A young hospital patient was facing the most fearful journey of her life. To be told that she had cancer at the mere age of seventeen, shattered her little world!
All of her hopes and dreams were ebbing away from her grasp. She wondered if she would be able to graduate from high school. Would she be able to go on to college, would she ever get married, would she one day get to hold her own child in her arms? All these things, the normal things of growing up, were silently slipping through her hands as she watched her body become something she didn’t even recognize. The chemo treatments took away her golden locks and covered her body with rashes and hives. She was sick all the time. Loneliness and sleeplessness consumed her night-times; while day-times were taken up with pain and agony and yet another doctor waiting to do yet another test. She fought her way through many tests and procedures, multiple surgeries, and treatment plans, only to be told that the cancer was getting worse. The treatments simply were not working for her.
Disappointed and frustrated, she lay on her hospital bed one night, thinking about her life. The questions started to swirl through her mind. What’s the point of living? What value is there to my life? I’m young and I’ve hardly accomplished a thing in life; will I ever get to do anything of value? Will anyone ever love me now? Will I live to see another birthday? Or will my cancer get the best of me? Oh, so many questions!
She laid back on her bed, exhausted. Sleep evaded her once again.
A few moments later, a hospital chaplain entered her room. At first she was tempted to send him away. But then, she said to herself, “I could ask him my questions and just see what he will say.” She invited him to come in and take a seat in the chair. She sat upright in the bed.
It was not long before her questions started tumbling through her mind and out her lips. There! She said those frustratingly annoying questions out loud.
Then she told the chaplain, “My family is overwhelmed with my cancer. They don’t really know what to do to help me. My friends, well, they are out having a good time and I am left behind. My teachers from school send me homework to do, but I cannot concentrate and besides that, what’s the point. And my God – yes, I believe in God – but, I feel like He too is MIA (missing in action). He does not seem to answer my prayers. He probably isn’t even listening to me half the time. I wonder though if He cares at all. I wonder if my life matters to Him. I have this ever growing fear that He is just going to let me die. Chaplain, I am afraid! I am afraid that there is no value to my life anymore. I wonder, what’s the point of living? I just wonder!”
Silence filled that hospital room for quite a few moments. Tears were streaming down the cheeks of this young cancer patient, while the chaplain looked on, deciding what best to say. Silently he prayed for wisdom from the God who tenderly looked upon His beloved child.
“Life is so full of puzzling questions, isn’t it?” the chaplain finally said.
“Ya think!” came the girl’s reply. “I just want to know what the answers are.”
“I’m not sure I have the answers to all those questions you have just asked me. In fact, I know I do not have the answers at all. And I am sorry about that. But, may I read to you something from the Bible, from the One who does have all of life’s answers – do you mind if I read to you?” he asked as he looked at her with loving concern.
“Sure! Read what you want. I don’t care.”
The chaplain took the Bible that he was holding in his hands, and he opened it. Clearing his throat, he began to read. “Jesus said, ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows'” (Matthew 10:29—31).
The girl started to laugh. Oh, it felt good to laugh, but it also hurt. “The hairs of my head are all numbered! Really? Sir, have you seen my head?” She reached up to take her hat off, only to reveal a very bald head. “How many hairs?” she said as another laugh escaped from within her being. Now the chaplain began to laugh with her. Oh, yes, it feels so good to laugh!
As the laughter began to subside between them, the chaplain said to the young girl, “God has numbered every hair that you cannot see! He knows how many hairs you have on that beautiful head of yours. He also knows the value of your life, of every part of your life! You need not wonder what God thinks of you. You need not fear what God has planned for your life. You need not to fear that your life is over without any accomplishments. Cancer survival is one of the toughest accomplishments of any life. God sees your struggle, my dear young lady! Every moment of every day, He sees what you are going through, and He is right there with you. He feels your pain, and understands the agony of this dreadful disease called cancer. The Lord your God knows just how valuable you are to Him. You are of more value to Him than many sparrows.”
“I am?” the young girl’s laughter had now given way to tears. They had silently started to roll down her cheeks as the chaplain spoke to her. He noticed the tears, but didn’t say anything about them. He knew that her tears were healing to her spirit. He was just happy that she listened and heard his words to her. The truth of what the chaplain was saying was touching her heart in a way she never expected.
“I am? I am valuable to God?” the girl asked as she wiped away her own tears.
The chaplain simply nodded at her. He silently prayed as his words began to touch her heart.
