I don’t know about you, but 2016 has been a year of lots of concerns, pain as well as emotional and spiritual growth. We began 2016 with my husband and I saying goodbye to both of our mothers just four weeks apart. Both had lived good lives and loved the Lord so it was bittersweet to say goodbye. There were illnesses, surgical procedures, relationship issues, absences from loved ones and job changes. We also walked alongside some dear friends who were going through cancer, rejection, marriage issues and divorce.
Let’s face it – this world is in a world of hurt. There is pain wherever you look. It might be simply a child’s tantrum once again or a flat tire. It might be as serious as hearing the words “inoperable cancer” or loved one saying, “I don’t love you anymore.”
I have struggled at times to see God’s hand in these trials. I don’t understand the pain a friend has endured as we tried to understand why God is allowing his parents to deal with years of suffering. Or the pain of parents who have had to let a loved one go off on their own and deal with the painful choices their loved one has made. Then there are those who are spending their first Christmas without a loved one. There are those who struggle with depression, anxiety, rejection, abandonment, insecurity and so much more.
Aren’t the holidays supposed to be filled with pictures from Norman Rockwell/Hallmark family and friend memories?
And yet, there is still hope. Hope? Really? Yes. God created each one of us to be aware of His presence, to seek Him and to want to worship and glorify Him. This IS DEFINITELY NOT easy in the midst of pain, but it is EVEN MORE ESSENTIAL at that time. Whether you sing, write, color, read, whatever – you NEED to worship and praise God during your pain. This is so counterintuitive to what we want to do – stay in bed, curl up in a ball, pull up the covers, forget the world, and just wallow in our self-pity.
But if we seek God, even a glimpse of Him at work around us, He usually shows us something to give us hope. Yesterday I saw it in a quick Christmas greeting text from our son, whom we’ve not heard from since deploying overseas in April. God answered this mother’s prayer to know where her son was. Then in my devotions this morning (once again, I am behind) when I opened Sarah Young’s Jesus Always, to December 11 and read these words:
“I am your Rock in whom you can take refuge-any time, any place. COME to Me, beloved; REST in the Peace of My Presence. Take a BREAK from trying to figure everything out. ADMIT that many, many things are beyond your understanding-and your control.” (These were words I needed. I DON’T have or need all the answers – that’s God’s job.)
Isaiah 55:8-9 became special verses to my parents when they were both diagnosed with cancer within a month of each other.
We can’t explain God. Many times, we can’t understand why God allows bad things to happen to good people. When the world is confusing and overwhelming or when it seems evil is taking control of this world, we need to remember God’s conversation with Job recorded in Job 38-42. God challenges Job to remember “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Who kept the sea inside its boundaries? Where does light come from and where does darkness go? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons? Do you know the laws of the universe? Who takes care of all the needs of the animals?” The Lord asks these serious questions in Job 40:2:
“Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”
Job replies to the Lord and says, “I am nothing, how could I ever find the answers?” The Lord challenges him once again by asking if he can control the Leviathan? Job then realizes the depth of his ignorance. I absolutely love Job’s response recorded in Job 42:2-3:
“I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions My wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.
This is where I find myself – I can wallow in my self-pity and question God about all that is happening to and around me OR I can trust that He knows and sees the entire picture, and I need to TRUST HIM for His Wisdom is far greater than mine.
Praying that as you face difficulties and struggles for yourself and your loved ones, that you can COME, REST, and ADMIT that you know nothing about God’s complete and unconditional love for you nor His entire plan for your life. You need to just TRUST in Him.
~ Praying you will grow in your confident trust in God. ~ Faye
God works in amazing ways and He never ceases to amaze me.
Our 7-year-old granddaughter, Claire, asked me the other night how can we hear God talking to us. I tried to explain in a way a second grader would understand, that God speaks to our heart. We don’t necessarily hear God’s voice like people talking to each other, but God uses the Holy Spirit to encourage us in our hearts.
Let me share what happened this past week to show how God has been “talking” to me. Today my husband is going in for his 3rd heart procedure this year, and even though we are trusting in God’s care there are still thoughts of “what if” … Well my devotions this morning started with reading the following:
First I read Sarah Young’s Facebook post:
“Learn to be joyful when things don’t go as you would like. Do not begin your day determined to make everything go your way. Each day you will bump up against at least one thing that doesn’t yield to your will. It could be as trivial as the reflection you see in the mirror or as massive as a loved one’s serious illness or injury. My purpose for you is not to grant your every wish or to make your life easy. My desire is that you learn to trust Me in all circumstances.” —Jesus Always by Sarah Young
I immediately felt God’s presence because of the encouragement I have received from Psalm 62 many times in the past. It was as if He were reminding me, “I’ve got this – Trust me!”
A little later I read from Jesus Always, for October 22 (I’m a few days behind – which God used for my benefit). The very first paragraph said:
“Don’t be afraid to tell Me how weak and weary – even overwhelmed – you feel at times. I am fully aware of the depth and breadth of your difficulties; nothing is hidden from Me. Although I know everything, I wait to hear from you. Pour out your heart to Me, for I am your Refuge. (Again from Psalm 62:8 – God reminding me of His providential care over my concerns.)
Young goes on to say, “Then you rest in the safety of My Presence, trusting that I understand you perfectly and love you with an everlasting Love. Be still, letting My Presence refresh and renew you. Remember that I never leave your side; I am holding you by your right hand.
I knew these words were to continue to encourage me. I’ve been reading Tracie Peterson’s, House of Secrets, which had Isaiah 41:10 & 13 woven through the story –
For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” ~ Isaiah 41:13
In this devotional God was once again reminding me through the words of others and His Word that He is in control of all the details of my life.
The other “funny/amazing” thing is that I’ve had a few people ask me in the past two months when I was going to write for the blog again. I’ve been praying about it, asking God what to write about and God seemed to be leading me to use Psalm 62:8 and Isaiah 41:10,13 but then when I read the last of Young’s devotion for today –
“This gives you courage and confidence to continue your journey. As you go along your path, hear Me saying, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” Ps. 46:10
it seemed like God was saying once again – I’ve Got You in the Palm of My Hand! Don’t Fear – Trust Me! I attributed it to trusting God for His Words to guide me in the blog and what to write (and He has once again.)
I didn’t hear God’s words audibly, but I definitely felt the promptings of the Holy Spirit comforting, guiding, and assuring me that He knows everything we are and have been facing. Once again celebrating the abundant blessings of God – Rich’s procedure went well.
Praying you can “hear” God’s promptings and caring in your lives ~ Faye
Sources: © 2016 Sarah Young, Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence. Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation.