in times of need would be a sure sign that we are getting on the wrong path.

Matthew 19 also contains a lot of information. Jesus had to deal with the pharisees trying to trip him up constantly, but what stands out to me is Matthew 19:21-22.

“If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.”

This man was faithful to God and had a lot of possessions, but he did not connect his possessions with God’s blessings.  The same goes with us, too often we forget that when times are good and we are feeling high in life, that our blessings come from God!

We can’t forget that in our good and bad times that no matter what, we are to devote ourselves to God. Trust in him and he will bring you through everything that you experience.

-Hannah Eldred

Reflection Questions

  1. What are your usual responses when you feel you are in a time of distress? Are they helpful responses?
  2. What can we learn from our Bible passages today regarding how to turn to God?
  3. What can we learn from our Bible passages today regarding who God is and what He does?

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