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What to Pray in Uncertain Times


Almost ten years ago, my family and I had the honor of becoming members of Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue in Dallas, TX. Rabbi Marty Waldman, son of Holocaust survivors, founded this congregation in 1984, and it is now led by his son, Rabbi Ari Waldman, one of my dear friends. Rabbi Marty invited us to become members as Gentiles who love the Jewish people, and we stayed with them until we had a blessed transition to Gateway Church.

One of the most memorable experiences we had was when the congregation would finish the reading of one book of the Torah. Before starting the next book in the public reading, the whole congregation would raise their voices together and chant/pray in Hebrew: Chazak! Chazak! V’nitchazek! We would repeat this three times in total, each time louder than the last.

The meaning of this was “Be Strong! Be Strong! Let US be strengthened!”

I immediately wondered why we would shout this aloud together. I discovered that it was because we were transitioning from one book of the Torah to the other. And during times of transition on the journey of life, we are very vulnerable. We are tempted to fear, tempted to stray off course, and tempted to shrink back.

Joshua faced these very emotions when he was leading the people of Israel after Moses died. God reminds him to “be strong” numerous times in the beginning of the Book of Joshua. Why? Because Joshua was about to enter a season of immense vulnerability, uncertainty, and challenge as he led the people of Israel across the Jordan into the Land God had promised them.

Those of you who are part of our church or have been paying attention to the news know that we are experiencing a shocking and painful situation right now. My team and I offer our deepest and most sincere apologies to every person who has been hurt, disoriented, or affected by this. We are all feeling a level of emotional vulnerability that is often overwhelming.

Now is a time to remind ourselves daily to “be strong, be strong, and strengthen one another.” We need the strength of the Lord and the strength of one another to endure uncertain times and move towards God’s good plans for our lives.

It is in moments like this that I draw from the strength of trusting God’s unbreakable commitment to Israel and the Jewish people. I can confidently look at Israel’s history and see that God will always fulfill His promises and that I partake in these promises as a Gentile who has been added to God’s family through faith in the King of Israel, Jesus.

The words of Jeremiah give me the strength to continue forging ahead in these uncertain times:

It is the LORD who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and this is what he says: “I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!” This is what the LORD says: “Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away… I, the LORD, have spoken!

Jeremiah 31:35-37 NLT

God will stick with us, even when we’re not worthy of Him. And God will give us the strength to press forward in times of vulnerable uncertainty.

Let’s keep our eyes on Him and remind one another to be strong, be strong, be very strong!

By Nic Lesmeister

Executive Director

Gateway Center for Israel

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