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Wednesday in the Word

Good morning my dear friends, and happy New Year once again!

I hope 2024 has been treating you well thus far! I feel like as an INFP, I am always on the go and seeking out new beginnings and new projects with new visions, and I don't quite ever settle down for long. It is nice that this year, I have been pretty grounded with family - my in-laws came over for the holidays, and it was just a wonderful way to end and start the year.

One of the things I've been reflecting on for this past year was gratitude. Something that I think made my relationship with my now-husband rocky was lack of gratitude. It's been a goal of mine to pause and think about what I am grateful for in the moment, rather than upset at what isn't there. To be honest, it is hard; there are a lot of people and things we can compare ourselves and our situations to, and feel envious, jealous, bitter, and upset. Just as it's not head knowledge that gives us faith, but rather a changed heart, it's not head knowledge that we "should be" grateful that changes our outlook in life. Rather, we must be reminded and believe from our hearts that there is more to be grateful for than to be bitter about.

I know that when gratitude comes up, normally it is Job who is brought up, but I have actually been meditating a lot more regarding Jonathan - not only is that the name of my husband, but I think he is also a character who really shows what it means to have gratitude. He doesn't have his own book, and his life is recounted in 1 Samuel. As a recap, Jonathan isn't even really a main character at all. We have Samuel (of course), King Saul, and David taking up the lead roles. 1 Samuel begins with the story of how Samuel became called to be a judge and prophet, and how he eventually appoints Saul as king over Israel, due to the demand for a king. The people also really liked King Saul because he was a hunk of a man (no seriously, he was so good looking the Bible had to document it: "Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people" - 1 Samuel 9). However, he began to stray away from God, and that was when David was chosen to take the throne after Saul. Saul, in his jealousy, begins a serious of attempts at David's life.

Where does Jonathan fall in all of this? He is the eldest son of King Saul, meaning he should have been rightfully the next in line for the throne. However, he is also a close friend of David, the one who will take the throne. Of all people, Jonathan should have been the most jealous, envious, and sneaky towards David. However, he was actually the one who warned David about King Saul, and he submits to God's provision: "You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this." - 1 Samuel 23:17. Though he is the rightful heir to the throne, Jonathan tells David that he will stand by him in his reign, because he knows that David has been appointed by God. He fully accepted God's plan, and did not barter. Rather, he remained a faithful friend until the end. Unfortunately, he never gets the chance to be beside David in his rule, as he dies with King Saul in 1 Samuel 31. Instead, David honors their friendship by taking in Jonathan's son Mephibosheth, "I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always." - 2 Samuel 9. Even Mephibosheth was was surprised and thought David would kill him, as it would be custom of a new king to make sure the members of the last ruling family were decimated to eliminate chances of uprising.

I've always found the story of David and Jonathan's friendship fascinating, because growing up, I remember watching so many historical asian dramas with cut-throat palace-politics and stories with backstabbing with my parents. The lesson I always gleaned from the drama storylines was that you can't trust anyone - except for the male/female leads for plot purposes. I think the story of Jonathan is a great example of how the presence of God can really impact a relationship to overcome what the world teaches us is logical. We see the juxtaposition of Saul and Jonathan - David served Saul faithfully, and even avenged his death, yet Saul was so bitter and tunnel-visioned in on how David would take the throne from him. David didn't even try to hurt Saul, and in fact vowed to never hurt who God had appointed first as the king of Israel. On the other hand, Jonathan submitted and was content with the situation, and stood by David's side. He stood for justice, even against his own father to protect David, and relinquished control of the situation to God.

I think based on context clues within Scripture, we know that David has a lot of gratitude despite hard situations (re: Psalm), but I think we can also see the silent practice of gratitude on Jonathan's end.

"And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. Then Jonathan said to David, 'Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’' And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city." - 1 Samuel 20:42

Jonathan is having to choose between his father and his beloved friend - and many of us can only imagine the anguish he was feeling when he realized his father's plan to kill David. Though he is clearly grieved, he puts his trust in God, and has a very clear attitude that the Lord is enough - because God is between himself and Dvid, he trusts that their friendship will be honored for generations to come, and he is able to tell David to go in peace while he returns to his father and serve as a filial and faithful son, as well.

Gratitude does not necessarily come in the form of singing praises, or even being joyful. Instead, Scripture states that it is the peace of God that surpasses logic that is.a reflection of prayer thanksgiving towards God.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7

I think Jonathan's peace, despite circumstances, is a good reminder of what it means to be a good steward of our roles and have peace in God - being grateful for the Lord's presence and trusting that God will allow situations to work out in His timing. And likewise, he also encourages David through his steadfastness.

I definitely still have a lot to pray through and have gratitude in, but I am thankful as well that I have the opportunity to reflect on these things and share with a safe community. I hope that you, too, have a safe community to share your innermost thoughts and concerns, and if not, please feel free to drop a message or e-mail! :) I'd gladly be your friend.

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