But He needed to go through Samaria John 4:4
In Jesus’ day Jews rarely went by way of Samaria. We could speculate that Jesus needed to go through Samaria to avoiding the Jewish leaders or maybe just because it was shorter and he was tired! We don’t know the reason but we can all identify with having to go somewhere that we would prefer to avoid.
Samaria was a bit like the business district we go around so we don’t get stuck in traffic. It could be a job you don’t like or a family commitment that is getting heavier every day. You may have to sit by the bedside of a loved one for whom the doctors have to hope. There could be a surgery or a crushing debt that must be paid looming on your horizon. All of our Samarias are different but the one thing they each have in common is that we must go through them.
It is comforting to know at those times of trial, temptation and weariness that Jesus doesn’t just command us to keep going, He has gone ahead of us to prepare the way. Jesus had to go through Samaria because Samaria is where he found you and I. Samaria is where He gave us hope. Samaria is where we discovered we could be accepted by God. Samaria is the place Jesus chose to go and He calls for us to go with Him through our own Samaria today.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth… Psalm 146:5-6a
As I was looking out the hospital window we were waiting for the results of tests. My friend’s surgery had not gone well. Something was sapping his strength and he struggled a bit to breath.At those moments when we look to the line that divides the horizon, where can we find hope?
Below lies the world of all I understand. Above is the limitless unknown sea where only my faith in Christ can sail. That is where God extends His invitation to come with my questions and fears. He – the universe maker knows each intimate detail of what I understand and also of what is still hidden. He challenges me to trust Him at that meeting place of doubt and my faith. He waits more quietly than I like, for me to decide who I will trust with my tomorrow. Then at the very exact moment when I cast all my cares on Him, He comes quickly and gives me His hope to face everything that lies beyond.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me Psalm 23:4
When I read about the valley of the shadow I sometimes remember driving through a place called Sugar Hollow. Though everything might seem sunny on the approach to the hollow, dark shadows would begin to intrude across the road as it twisted and turned into the entrance to the hollow. The hills on both sides were steep and they cast such a shadow that in the late afternoon drivers quickly put on their headlights. The brightness of the day disappeared as we passed through that mile.
In the same way, God has chosen to lead us through a region called “the valley of the shadow of death”. The presence of a shadow tells us that we are close to the object which is blocking the source of light. The closeness of our sins bring darkness into our lives but Psalm 23 gives us some lampposts to light the way to our Father’s house.
First Lamppost -He is with us
When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant he was afraid and ready to quietly abandon his hopes of marriage and happiness at her side. But God told Joseph to not be afraid because Mary’s miracle child was to be called – Immanuel “God with us” Matthew 1:23
Second Lamppost – God prepares our table
On the night that Jesus was betrayed He prepared a table. He served the bread and the wine and then washed the disciples’ feet. Our greatest hope is in the God who prepares a table for us in the wilderness and in the middle of the darkest part of the valley of the shadow. He chooses in the middle of betrayal to offer hope, life and forgiveness. There is no brighter light to shine in our dark places!
Third Lamppost – He anoints our head
When David remembered the day he was anointed he would have remembered that God had chosen him even when everyone else had forgotten about him. God also remembers us and has a plan of restoration so awesome that it will be so much that our cup will overflow!
He leads by walking with us through the valley. He leads by providing all we need in the darkest places of our lives. He leads by choosing the path of restoration for us that will lead all the way home!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of prayer is hope. We must have real hope – not just “with a wing and a prayer” hope. God Himself who is The God of Hope, will give us as His gift a hope that has its anchor in His own heart. He will give a hope that does more than just keep our candle of faith flickering. God will pour out into our hearts a hope that will so completely fill us that it will spill over into the lives of others.
The good Samaritan came down the road and performed more than just an act of pity. As he poured out the oil and the wine over the wounds of his neighbor, he was pouring in hope. He walked along side all the way to the inn with hope. He stayed up all night taking care of him because of that hope. He took the money from his pocket to pay the inn keeper extra with certainty of the restoration for his new friend.
Our God of Hope is not a stingy God. He gives us so much more than we could need just as he unfolds beauty upon beauty even in the simplest blossom. So whether you are one of God’s finest Tea roses or a humble Marigold, God has a treasure of hope reserved for you. As your prayers look up into the face of God today prepare for His perfect gift of hope. He will fill your cup so much that it will spill over to anyone who happens to be near!