Week of Monday, March 20 ­– Sunday, March 26
Tough It Out – Man as Provider

"The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust—there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults. For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men." - Lamentations 3:25-33 ESV
Andrew Klavan wrote the following story in The Wall Street Journal about Hall of Fame baseball player Gary Carter, who died of cancer at age 57:
Carter was a devout Christian with just the bright, inspiring Tim Tebow sort of personality our media can’t stand. He was forever thanking Jesus Christ in postgame interviews. He once remarked that he could see the smiles curdle on the faces of unbelieving journalists when he did it, but he felt he had to tell the truth.

 I was not a Christian then—not yet—and if Carter had preached religion at that moment, it would have gone right past me. But he didn’t. He said something else, something much simpler but also true. I don’t remember the words exactly but a fair translation would be this: “Sometimes you just have to play in pain.”

 Carter’s words somehow broke through my self-pitying despair. “Play in pain?” I thought, “I can do that. That’s one thing I actually know how to do.”
I had been looking for answers but I didn’t know the answers. I had been looking for solutions, but solutions were for another day. It hadn’t occurred to me that maybe, for now at least, the only way to go on living was to do like the great athletes do and just tough it out.

In the book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah is attempting to tough it out and “play in pain.” He is understandably heartbroken over the nation of Judah’s stubborn refusal to return to the Lord and suffering the consequences. We refer to Jeremiah as the “the weeping prophet” for good reason. He was an eyewitness to the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and their Temple. He watched children begging for food, men and women slaughtered with the sword, fires raging out of control in the city, and the awful sight of his people carried away into captivity. Yet, through his tear-filled eyes, he toughed it out and continued to serve the Lord.
As providers, we must do more than provide food and shelter. We must provide  examples of hope, leadership, and courage in times of duress. That was a tall order for Jeremiah. Yet, he came through. During the darkest of circumstances, Jeremiah told his readers they could trust God regardless of what was happening to them. He declared that, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (vv. 22-23). The prophet confidently knew that he could tough it out because he had his hope and trust in God! So, Jeremiah gives us an example we need to replicate with our families and friends. Declaring our hope in God during suffering provides a powerful example.
Whether or not the source of our suffering is driven by our own choices and decisions or from those of others, we too can tough it out by clinging to the faithfulness of the Lord! We can tough it out and we can stay in the game as we wrap our hearts around the same truth Jeremiah proclaimed: “‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’” (v. 24). Some of the greatest examples of Standing Courageous are of those men of God who have played, fought, and toughed it out while in pain!
 - Although most of us have not experienced the types of horrific and traumatic situations Jeremiah endured, when you go through tough times and even suffering, what do those around you see from you that speaks of your relationship with God?
- How is your example of trust and hope in God providing inspiration to those God has entrusted you to lead and influence?
- Pray and ask God for His help in seeing beyond our personal pain and suffering and providing an intentional example of faith in the Lord.