When Life Stinks...
I didn’t know whether or not I should cancel Bible study about a month ago. The stench in the church was so bad. As you may know, my husband and I lead a startup ministry in the inner city of Buffalo, NY called “City Church.”
So, why did I want to cancel Bible study?
Well, here’s the thing: aside from our handful of members that come to church, the skunks like to come, too. In the area where our old white building stands, skunks hang around. It feels almost like the skunks have learned our service schedule, and they spray that foul-smelling liquid like clockwork.
Thankfully, it hasn’t happened over the past few weeks. My husband Kenya placed ammonia-soaked rags around the building, which, as a temporary solution, seems to have worked. We’re praying and hoping the city of Buffalo will make good on its promise to come to our property and help get the issue under control.
So anyway, on the night in question, the air was filled with the pungent odor to the degree that it was difficult to breathe. The smell was suffocating. Despite that, as much as my senses were offended, I did not want to leave and deprive churchgoers of their Wednesday Bible study lesson.
Thank God I stayed and toughed it out. Those who came out were so blessed by the word of God. We laughed together about the odor in the air. After a while, our nostrils adjusted, and we forgot all about the skunk spray. Though it was pretty stinky in there, God had a message to convey. The same was true in the life of the prophet Jeremiah.
In Jeremiah 19, he was ordered by God to preach in a garbage dump. Yikes, right? The place was called Hinnom Valley (also known as Topheth). It was a terrible, unsanitary, stinking, stomach-churning, gruesome place. It smelled so awful because it was here that the sinful people of Judah sacrificed their children to the false god Molech.
In Jeremiah 19:5, God said, “I have never commanded such a horrible deed.”
It is one of the most reprehensible, egregious sins recorded in Scripture. So God used Babylon to penalize Judah. They would be carried into captivity for 70 years and brought to ruin.
In the New Testament, even Jesus spoke of the grotesque Hinnom Valley figuratively, as a place of final punishment and unquenchable fire for sinners. He used the term Gehenna, which is the Greek translation of Hinnom Valley, and was used synonymously with hell.
So let’s think about this for a minute. God essentially sent Jeremiah to “hell” to preach. He had to stand among maggots, corpses and all the things that, under the law, are impure, and naturally speaking, nauseating.
For the obedient prophet, life stank, both literally and figuratively. Nevertheless, God anointed him to deliver an important prophetic word.
Friend, even when life stinks, know that God has anointed you. His will is being accomplished, even during unpleasant seasons. Throughout 2019, tell yourself, God has anointed and empowered me to make it through this.
Just as we can look back and see the validity of those messages Jeremiah delivered from a trash dump, your day is coming as well. You’ll take a retrospective look and see all the ways God’s hand was intervening in the worst situations.
On this, the first day of the New Year, you may find yourself in the garbage dump of life so-to-speak, in a low place. But even in the Valley of Hinnom, never forget, God is there.
Now let me tell you about the good news: God is not going to leave you where you are. This season is temporary. As I told you in today’s podcast, you’re going to cross over into breakthrough. God is going to bless you. He will fulfill His word. Even now, He’s favoring you in negative situations. He’s causing things to work for your good. He’s rewarding your obedience.
When you come out of this valley—not if, but when—you will declare that God is faithful to keep His promises. There is no failure in Him.
Get ready to celebrate. Prepare to rejoice. You’re about to testify. You’re going to be able to tell somebody that when it looked like you were down for the count, God stepped in and shifted things. He turned it around.
To remind you of this truth, I’m stirring the words God said to the prophet in the first portion of Jeremiah 31:17 NLT into your cup of inspiration. That scripture simply says this: “‘There is hope for your future,’ says the LORD.”
As you drink down the contents of your cup, God is reigniting your hope and faith for a positive outcome. Don’t let the overwhelming stench run you away. God is mighty to deliver!
You’re coming out of this valley.
Now let’s pray.
God, You see me and You already know I am in the valley of affliction, but You are my refuge. I rely on You during this hard time. I cling to my faith and declare that this is not my final destination. Thank You for all the ways You have revealed Yourself, even through the test. I will hold fast to Your word and remain in faith for my breakthrough. I am coming out. I speak it. I believe it. I expect it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
As always, thanks for reading and until next time... may today's cup of inspiration uplift, encourage, and empower you!
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