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Max Lucado: You’ll get through this — whatever mess you’re facing God will use for good

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She had a tremble to her, the inner tremble you could feel with just a hand on her shoulder. I saw her in a grocery store. Had not seen her in some months.

I asked about her kids and husband, and when I did, her eyes watered, her chin quivered, and the story spilled out. He’d left her. After twenty years of marriage, three kids, and a dozen moves, gone. Traded her in for a younger model.

She did her best to maintain her composure but couldn’t. The grocery store produce section became a sanctuary of sorts. Right there between the tomatoes and the heads of lettuce, she wept. We prayed.

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Then I said, “You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime don’t be foolish or naive. But don’t despair either. With God’s help you will get through this.”

Audacious of me, right? How dare I say such words? Where did I get the nerve to speak such a promise into tragedy? In a pit, actually. A deep, dark pit. So steep, the boy could not climb out. Had he been able to, his brothers would have shoved him back down. They were the ones who had thrown him in.

So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat a meal. (Gen. 37:23–25)

It was an abandoned cistern. Jagged rocks and roots extended from its sides. The 17-year-old boy lay at the bottom. His hands were bound, ankles tied. He lay on his side, knees to chest, cramped in the small space. The sand was wet with spittle, where he had drooled. His eyes were wide with fear. His voice was hoarse from screaming. It wasn’t that his brothers didn’t hear him.

22 years later, when a famine had tamed their swagger and guilt had dampened their pride, the brothers would confess, “We saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear” (42:21).

These are the great-grandsons of Abraham. The sons of Jacob. Couriers of God’s covenant to a galaxy of people. The name of Jesus Christ will appear on their family tree. But they could have had their own reality TV show. The older brothers despised the boy. Here’s why.

Their father pampered Joseph like a prized calf. Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel, but one love, Rachel. When Rachel died, Jacob kept her memory alive by fawning over their first son.

The brothers worked all day. Joseph played all day. They wore clothes from a secondhand store. Jacob gave Joseph a hand-stitched, multicolored cloak with embroidered sleeves. Jacob treated the eleventh-born like a firstborn. The brothers spit at the sight of Joseph.

Joseph didn’t see this assault coming. He didn’t climb out of bed that morning and think, I’d better dress in padded clothing because this is the day I get tossed into a hole. The attack caught him off guard. So did yours.

Joseph’s pit came in the form of a cistern. Maybe yours came in the form of a diagnosis, a foster home, or a traumatic injury. Joseph was thrown in a hole and despised.

And you? Thrown in an unemployment line and forgotten. Thrown into a divorce and abandoned. The pit. A kind of death, waterless and austere. Some people never recover. Life is reduced to one quest: get out and never be hurt again.

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Joseph’s story got worse before it got better. Abandonment led to enslavement, then entrapment and finally imprisonment. People made promises only to break them, offered gifts only to take them back. If hurt were a swampland, then Joseph was sentenced to a life of hard labor in the Everglades.

Yet he never gave up. Anger never metastasized into hatred. He not only survived; he thrived. He ascended like a helium balloon. An Egyptian official promoted him to chief servant. The prison warden placed him over the inmates. And Pharaoh, the highest ruler on the planet, shoulder-tapped Joseph to serve as his prime minister.

By the end of his life, Joseph was the second most powerful man of his generation. It is not hyperbole to state that he saved the world from starvation.

How did he flourish in the midst of tragedy? We don’t have to speculate. Some 20 years later the roles were reversed, Joseph as the strong one and his brothers the weak ones. They feared he would settle the score and throw them into a pit of his own making. But Joseph didn’t.

And in his explanation we find his inspiration: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (50:20 nasb )

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“You meant evil against me,” Joseph told his brothers, using a Hebrew verb that traces its meaning to “weave” or “plait.” “You wove evil,” he was saying, “but God rewove it together for good.”

God, the Master Weaver. He stretches the yarn and intertwines the colors, the ragged twine with the velvet strings, the pains with the pleasures. Nothing escapes his reach.

Every king, despot, weather pattern, and molecule are at his command. He passes the shuttle back and forth across the generations, and as he does, a design emerges. Satan weaves; God reweaves.

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Embrace that truth – Satan weaves; God reweaves.

And don’t forget what I told my friend in the grocery store – “You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. Don’t be foolish or naïve. But don’t despair either. With God’s help, you will get through this.”

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Trump Withdraws Controversial Nomination Of Anthony Tata To Pentagon

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WASHINGTON, Aug 3 (Reuters) – President Donald Trump has withdrawn the nomination of Anthony Tata, a retired Army brigadier general who has called former President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader,” to be undersecretary of defense for policy, the White House said on Monday.

The White House statement came a day after a Pentagon spokeswoman said Tata, who failed to secure a Senate confirmation hearing, had taken a different, less-senior policy role at the Defense Department.

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2020 election: Trump continues to lose ground as nation grapples with coronavirus

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Given the continuing widespread coronavirus pandemic, the persistent economic devastation millions of Americans are experiencing in its wake and President Donald Trump’s inability to wrest control of the crisis in the minds of a majority of Americans, it is probably not all that surprising that his reelection chances have taken a substantial hit.