“I am!” She laid her head back on the pillow. Pulling the covers up over her shoulders, she said again, “I am!” Allowing that truth to sink in just a little bit further, she closed her eyes, “I am!”
The chaplain sat with her until she had fallen fast asleep. He prayed that the truth she just learned would give her heart peace and her body a good night’s sleep.
I wonder, if anyone reading this post might need to hear that truth today. Your circumstances of life might be different from the girl in this story. Yet, you might just be asking some of the same questions about life. If so, please know, that I would like to pray for you. Please leave me a little comment to let me know.
To all the readers of this post – May this truth bring you peace and rest! Jesus says to you, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows!”
Do you ever find yourself in the midst of circumstances that you do not like? In situations that feel out of control? Carrying a burden that seems too heavy? Rolling around problems in search of solutions?
I might be able to help you with that!
I wrote this little piece some twenty years ago, when I was going through a period of crisis circumstances, sticky situations, back-breaking burdens, and puzzling problems. It all seemed too much. Too hard to handle. Too problematic to even deal with. It helped to write!
Today I came across this piece again, while I was looking through an old Bible of mine. I had tucked it tight within the pages of this sacred book, obviously not wanting to lose it. Uncanny how familiar those Bible verses seem to my mind, those too tucked away, in the memory of my heart. Oh, how appropriate those words are to my life today as they were twenty years ago.
I remember the day I wrote this piece. It was the day that I brought my circumstances, situations, burdens, and problems to Someone who was able to help me. It was the day I gave everything to God. Again! For what seemed like the millionth time. And yet I knew, beyond all shadow of doubt, that He was the only One who can help with all the impossible things of life.
Allow me to share with you what I wrote. This piece was my prayer, my plea for God to help me. My prayer now, is that this piece will help, encourage and inspire all who might read it. When you come to a _________ , feel free to insert your own circumstance, situation, burden, or problem there. And when you come to the end, if you agree with what I wrote, if the Bible verses were a help to you, if you found yourself a little closer to God – then, please shout out a loud, hearty “Amen!” For in that moment, you will know that God heard the prayer of your heart as well.
“I am here in the midst of circumstances that I don’t like! Circumstances that I find very difficult and somewhat overwhelming. I know that I am not alone for You are here with me, never to leave me nor forsake me! I recognize that You are the only one who can help me with this particular set of circumstances. I need Your help, God! I need You now more than ever.
“In the midst of my battle with _____________, may I always remember that:
“I am here by God’s appointment! This set of circumstances is all part of God’s plan for my life!
“Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
“Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
“I am here in God’s safe-keeping! I am surrounded by God’s most perfect love! (so no more pity parties!).
“Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
“Jeremiah 31:3 “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving kindness.'”
“I am here under God’s training! Good will come out of these circumstances if I just hang on!
“Job 23:10 “…when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
“James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”
“I am here for God’s time! And that timing is always perfect!
“Psalm 31:14—15 “But I trust in you O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands…”
“1 Peter 1:6—7 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
“God, please help me to embrace my circumstances of _____________ as a gift from You. Help me to know that You will meet me at my point of need with all the TLC (tender loving care) that I will need. Grant to me the assurance that You will still use me in spite of _______________ , that my life will still have some value to it. Grant me the opportunity to see You at work not only in my life, but through it as well. Oh, God, please embrace me to Yourself. Never let me go. Hold me tight when I cannot hang on. Assure me that together we will be victors over ______________ .
“Today God, I am letting go of my style of pity party in the midst of _______________. Help me God, from this day forward to celebrate Your way with all the style and grace that I can muster.
“I am here God! And I feel Your presence right beside me!”
We all shed them from time to time. Seems like lately I’ve been shedding more than my fair share of them. Morning. Noon. Night. And every time in between. The tears just flow.
I stand at the graveside of my dear mom, whom I lost just a few months ago, and there the tears overtake my soul. I miss my mom! I stand at the grocery store getting ready to buy watermelon popsicles and I burst into tears as I remember that they were the last thing that my mom was able to eat. I stand in worship of my God and begin to sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and I cannot finish, for this was my mom’s favorite song. I stand in the shower allowing my tears to mix with the water upon my skin as my body convulses with heart wrenching sobs. I don’t like grief! The tears just flow.
