God’s Words of Comfort in Times of Fear – January 3, 2016

I wrote a little bit the other day about the news of my pregnancy that we found out right before New Year’s Eve, and about living by faith in this New Year.  I write this as much for me as for my readers, and hope that these words can offer encouragement to the both of us.

I’ve had a lot of fear and anxiety the past few days, as I await speaking with my doctor’s office tomorrow to schedule my first prenatal appointment, as well as some scary symptoms that I have experienced off and on that have at times made me wonder if everything is okay.  Baby seems fine for now, but I’ve been doing a lot of praying and trying to keep God’s Word in my mind as I hope for the best, but try  to mentally prepare for the “what if” of something going wrong.  Because of the miscarriage that we suffered last August, it’s an intensely joyful yet angst-filled pregnancy this time around.

I’m studying some Bible verses on fear, and I’m finding comfort in knowing and remembering that no matter what, His strength is there, and that I am not walking alone.  Let’s take a look at some of the ones I’ve found so far:

Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (NKJV).” – This one is a great encouragement because again, it lets me know that I’m not walking through the valley alone.  Our Shepherd watches over us with great care and leads us down the right path.

Psalm 115:11 “You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield.” – Because of who God is, I can trust Him in the outcome.  He is my help and my shield.

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – Here Jesus is talking to the disciples to let them know that it’s getting close to time for Him to be crucified and resurrected.  He is letting them know that though He is going away shortly to prepare a place for His people in Heaven, He is leaving with them His peace.  This encourages me today because I know that I can call on Him and receive His peace also.

Psalm 56:3 “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” -This verse reminds me again of the word trust.  I can trust that God is good and that He knows best.

Psalm 112 begins with the verse, “Praise the Lord!  Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments.”  Then it goes on to say in verse 7, “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” – This tells me that I don’t have to be afraid of bad news because I can still trust that the Lord is good.

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness.  He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – This shows the loving character of God, our Heavenly Father, and reminds me of His tender mercy, and also of the way in which He has already saved me through the cross.

Are all of these verses easier said than done?  Absolutely, as least for me they are.  But it’s a great comfort to know that through His Word, He has given us many reassurances that He is there, shepherding His flock and walking us through whatever life may throw at us.

Yes, I am going to keep on praying for my child, and having faith that everything will be all right, but I will commit to trust in Him no matter what because I can trust that He is good.  I will no doubt have more times of anxiety the further along I get, but I can have faith in a God who sees me, knows me, loves me and cares about the things and the people in my life.  After all, if my precious child means so much to my husband and I, how much more does he/she mean to the Creator?

I hope this has perhaps brought a little encouragement to you today, as writing this down did for me.  We serve a mighty God who loved us so much His own Son came down to endure the agony of the cross so that He could bring His children home.  And He’ll walk with you and me every step of the way along this rough and bumpy road called life.

“Heavenly Father, I thank You that You are always there, in good times and in bad.  Please forgive me when I fail to trust You.  Help me to have faith that You are good even in difficult circumstances.  Be with this pregnancy, Lord, for You know what’s best.  I pray that if it is possible, our baby would be born healthy with no complications.  Please draw me closer to You during this time, and for anyone reading this, please draw them closer to You also.  Ease our fears, Lord, and reassure us through Y0ur Word and Your Holy Spirit that You are here right beside us, going before us, in whatever we are walking through.  I pray that this situation in my life will glorify You, Father, and I thank You for Your overwhelming love and grace that You’ve already given me time and time again.  Help us to be filled with Your perfect love that casts out fear, Father.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Slow Down, You Crazy Child – November 25, 2015

Ok, I know.  The title for this post is actually part of the chorus from the song, “Vienna” by Billy Joel, but I thought it was apropos for what I was thinking about today.

We all know tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and the official holiday season is upon us.  I emphasize that because we don’t just have Thanksgiving or Christmas Day.  We have the 45 shopping days left till Christmas, or whenever you start counting, and Thanksgiving eve (still time to buy those turkeys and anything else you might have forgotten on your last trip to the grocery store!) and then Black Friday, which now lasts from part of the evening Thursday to sometime Friday afternoon or evening in some places.

So, in the frenzy of all of this activity, I thought about the story of Mary of Bethany and her sister Martha in Luke 10:38-42 (not to be confused with Mary the mother of Jesus, or Mary Magdalene, who are also Biblical characters.  Apparently, just about everyone named their girl children Mary back then).

It says, “Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.’

And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'(NKJV)”

So, I ask myself, “Am I a Martha or Mary?”

Well, I do have some days where I say who cares if the kids pick up their socks out of the floor, and we can worry about the bills, the trash, the dishes and dinner tomorrow.  I just want to read the new Joyce Meyer book and eat chocolate.  Does that count as being a Mary?  And maybe sometimes, I’m half-Mary and half-Martha, where I’m making mental lists of things I must do before the shopping days are over, but the Mary part of me wants to sit down and eat a bag of chips and say, “C’est la vie.”

But a lot of the time I think I lean solely toward being a Martha.  “Lord, do You not care that my kids don’t know where the trash can is, or that these dogs have left pee on my carpet and no one knows who forgot to let them outside?  Do You not know that my house is a wreck because I have three children, two of them teenagers?!  And that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and we have to find someone to babysit the dogs??”

