Running on Empty

Running on empty is a cliche in foster care and adoption circle. Or just parent circles. Well, really…in human circles. It seems that we’re all just gettin’ by on fumes. I always panic when I see the gauge tip toward empty in my car. I was working from home today but drove my car down the long windy and icy driveway to get the mail and back, but still my heart sank when I saw the gauge.

We all want life in a full tank and a new car, don’t we? And if that is not our situation, we might think there is something WRONG somewhere going on. This is especially true in Christianity where we’ve been conditioned to believe that life in Messiah means getting everything WE want. In fact, in any religious culture that preaches “‘peace! peace’ where there is no peace” (prosperity gospel) we often get the impression that the good life in Messiah means never suffering ‘lack’.

But when did NOT suffering become the ‘test’ whether we have God’s favor or not? that idea is certainly foreign to the people the bible was written to. Remember, the bible was written TO the ancients, but is FOR us all.

I sometimes wonder if the avoidance in reading the left side of our bibles is because that’s where we unmistakably learn that a Covenant with God doesn’t promise a life of ease after all. Just look at the patriarch’s lives! Instead, God promises His faithfulness to us to never leave us or forsake us, but that is hardly a trouble-free life. His is truly the better offer, but we don’t naturally see that, we have to grow and mature into that kind of faith in Him. It’s hard to grow into that if no one is encouraging us that way.


Paul gets the concept and tries to teach it. Look at what he says in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 which, as is the case with all his writing, is a commentary on the torah. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed..” The word despairing is the greek word “exaporoumenoi”. It means “You are never going to be in a place where you are utterly at a loss, where all hope has been removed.” (thanks to Dr. Skip Moen for that understanding).


As Dr. Moen says, we are not guaranteed that we’ll have a full tank in a new car, but even a needle that reads empty won’t run out of gas. God promises THAT.

Are you running on empty today? Know that you are still highly favored and loved. All hope is never utterly lost. Ask God to increase your faith in Him in these moments. Rely on His promises that He is there with you in all the struggles that are common to humanity.

NOTE: How can you apply this to your parenting of hurt children? How can you show them that even in their hardest trials – the ones that they suffered before coming into your family – that God was in it with them? Before we can teach this idea, we must live it ourselves. We can;t take someone to a ‘place’ of healing that we’ve not been to yet. But maybe we can travel together.

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