About a month after her passing, I was sorting out some cards and letters in my desk and found a birthday card that my mom sent to me. Seeing her handwriting made me cry. Realizing that I would never get another birthday card from her again made me cry. Reading a letter from her, written at the time I was a missionary teacher in Scotland, brought yet even more tears to my eyes. Baking cookies reminds me of mom. Working in my garden reminds me of mom. Seeing a needlepoint picture she made for me hanging on the wall brings back memories mixed with tears. Fixing a cup of tea and wishing I could share another “cuppa” with my mom brings on the tears as I remember many a conversation together over a cup of tea. I miss those chats. Little things. Memories. Pictures. More memories. Favorite sayings, bible verses, songs, movies, and more. More memories. The tears just flow.
I have not been able to write my blog for several months now. Oh, I have plenty that I would like to say. But the words are hard to find. The thoughts flee from my brain too quickly. The grief overtakes my heart. The tears just flow.
Yet, through the grief, heartache and tears, I know I am being comforted by the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). I know that He sees my tears! I also know that He understands my tears! I know that my tears matter to Him!
He sees my tears! Each and every one. I love the fact that I do not have to hide my tears from Him. God knows my heart, my grief, my great loss and He longs to comfort me. He is comforting me! In ways I never thought possible, God is my God of comfort. When the tears begin to flow, I feel His presence. I know He is there. No words are needed. The tears just flow. And that is enough. For God sees my tears!
He understands my tears! My God of all comfort knows that this heart is broken. He knows I’m grieving. He sees the same memories that I do, and He understands what my heart is feeling in that moment. He knows what triggers the tears to flow. He knows what crazy yet simple things will set me off in a shower of tears. He totally understands those crazy yet simple things. And the best part is this: He understands, better than anyone else, what will bring me comfort. He meets me at my point of need and gives me exactly what I need in that moment. He will even eat chocolate ice cream with me (the best ever comfort food!). He understands my tears!
My tears matter to Him! Not one tear will fall without His notice. Not one tear will be shed without His concern. Tears matter to my God of all comfort. My tears matter. No matter how often they are shed, or how intensely they fall, my tears matter.
The Psalmist David wrote about tears: “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8 NKJV). I don’t know about you, but I need to picture that.
The God of all comfort, loves and cares about me enough in my time of grief that He sees every tear that I shed and He collects them in a bottle. Every teardrop is a reminder of His love and care. My tears are precious to my God of all comfort! Why?
Oh, I have been asking that question a lot lately. Perhaps I just have a hard time believing that God would care that much about little old me. At times, when I am crying, I feel unworthy of His comfort. Perhaps I can not wrap my head around that truth because I was always taught “be strong, don’t cry!” That’s just bad advice. That kind of advice should never be given to someone who has a need to cry. Never! There are times when we need to cry. There are times when we want to cry. There are times that other people in our lives just need to let us cry. God does! He knows our need to cry. He knows our desire to cry, and He especially loves it when we cry out to Him. He allows us time to cry. Each and every tear we shed is important to Him, that’s why He lets us cry. Each and every tear is a tremendous reminder that there is a God who loves us and is waiting to comfort us in our time of crying. We need to cry!
Maybe God collects our tears in a bottle because what matter to us matters to Him! It matters to God that my mom died. She was His child too and He loved her just as much as He loves me. He loves my family even more than my mom did and He loves to comfort us all in our sorrow and tears.
My broken, grieving heart matters to Him. He does not love that some experience had to break my heart. But He loves what happens in my heart when it is broken. My heart is open, moldable, empty and desperate for Him. When I give God my broken heart, my poured out tears, and my soul’s grief, He fills that heart with more of Himself. He collects my tears. He mends my broken heart. He pours on His comfort. He transforms my grief. He turns my heartache into hope. He restores my soul.
My tears matter to my God of all comfort!
I am so blessed by that truth. Blessed to have a God who loves and cares for me that much. Blessed to be able to shed my tears unashamedly in His presence. Blessed by His comfort.
The tears just flow!
Each one collected in a bottle by the God of all comfort!
What motivates you to pray? What is your motive for starting a prayer life? What motivates you to have a conversation from time to time with your God?
Now, there’s some questions to ponder upon throughout your day today! Here’s how a couple of my friends replied to those questions:
“A prayer life for me was a process of going through the motions. I was a Christian, went to church every week. I did what was expected of me. But then I stopped praying.”
“As the years have drifted by, for me it was all about the mechanics of prayer and Bible study and going to church. My motivations were all wrong, of course. But if I’m completely honest, I have to admit that very little seemed to sink in. I was in full blown “spoon-fed” mode. I was much too caught up in playing the part of a Christian to be concerned with the depth of my spiritual life. Occasionally a crisis would pop up on the horizon, and I would pray as hard as I could. God wasn’t fooled by my emergency mode prayers. I could almost imagine Him saying, “How come you never talk to Me unless you’re in some kind of trouble?” A valid point, considering I’d basically ignored Him Monday through Saturday. Okay, most of Sunday too.”
“I became motivated to pray when I lost my job and my family nearly lost our home. I felt I was forced to pray to God for help. I at least understood that God could help me.”
“Motivation in prayer came to me when I was at camp. The speaker was pretty forceful about “developing a prayer life with God.” So, I guess more out of fear, I started praying that week of camp. By the end of the week, I started enjoying my chats with God and wanted to keep having them every day. I did okay for awhile but then started slacking off again.”
“My motivation comes from my relationship with Him. He loves me and I know that so well. But I want to love Him too. And I just figure that we have to talk, to share, to spend time together if that love relationship between me and God will ever grow.”
What is your motivation to pray?
I think, as Christians, each of our answers, could be as alike or as different from the next person. I think, while we each might have a relationship with God, each relationship is different and in a different place from the next person. In other words, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to those questions. Yet, I do believe that they are good questions to think about.
I have to tell you that a teenage student of mine asked me that question – what is your motivation to pray? – a few months ago. And yes, I needed some time to reflect and consider my honest answer to that question. I actually made a list of various answers I could give my student. All of which were true, at various points of my life, and within different circumstances that I was going through at the time. Here’s some of what was on my list:
a need for God’s help
a friend that asked me to pray for them
an emergency situation
a big decision that I need to make and didn’t know what to do
a challenge from the pastor at church to pray more
a specific prayer request
a heavy financial need
and so many more self motivation points!
But do you know, at the end of my thinking about it, I simply had to change the question. Yes, you read that correctly. I wanted to change my student’s question. I needed to change it for my own thinking. But I also wanted to challenge my student to think deeper into their own question. Perhaps we all should change that question.
So, consider this – – God, what do YOU want my motivation to be in prayer?
I began to ask God that question. And I waited for His answer. It came just a few days later, in my bible reading of the day. From Psalms 63 and the very first verse. One verse, that was all I read that day. That one verse gripped my heart like none other had for quite a while. One verse, stuck in my memory for over a week, as God ministered the meaning of that one verse to my needy heart and soul. One verse answered my question and changed my viewpoint as to what motivates me to pray. Here is that one verse:
“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You. . . So I have looked for You. . . “
God should be my motivation to pray!
A desire to grow my relationship with my God should be the only motivation I need to pray! For “You are my God!”
My thirsty soul should be my motivation to pray!
The longing of my heart, body and flesh should be my motivation to pray!
God should be all the motivation I need to pray – to talk to – to converse with – to communion with – to bond with – to unite with – to dwell with – – God should be all the motivation I need!
So, I will look for Him! I will seek after Him! I will begin a conversation with Him!
Through the avenue of prayer, I will be motivated to grow my personal relationship with Him!
O God, You are my God! I love praying to You!
“Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:28-31 (NJKV).
I am pretty certain that everyone who stops by and reads my blog page is quite familiar with “the storms of life.” Cloudy skies, gusting winds, stormy waters, and pouring rain are all signs of STORM within the atmosphere. Yet these same signs can be present in our daily lives as we experience storms in our homes, our relationships, our work places, our communities, and in our own bodies. Storms can build up and roll in gradually, or come about quickly, almost unexpected. Storms howl and hinder and create the worst kind of havoc. Storms can be utterly devastating, leaving a path of destruction in its wake that is hard to recover from. No one likes to go through a period of storms in their life. Yet, each one of us, at one point of time or another, will experience the storms of life.
The question is, what do we do in the midst of those storms? How do you cope with them? Is it possible to survive the worst of the storms, and come out of it in one piece? What can we do to help weather the storms of life when they hit us? I’d like to share ten things that we need to know about the storms of life. Ten things that just might help us survive and come out of the storm only to find rest in a safe, calm haven.
Storms of life happen! To all of us. When the storms of life come, know that you are never alone in the midst of them. God will be ever present with you in the storm. He keeps His promise to “never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Never be afraid to call out to God during your next storm. He will be listening for your cry. And He will answer you. In Him and His Word, through His grace, you will find an anchor for your soul, that will carry you safely through the storm. But remember, the cry must come before the calm! Trust your next storm of life to the One who hears your cry and to the One who brings the calm after the storm. He will carry you through the storm to a place of calm and safe haven!
“Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O Israel, if you will listen to Me! There shall be no foreign god among you; nor shall you worship any foreign god. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels. Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!” Psalms 81:9-13 (NKJV)
They captured my attention!
“If you will listen to Me!”
Okay, God! Six words from the sacred pages of God’s Word, the Bible, captured my attention, calling me to listen. What should I do? What would YOU do?
Let’s face it, listening, really listening, is quickly becoming a lost art for many of us. What? Not for you? Well, consider this.
We are all very busy people. I get that truth. Sadly though, sometimes we are too busy to really listen the way that we should. After all, there are places to go, people to see, things to do, projects to complete, decisions to make, and etc. I’m just too busy to list all the different things that we are busy doing. BUT, the reality is, there are always some things that we need to listen to.
Just the other day, I was sitting out in the garden, chatting on my cellphone with a friend. We were both sharing about our busyness. Both of us, equally busy in our own way, with lots of various circumstances happening in our lives. I love, though, what my friend did in the middle of that conversation. All of the sudden, she bursts out with a loud voice and says, “Stop! We have to stop this! Do you realize what we sound like?” At first, feeling a little taken aback, I wasn’t sure what to do. But I smiled, though, for I realized what she was saying. “Stop for a minute, Kathy, and just listen to what is happening around you.” The pause, the silence between us, was rather refreshing! Just to take a precious moment and stop everything else, just to listen. What a novel idea! She broke the silence first and described the sounds she heard, in the coffee shop, where she was sitting. Then it was my turn. Sounds of the back yard garden. Wind whistling through the big pine tree. Birds chirping over on the gate. Water dripping from off the rooftop. Our dog digging in a corner grunting and growling to himself as he worked. For a moment, I thought I could hear the daffodil grow a little taller. Ah, the art of listening! It had been a while since I literally just sat and listened. It was comforting. It was refreshing. It did my heart good.
And that, that precious moment of refreshing quiet and restful sounds is just what the Lord God wants to give to His people. If only we would slow down, and take the time to listen. “If you will listen to Me!” He gently whispers. Will we listen to His voice?
It reminds me of the Bible story of Mary and Martha, and their visit from Jesus (Luke 10:38-42). We have in this story such a great contrast between the two sisters. Martha, was the busy one, getting everything ready for Jesus’ visit. And when He arrived, she was still busy making sure everything was just right. And she was fussing in that busyness. “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me,” Martha says to Jesus. Can anyone relate to that kind of busyness? I love Jesus’ reply to her. He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.” Yet, I think Jesus was more concerned about her listening skills than He was about her busyness.
And then, there was Mary. Jesus said of her, “Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.” So, what was Mary doing that was better than Martha’s busyness?
“Mary… sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” Mary chose to put the busyness aside. To her, it didn’t matter. What was more important to Mary, was listening. She sat, at Jesus’ feet, and she listened to His every word.
In that very moment of Jesus’ presence in their home, nothing else mattered to Mary. She stopped everything else. She gave Him her undivided attention. She sat, in reverent awe, at His feet. She cherished each and every word He spoke. She listened. She loved what she was hearing. For Mary loved Jesus. She wanted to be in His presence. She wanted to listen!
“But one thing is needed…” Mary chose it. I want to choose it too.
Lord God, I want to be like Mary. I want to learn to stop the busyness more often. I want to learn to sit more at Your feet, in awe and in worship. I want to learn to listen better. To listen more and talk less when I am in Your presence. I want more of You. I want to give You my listening ear. I want to hear Your every word. I want to hear Your whispers in my ear. I want to cherish Your words more. I want more of You, Jesus! I’m listening now!
Life is just tough at times!
It can be filled with tough circumstances to cross, tough battles to beat, tough problems to pan out, tough choices to choose, tough people to persuade, tough struggles to solve, tough finances to find, and tough work to work through. Let’s face it, life is tough! It’s not for the light-hearted that’s for sure. So, what kind of toughness is life asking you to deal with at this moment of time?