At those times, He reminds me through His Word that He does care.  And He gives us His strength when we’re tired to help us get through these hectic times.  But the enemy would have me believe that He has left me all alone to deal with the hectic pace of this life and all of its responsibilities.  And that’s simply not true.  It’s just that God doesn’t get all bent out of shape about the condition of my kitchen, or about whether the presents are perfectly wrapped, etc. like I do.  He sees from an eternal perspective, and knows that I won’t remember what our kitchen looked like 20 years from now, most likely, but I’ll remember how blessed I was to see the smiles on my kids’ faces as we share what we’re grateful for this year and celebrate together as a family.

It’s not that He doesn’t care about our concerns over the adult responsibilities that we all have though.  In fact, He’s called us to be good stewards of quite a lot- and that’s why His help and His strength are always available for the asking.  He knows he is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV).

He’s telling us in the passage above to choose “the good part,” which is taking time to sit at His feet and learn from Him.  He’s telling me that to be a Mary, I need to turn off the tv, unplug from the Internet, take off the superior sound-system headphones and forget about the messy house for a minute and just spend some time with Him.

When Jesus tells Martha that “one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part,” I believe He is telling us we need Him most of all, and that if we put Him first, we won’t be as “worried and troubled about many things.”  We’ll be able to relax, knowing that He’s right there with us, in whatever we have to do today.

“Lord, today I ask that You help me to be more like a Mary, and just make it a point to spend time with You, rather than worrying and getting all nervous about this or that.  Help me to be still and know that You are God.  Show me what You would have me to learn today, and what You would have me to do.  Help us as Christians to look for ways in which we can help others as well, that we may shine Your light into the dark places in the world.  I pray that we may be deeply aware of Your love this holiday season and that we will be reminded that we have a great Lord, who is our Redeemer and Provider.  Thank You Lord, for who You are.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

God’s Strength When You’re Tired – November 24, 2015

Some days, it seems, I just wake up tired and dragging.  This morning was one of those times.  I stayed up late last night reading and surfing the net, not exactly the best thing to do when my busy mind is already in gear from a full day.  Nevertheless, I did, and was definitely feeling the effects this morning, when the alarm went off (way too early it seemed!) and it was time to get the kids up for school.

I saw a cartoon once that showed Jesus talking to a man and showing him the footprints in the sand.  It said, “You see these footprints over here?  That was when I carried you.  But, you see this long groove in the sand over there?  That was when I dragged you for a little while.”

That always makes me chuckle, because how true it is.  Some days, I feel like the Lord has to drag me around because I just don’t have the strength it seems to get everything done that I need to do in the twenty-four hours I’ve been given, yet my self-sufficiency (i.e. pride) tells me that I don’t need to be carried, I can do things just fine on my own, thank you very much.  I tell myself I’ll ask for help when I really need it.

I’ll bet God smiles when He sees my pathetic attempts at dragging myself around and trying to carry everything on my own little shoulders, and thinking that I am so strong and so big, not realizing that He is holding the load up so that it’s bearable and doesn’t break me.

Can you relate?  I smile now even as I write this because I think of my fourteen-year old son who says that he can’t wait to move out when he’s eighteen.  I tell him that as an adult there are bills and rent, cleaning the house,  forty-hour workweeks and things like paying taxes that aren’t as fun as playing Xbox live and hanging out with friends most of the time.  He’s sure that when he’s eighteen he’s got it made, not really understanding the concept that his parents are paying the utilities, providing for his shelter, and making sure that there is food in the house.

Don’t we often do that same thing though when we relate to God?  We say, “I got this,” not realizing that we are only breathing and our heart is still beating because He has given us another day to live.

The good thing is, we don’t have to come to the end of our rope to ask God for help and for strength.  I’ve done that far too many times- when I am sick, or when there’s a crisis, I finally say, “Lord, I can’t do this alone!”  But He is there to give us strength in every situation.  That’s why I love Matthew 11:28-30.  Here, Jesus says:

“Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (NKJV).”

Isaiah 40:28-29 says, “Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.  His understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.”

I’m praying for His strength for today and over the next couple of days, as I have to work a graveyard shift tomorrow night, and then we head to my in-laws’ house for Thanksgiving, so I will need His, because my body will probably be ready to sleep for about two days straight before we even get on the road Thanksgiving morning for the four and a half hour drive to my in-laws’ house.

Matthew 28-30 also promises that when we call upon Him, we will receive rest.  How lovely is that word, especially when I stop to think of all that it entails.  Not just rest as in sleep (though naps are nice too!) but rest from worry, from all of the hectic goings-on and the noise around us, rest from strain and struggle and toil.  Just resting in His arms and knowing that He is awake, even when we sleep.

“Thank You Lord, that You are our strength, that You are our refuge from the worries, the cares, the fatigue and the daily stresses in our lives.  When we are tired, I pray that we might run into Your arms and let You hold and carry us.  Forgive us when we try to go it alone, Lord, and forget that we need You.  Help us to desire to walk close with You each and every day.  I’m thankful that You’re right beside us always, and that You have been where we are so You understand, and that You’re with us in each tomorrow as well.  Help us to be living testimonies of Your strength and Your peace in our lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”