From launching a law-and-order message in the face of mostly peaceful protests for racial justice, to Trump shaking up the campaign by demoting his campaign manager, to a short-lived attempt at having the President portray himself as a leader in command of the Covid-19 response, the race for the White House has continued to move in Biden’s direction.

While the cliché is true that the three months from now until Election Day is an eternity in American politics and the race is almost certain to tighten, it is also true that Americans are just six weeks away from beginning to cast ballots and the defining characteristic of this presidential race thus far is Trump’s failed leadership in managing the coronavirus pandemic and an inability to convince enough of the public that Biden is an unacceptable alternative.

Whatever thin cushion existed for Trump’s reelection prospects at the start of this election year has completely evaporated. The President’s path to 270 electoral votes is as narrow as it has ever been. For his part, former Vice President Biden is shoring up some traditionally blue-leaning battleground states, expanding the 2020 battleground map into what has recently been more Republican leaning terrain, and opening up multiple pathways to victory.

Based on public and private polling, where the campaigns are placing their strategic bets with millions of advertising dollars, where the candidates and their surrogates are spending time in person or virtually, conversations with Trump and Biden campaign advisers, Republican and Democratic political operatives, members of Congress, and political professionals involved with outside groups, our current Electoral College outlook reflects that substantial movement in Biden’s direction.

Since our last outlook, we have moved five states (and one congressional district) in the direction of the Democrat. Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states Trump won in 2016 that had been reliably blue for the better part of two decades in presidential elections, are being moved from battleground to lean Democrat, placing an additional 36 electoral votes to Biden’s total. We’ve also moved Virginia from lean Democrat to solid Democrat as the demographics and population shifts in the commonwealth continue to trend away from Republicans and both campaigns appear to be disinclined to spend substantial dollars competing there.

In addition, Georgia, Ohio and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District had all been leaning in Trump’s favor in our last outlook and have now all been moved to the battleground category, which reduces Trump’s electoral vote count by 35 votes.

In this new outlook, Trump starts with a solid base of 125 electoral votes from 20 states that are most likely to be uncontested in the fall. When you combine that base of solid states with the additional 45 electoral votes that are currently leaning in his direction, it brings Trump’s total to 170 electoral votes — 100 votes away from reelection.

Biden’s quest for the White House starts with a solid base of 203 electoral votes from 16 states and the District of Columbia. When you add in the 65 electoral votes that are leaning in his direction, it brings his total to 268 electoral votes — just 2 away from winning the presidency.

That leaves us with six states and a congressional district worth a total of 100 electoral votes that will likely prove decisive in selecting the direction the country heads in for the next four years: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.

If Biden were to win everything in dark or light blue on this map, Donald Trump would need to run the table and win every single battleground to get reelected.

Solid Republican:

Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), Montana (3), Nebraska (4), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3) (125 total)

Leans Republican:

Iowa (6), Nebraska 2nd Congressional District (1), Texas (38) (45 total)

Battleground states:

Arizona (11), Florida (29), Georgia (16), Maine 2nd Congressional District (1), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Wisconsin (10) (100 total)

Leans Democratic:

Colorado (9), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), New Hampshire (4), Nevada (6), Pennsylvania (20) (65 total)

Solid Democratic:

California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), DC (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maine (3), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), New Mexico (5), New York (29), Oregon (7), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Virginia (13), Washington (12) (203 total)

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Maryland Gov. Hogan overrules county mandate for private schools to go virtual

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday revoked the authority of county officials to mandate schools close amid a clash with local health officials.

Local health officials in Maryland’s Montgomery County last week made the decision to keep private and parochial schools closed through October for in-person learning, arguing that having students in the classroom would present a danger to pupils and teachers as the state grapples with COVID-19.

But Hogan amended an emergency executive order, which he issued April 5, that allowed local health departments to have the authority to close any individual facility deemed to be unsafe. He called the Montgomery County mandate “overly broad.”

“The recovery plan for Maryland public schools stresses local flexibility within the parameters set by state officials,” Hogan said in a statement. “Over the last several weeks, school boards and superintendents made their own decisions about how and when to reopen public schools, after consultation with state and local health officials.”

HOGAN CLASHES WITH OFFICIALS OVER MANDATE FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS TO GO VIRTUAL

Hogan added that “private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines.”

“The blanket closure mandate imposed by Montgomery County was overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer,” Hogan said, adding that the state’s recovery “continues to be based on flexible, community-based approach that follows science, not politics.”

“As long as schools develop safe and detailed plans that follow CDC and state guidelines, they should be empowered to do what’s best for their community,” he said, thanking parents, students and school administrators “who have spoken out in recent days about this important issue.”

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Hogan’s move Monday came after Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles in a statement Friday said that opening those schools in any capacity would be unsafe, and as private and parochial schools had signaled their wishes to open for in-person learning, citing their classes, which are smaller in size than public schools, could make them more flexible to follow social distancing guidelines.

Montgomery County Public Schools, as well as most other public school districts across the state, have announced their decision to offer virtual-only instruction this fall.

“At this point the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers,” Gayles said Friday, according to The Baltimore Sun. “We have seen increases in transmission rates for COVID-19 in the State of Maryland, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia, particularly in younger age groups, and this step is necessary to protect the health and safety of Montgomery County residents.”

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