Lately, I have been asked to walk through at least a dozen different tough things, all at one time. I could probably think of a few more than a dozen, if I really put my mind to thinking. One thing I have learned through my life, though, when going through the tough stuff of life, I don’t have to do it alone. Others are usually around to help me. Be it family, friends, co-workers, neighbors or even a stranger – usually someone is there to help me. But the One who helps me the most of all, is my God! God is always with me, through the good times and the bad times. He is especially present during the tough stuff. He promises to “never leave nor forsake” me, and thus far, in my life, He has totally kept that promise. So I know God will always be there to help me in and through the tough times of my life.
Just the other day, as I was curled up on the sofa, with a cup of tea in my hands, I was thinking about some of those tough times of late. I had a really big decision to make. I had a financial deadline to meet. I had some people that I wanted to help but didn’t know how I could possibly help them. I had a burden laying heavy on my heart that I turned into a prayer request from my lips to God’s listening ears. I had a lot of things to take care of that day, plenty of errands to run, places to go and people to see, so I knew I needed lots of energy for the day if I had any hope at all of accomplishing everything on my “to do” list. But first, I just needed some alone time with my God. I picked up my Bible and nestled into the cushions on the sofa for a good read. My reading that morning took me to Psalms 138. Here’s a portion of what I read.
“I will praise You with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing praises to You. I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name. For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. In the day I cried out, You answered me and made me bold with strength in my soul. . . Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever. . . ” Psalms 138:1-8 (NKJV)
I got so excited as I read God’s word. It seemed like the words on the page were just jumping right out at me, hoping that I would take notice of them. Notice them, I did. Those words were just what I needed to read on this particular morning. For a few moments, I was able to put some tough stuff aside, and think about what I had just read. In fact, I read it again. And again. I came away with seven tidbits of encouragement from my God that morning. You see, God was showing me exactly what He wanted to do for me that day, as together we would deal with my tough stuff of life.
God showing me those seven tidbits, started with me crying out to God. Like the Psalmist, “when I cried out, You answered me.” God heard my cries for help in dealing with all the tough things in my life at the time. And in hearing me, He was ready to help me. So, here’s the seven tidbits of help from my God – taken from my Bible reading as I sat curled up on the sofa on this particular morning.
I look over those 7 tidbits of help and I am encouraged! Greatly encouraged! Because I realize, that my God has got me covered. He will be with me; He stands ready to help me in and through whatever tough time I face in any given day.
When the Psalmist David realized that same truth, do you know what He did?
The Psalmist David began to praise His God. David praised with his whole heart, before others, and towards God’s holy temple; David praised His God. He praised His name, His lovingkindness, His truth and His Word. David praised His God.
And in that moment of truth, as God’s lesson that morning worked its way from my head down to my heart, I too wanted to praise my God. I praised His name, His lovingkindness, His truth and His Word. But I also praised Him for answering my prayer and reminding me once again, that He, my powerful, almighty God would carry me through another tough day. Together, we would do the tough stuff. And at the end of the day, I would be able to praise Him all over again. I “shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord.”
Happy New Year to all my blog readers!
Can you believe it’s 2021!
Some people were excited to see the old year leave us. Some are already not too excited about the new year. Let’s face it, there is a lot going on in life of today. There seems to be a lot of chaos. Chaos in our world, in our country, in our land, in our government, in our health care system, in our churches, in our workplaces, in our schools, in our communities, and in our homes. Chaos abounds! Does anyone else feel it? Or, am I the only one in a lonely, little chaos bubble?
Let’s face it, none of us know for sure what this new year of 2021 holds in store!
One thing is for sure – there is a lot of emotion, unrest, uncertainty, fear, trepidation, and discontent within the hearts of mankind all across our world. Not one thing, nor one person is to blame. It is what it is! Sadly, it is where we find ourselves. Together, we are facing a very uncertain year ahead!
B U T –
There is one being who knows. One Being who knows what is ahead for all of us in this year 2021. He knows! He knows what will happen in every inch of the world. He knows what will take place in each country, each land, each government hall, each healthcare system, each church, each workplace, each school, each community, each home, each family, each individual and in each and every heart! He knows!
Who is He?
He is GOD! The One and Only True God. The One who created us all. The One who sees it all. He is the One who knows exactly what will happen in this new year of 2021!
I, for one, am delighted that He knows! I know, for certain, that I could not do this thing called life on earth, without the God of heaven knowing all things about me and the world I am currently living in. I’m glad He knows!
Not only does He know! But the Lord my God has promised to walk with me through this year 2021! He is walking with me now! Right now! Right here! He is in my presence! And I am in His presence! Walking together! And step by step, He is showing me the way!
