30 Days of Hopeful: Day 22

Do you ever feel like your dream will never come true? The obstacles just won’t budge.  You can’t seem to win your spiritual battle, no matter how much you pray and pray and pray. And you feel like you are losing hope.  Perhaps you need a breakthrough.

Breakthrough was first used as a military term to signify an offensive thrust past the defensive lines of warfare. The word entered the realm of common speech during the technological age, often used to describe a sudden discovery or invention.  Breakthroughs usually occur only after repeated failures.

Think about it. Thomas Edison tried unsuccessfully over ten thousand times before his final breakthrough invention of the electric light bulb. The Wright brothers experienced hundreds of crashes before their breakthrough in flight.  And countless scientists performed endless experiments before breakthroughs in DNA research.

Breakthroughs help our hope to soar.  But they require perseverance.  Especially in the spiritual realm, where we sometimes crash into unseen enemies.  We can learn a lesson from the Psalmist and warrior-king David.   Years earlier, he had conquered the Philistine giant Goliath.  But we see him once again, facing the Philistine army not far from the very site of his famous face-to-face encounter with the giant.

This time, the Philistines waged their attack in the Valley of Rephaim, which means “the valley of giants” or “the valley of trouble.”  Though a seasoned warrior, David pauses to pray, asking God for His marching orders.

So David asked God, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord replied, “Yes, go ahead. I will hand them over to you.” So David and his troops went up to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “God did it!” David exclaimed. “He used me to burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So they named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”) (1 Chronicles 14:10, 11 NLT).

The Philistines abandoned their gods and fled, but returned again to raid the valley one more time.  Even with the memory of the first victory still fresh in his mind, David prays to the Lord and listens for His strategy:

Once again David asked God what to do. “Do not attack them straight on,” God replied. “Instead, circle around behind and attack them near the poplar trees. When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, go out and attack! That will be the signal that God is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistine army.” So David did what God commanded, and they struck down the Philistine army all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.  So David’s fame spread everywhere, and the Lord caused all the nations to fear David (1 Chronicles 14:14-17 NLT).

Good thing David was listening, for God’s strategy this time required a very different response.  I’m reminded of Aslan’s comment to Lucy: “Things never happen the same way twice”  (C.S.Lewis’s Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia).

Persevere in your battle to reach your dream, my friend.  Hold onto your hope.  Ask God for guidance.  Get quiet enough to listen. You might be surprised at His answers.  Obey immediately.  Like King David, seek Him every time.  Humility is the mark of a good soldier.  I hope you experience the great joy of victory.  I pray that  your “Valley of Trouble” becomes your place of hope. The place where you encounter Jesus, your “Lord of the Breakthrough.”

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