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roller coaster photoThe tallest roller coaster in the world is in Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey. It is 456 feet high with a maximum drop of 418 feet and a maximum speed of 128 mph. There are thrills on roller coaster rides associated with the ups and downs and twists and turns. Your body has dramatic forces exerted on it that is exhilarating for many but not all. What seems like an extreme experience occurs in a relatively safe environment.

Life can seem like a roller coaster ride. We go through dramatic circumstances that are often out of our control. Sometimes the ups and downs are the result of our own actions and decisions. How do we handle the feelings of euphoria when we seem to be on top of the world? Perhaps more importantly, how do we deal with the low points that inevitably invade our existence?

The book of Judges in the Old Testament gives an account of the nation of Israel from the time that they entered their Promised Land until they were given a king to rule over them. During this time of about 300 years the people of Israel went through a recurring cycle of being disobedient to God, suffering oppression from neighboring countries, turning back to God, and God delivering them from their troubles. This occurs 5 times during this period. The third time this occurs concerns a man named Gideon.

Reading: Judges 6-7

In Judges chapter 6 the people of Israel once again turned away from God and disobeyed Him. God allows the Midianites to impoverish the Israelites for seven years before they cry out to God to deliver them. God calls upon Gideon to lead Israel to throw off their oppressors. In chapter 7 Gideon first led the people of Israel to turn back to God in obedience and then led them in battle against the Midianites. This battle is famous in that Gideon’s army was reduced to only 300 men to demonstrate that it was not by their own strength but by God’s strength that they were able to regain their freedom and enjoy a period of peace.

We are like the Israelites. When everything is going well, we sometimes feel like we don’t need God or anyone else. When we have down times, God can use those times to get our attention. C. S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” May we turn to God in our good times and bad because they both will come upon us. In the New Testament Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Questions

1. When do you feel happiest?
2. How do you celebrate these happy times?
3. What causes you to feel depressed?
4. How do you cope with these feelings?
5. How can you keep your life from being a roller coaster?
6. What are your greatest emotional attachments?

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