When my husband, Joe, was going through some tough times where his career and his job situation were concerned, I earnestly prayed that the Lord would send him some special encouragement. One evening, he was meeting with some friends and business associates at a restaurant near his workplace. Just as Joe and his companions were finishing their dinner and ordering dessert and coffee, a severe thunderstorm swept through the area and knocked out all the power. As darkness fell upon the entire restaurant, the emergency lighting kicked on. It happened to be located right above the table where my husband was sitting. Joe's waiter came by and declared to him and his dining companions, "You are the only ones with light in the whole place! Even the kitchen crew is in darkness!"
When my husband arrived home that evening and told me about his experience, his amazement was evident upon his face. I suddenly recalled the Scripture in Exodus, which says, "But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings". (Exodus 10:23 NKJV) It was an illustration of how the Lord often chooses to make a distinction between those who love and serve Him, and those who do not. Don't you think that the hearts of the Israelites were encouraged by God's demonstration of power and favor on their behalf? You bet they were. And so was my husband's heart encouraged that night at the restaurant. I confess that I spend a lot of time praying for encouragement for myself, my loved ones, and others. Being encouraged in difficult times can make the difference between success and failure, victory and defeat, because we can be tempted to give up when we're under intense pressure. Causing us to stand out in a crowd is one way the Lord can bring encouragement.
Making a distinction between God's people and the rest of the world is a common theme throughout Scripture. Psalm 91:7-8 (NIV) says: "A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked." We've all heard testimonies of how the Lord protected His people in the midst of disaster and calamity. Meditating on promises like these can give us the faith and courage to pray for divine protection and safety for ourselves and our loved ones. Psalm 37:19 (NIV) says: "In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty." Here, the Lord promises His people supernatural strength and provision in the hardest of times.
I believe that there are many times when it's entirely scriptural to ask God to make a distinction between His people and the rest of the world - whether it's on our own behalf, or for the sake of His other saints. Malachi 3:18 (NIV) says: "You will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." I have put this verse in prayer form, and have prayed it for myself and others, inviting the Lord to reveal His power and favor in the lives of His people. We can pray a prayer like this with confidence, as long as we do so with a right heart. Scripture says, "Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man." (Psalm 112:4 NIV) God fulfilled this promise on my husband's behalf in a literal sense that night in the restaurant when the lights went out. But there's an even greater divine message behind this promise for every one of us - that even in our darkest times, God's light will come shining through!
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that it's Your desire to make a distinction between Your people and the world when it glorifies You. Guide me by Your Spirit so that I may know when to pray for You to do exactly that. Thank You for making me stand out in a crowd in ways that will draw others to You!
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