“And, how do you know that?” you might just say to me.
I know, because of two very special promises that God has written in His Word, the Bible. I have read them. I believe them; I believe that every word God has spoken is true. When God speaks forth His Word, it is truth being spoken. When God makes a promise, His promise will be kept. That’s how I know. So let me share those promises with you:
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” Psalms 37:23-24 (NKJV)
“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures evermore.” Psalms 16:11 (NKJV)
Every one of us has a choice in this new year. We can choose to walk with God, in His chosen pathway for us, or we can choose our own pathway and walk without God. I know what my choice is!!
Pathways, designed by man, that lead us into 2021 are unknown, uncertain and unprecedented at best. Some pathways will be clear and smooth and easy going (I would like more of those). Yet some pathways will be dark, lonely, covered by shadows and perhaps a little scary to walk upon. Yet other pathways will be very steep, very rocky, and very scary to maneuver. We know our pathways in the year ahead, will be very uncertain. Do we really want to walk them alone? Without God as our guide?
Personally, I want God as my guide. I need Him to be my guide! I want and need His companionship on the journey through life. I desire His precise tools that will help guide and direct my every step. I cherish His wisdom in what pathway to take. I long to hear His voice speaking to me as we journey the pathway together. I trust Him to help me when I fall, fully knowing that He will pick me up and set me on the right path again. I covet His presence to shine a light on the pathway so I can see where my next step is to be. Truth of the matter is, I just NEED HIM to be my guide!
Step by step, hand in hand, and heart to heart – together, God and I are going to walk through 2021 and beyond. And ultimately, I know He will guide me HOME!
So, what’s your choice for 2021??
“O Lord my God, I cried out to You and You healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down into the pit. . . I cried out to You, O Lord; and to the Lord I made supplication. . . Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper!” Psalms 30:2-3, 8 and 10 (NKJV)
We have all been in the midst of difficult situations, or involved in circumstances that are out of our control. Be it, health issues, family issues, relationship issues, marital issues, job issues, financial issues, church issues – whatever it is that has blindsided us, we are not alone. We often feel frustrated, overwhelmed, out of control, lonely, scared and uncertain of how it will all work out. We cry, we shout, we scream, we talk, and we pray. But when we pray, so often, in the midst of the tough time, we may not always know what to say. Can anyone relate to all that?
Well, in that moment, of not knowing what to say might I suggest saying just one word. That’s all. One word. “Jesus!” When you say “Jesus!” – you have His listening ear. You really don’t need to say another word. “Jesus!” is enough! He already knows every detail of what is going on in your life at that very moment you cried out to Him. He knows what your heart is feeling and He understands every emotion you are experiencing.
“Jesus!” – just one word. It opens the door to His coming to you, ready to help and comfort you. It opens the door for His power, wisdom, love, comfort and everything else that you need in that moment to be yours. It opens the door for God’s Son, Jesus to do a mighty work. both in your personal life and in your circumstances. Jesus can heal your heart’s wound. Jesus can intervene and help bring resolution. Jesus can provide everything that you have need of. Jesus can bring peace, calm, comfort, grace and love into whatever circumstances you are in. Try it. Just call out His name – that wonderful name – “Jesus!”
The Psalmist, he cried out to the Lord, His God. He needed God’s help so that He would not go deeper into the pit. He needed deliverance from his enemies. We don’t need to know all the details of his situation. No one needs to know yours. But, there is one who is waiting for you to cry out. Just say, one word. “Jesus!”
Jesus/God met the Psalmist right at his point of need. His cries were heard. Help was given. And in the end, the Psalmist could praise the Lord his God. Just read what the Psalmist had to say:
“I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me. . . You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” Psalms 30: 1, 11-12.
It starts with one word. “Jesus!”
“Deliver me from my enemies, O God; protect me from those who rise up against me. . . They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. See what they spew from their mouths – they spew out swords from their lips. . . For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride, for curses and lies they utter. . . They return at evening, snarling like dogs. . . ” Psalm 59:1, 6-7, 12, 14. (NIV)
Hmm, “snarling like dogs” – Who snarls more? Man or Beast?
I learned a really great lesson about snarling once from our dog, Max.
While Max can be the most good-tempered, lovable, playful and delightful dog ever – there just happens to be the snarly side of Max that we see every once in a while. Believe me when I say, it’s not pretty and he knows it.
