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Always There

But now the Lord who created you, O Israel, says, Don't be afraid, for I have ransomed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up - the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, your savior, the Holy One of Israel. I gave Egypt and Ethiopia and Seba [to Cyrus] in exchange for your freedom, as your ransom. Others dies that you might live; I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me and honored, and I love you.

Don't be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you from east and west, from north and south. I will bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the farthest corners of the earth. All who claim me as their God will come; for I have made them for my glory; I created them. Isiah 43:1-7 (TLB)

Carols D. Ortiz lives in Puerto Rico. one of his aunts routinely mailed copies of El Aposento Alto - the Spanish language edition of The Upper Room - to her nieces, nephews, and friends. Through the daily devotional, Carlos learned about Jesus and loving God. He kept every copy she sent.

At age 15, Carlos declared his independence from his parents because they did not believe in him. He stopped studying the arts so he could pursue a career where he could support himself. Around this time, he also started attending church. But eventually, while trying to achieve his goals, he left the church and began to live a life of excess.

After seven years, Carols completed his doctorate, but he still wasn't happy. He began to experience an existential crisis, so once again he read his old copies of El Aposento Alto. The stories were as relevant as when they were first published. During this time, Carlos realized that God has always been there for him.

Carlos has since returned to his faith community, and his joy is complete. God dwells in his heart and guides his life and faith. He remains grateful that despite his failings, God stood by him. God's love was manifested through his family, his church, and the stories in the daily devotional.

Prayer: Almighty God, thank you for remaining faithful to us even when we turn from you. Fill us with your wisdom, and give us the courage to trust in your saving grace, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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