The Third Chapter

In my life, there have been several times when I felt completely hopeless and helpless. But three of those instances came to mind this week, and I want to share them with you. 

In 2015 my migraines were out of control, and my diet and new job stress were the double whammy of almost madness. The pain and fear was paralyzing. Once or twice in a 20-day stretch, I thought that ending my life would serve me better. 

The second time was in 2022. My daughter got COVID, and her stomach stopped processing food. The nerves in her stomach got jumbled with long-haul COVID, and we could not find the solution for months. Nothing I could do would stop her from throwing up and feeling severely sick and nauseous. 

The final time was also last year when the new house we bought fell apart. The renovations caused more renovations. It seemed like a new emergency and thousands of dollars every day for months. It was like we were living in the movie, The Money Pit. I felt foolish and nowhere close to being in control. 

In time, God saw us through it all. He connected us with the right tests, doctors, friends, and contractors. But it was hard. Brutally hard. 

Early this week, I woke with a migraine, Anna deduced Cora’s weekend stomach bug was the return of her stomach nerve issue, and we had a mishap in the kitchen where there was almost a fire. As each issue popped up, I was strangely calm and without fear. God seemed to pause with me each time and ask, “Is something different this time?” Which got me wondering what was different. Am I different? Are the circumstances different? 

The simple answer was repetition and trust. 

God saw us through all of it once, and we knew with meds, a little discipline, and some elbow grease, our lives could be safely put back into order.

The story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 has always mystified me. In this showdown with King Ahab, his faith is bold, daring, slightly sarcastic, and unapologetic. God sent him out, and he blazed a trail of God’s Power and Glory as he went. I have always thought about how brave Elijah was! I wish I had the calm and power that comes from having that kind of faith. But my awe comes from only looking at the 3rd chapter in the story. Elijah was standing on his experiences where God had already come through in a big way. 

There was a pattern: God instructed, Elijah obeyed, and a miracle took place. Once God used a dried-up brook and ravens to feed Elijah while he was in hiding. Another time, God empowered Elijah to raise a child from the dead. So, by the time we get to the part of the story where Elijah squares off with Ahab, he has been prepared and is confident that God will come through. 

Sometimes writing these blogs is exciting when I hear God’s voice so clearly, and sometimes it’s a labor of love listening to whispers. But what I appreciate the most is having a written record of how many times God has had a word for you and me. 

Even though it’s been a few weeks since we last hung out, it doesn’t change the story. God loves us and has chosen to use us as His plan of Hope in this world. If we are listening and obedient, just like Elijah, we get to be a part of some amazing things along the way. You and I are God’s Chosen. 

Your adventures strengthen all of us. I would love to hear your story too. You can shoot me an email at, or you can drop it in the comments.

I love being in this with you.

In His Service and at yours!

Published by Shawn McCarthy

While serving as the Weekend Experience Pastor at Seacoast Church, I felt God prompting me to share the moments when He would speak His truth into my life through scripture in a way that made sense to me, giving me tangible ways to learn, grow and lead. These promptings turned into weekly emails that I would send my small groups and volunteer teams. I found myself enjoying the process of digging deeper into God’s Word, being stretched by the writing process, and encouraging others in the faith. My lovely wife, Anna, challenged me to begin this blog, so these moments that I have come to call, my “Red-Letter Moments,” can find a home. My prayer is that you will find hope, comfort, and inspiration here, and above all, you will come to know that the God of the universe loves you and desires a personal relationship with you.”

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