“Hey, Max, wanna go for a walk?” – is usually something he loves to hear coming from the lips of his momma. He gets SO excited over the mention of a W_ _ _! In fact, I have to be careful not to say the whole word, (ever!) or else, I am taking him for a walk whether I really wanted to or not. His eyes light up like glistening diamonds. The tail goes into spasms of sheer delight. And he bounces everywhere, longing for his momma to get his harness and leash and get this walk started.
Except for this one day in particular. I asked the magical question. And yes, I truly wanted to go with him for a walk. BUT….
His reaction was not the one I had expected. He snarled at me! He growled! He raised his voice in anger! And then, I noticed his tail wasn’t wagging. Nope, it is sticking straight out stiff. There was no delightful glistening to his eyes. Nope, what I saw instead was rage. “Whoa, Max! What’s going on here? I simply asked if you wanted to go for a walk.”
For the first time ever, when I said, W A L K !, I was met with snarl! Are you kidding me, dog? The growl got louder, coming from somewhere deep within this 12 lb. fur ball. Max was angry and I had no idea why. I stepped away from the dog! Who knew what might come next. Not even a “down, boy!” would stop him. “Okay, Max, snarl all you want to boy, this momma is going walking without you.” S N A R L !!
As I walked out the door, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “If only dogs could talk! I would love to know what Max was thinking just then. For sure!!” What did that snarl mean? Where did that kind of response come from?
I set out for my afternoon walk, thinking about snarling attitudes. I was also hoping that while on this walk, I would not encounter any other snarling dogs. One was enough for me, thank you very much!
Be it beast. Be it human. We all can snarl. Growl with a vicious attitude over something we don’t like. Speak in a snarling manner because someone said something that we disagree with. While walking, I realized that I – yes, me, the human being! – can actually be a snarling dog! My guess is that you can too. Don’t we all snarl at times?
Here in this Psalm, the Psalmist is talking to God about his enemies. He is asking for protection and deliverance from those who are like “snarling dogs” – and he asks God to “deliver me from evildoers and save me from blood-thirsty men.” The Psalmist compares his enemies to “snarling dogs” – for out of them comes a snarly attitude, spewing out unwanted spit, vicious sounds, and growling grossness. It made no sense to the Psalmist. That’s what I got from Max on this day I simply wanted him to go for a W A L K. He gave me the perfect snarly attitude! And this momma didn’t like it!
As I kept walking, I got to thinking about times that I gave someone a snarly attitude. I have to say, it’s not all that often, but on a rare occasion, its been there. I’ve done that! I’ve given someone a snarly attitude over something said or done. Snarly words can spit out of my mouth so fast in an unwanted, undeserved manner. My voice can raise in vicious sounds to where I hardly recognize my own voice. And before I realize it, I am growling in the grossness of unkind, cruel words. I pity the person who has to be on the receiving end of all that. Talk about unfair! Talk about RUDE! Now, I know I am not the only human who has ever been there and done that. But, when I do that, I am not happy. I know it is wrong, but “I just couldn’t help it!” (That’s a whole different story for another blog!) God calls that kind of attitude, SIN! God is never happy when we give someone a snarly attitude or reply. God especially doesn’t like it if we dare to give HIM that kind of response. Nope, God is not happy with snarl – not ever! Clearly Max was not happy either that day. If only he could talk, I might know and understand what his problem was. But given the snarling attitude coming from my dog, I did NOT WANT him to talk. Not ever! I didn’t need to know.
I kept walking, having my own conversation with God about my own snarling attitude. I am so glad that I have such a loving and forgiving God. He is always ready to hear me talk with Him, especially when it’s to confess my wrong-doing. I felt better once I confessed to Him all the different “snarling dog” attitudes that came to my mind. I confessed every one. My step lightened. I could now enjoy the rest of the walk. Joy returned to my mind, my heart and my soul. God and I had a great walk. Too bad Max wasn’t there too.
Oh, speaking of Max – let’s go see if my pupper-dog has changed his mood any. I walked back home, unsure of what I would find. But hopeful nonetheless. Gingerly, V E R Y gingerly, I opened the door, just in case the “snarling dog” was still prowling about. I quietly stepped inside, hoping not to disturb any remnant of a snarly attitude. I turned to shut the door behind me.
Who should bound around the corner??
MAX! The tail was wagging, the eyes were a glistening and he was bouncing everywhere.
Come on, Max, let’s go for W A L K!
P.S. “No Snarling Allowed!”