What is Unseen is Eternal

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Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal. 

—2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

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Quality of Life

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Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 

So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. —2 Corinthians 4:1-18 (NIV)   Recently I’ve been contemplating the phrase “quality of life.” Here are some of the definitions of quality of life, also referred to as QOL:

  • Wikipedia: is the general well-being of individuals and societies. QOL has a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.
  • The Free Dictionary: Noun, quality of life- your personal satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the cultural or intellectual conditions under which you live (as distinct from material comfort); “the new art museum is expected to improve the quality of life” gratification, satisfaction – state of being gratified or satisfied; “dull repetitious work gives no gratification”; “to my immense gratification he arrived on time” [Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.]
  • Medicinet.com: The patient’s ability to enjoy normal life activities. Quality of life is an important consideration in medical care. Some medical treatments can seriously impair quality of life without providing appreciable benefit, whereas others greatly enhance quality of life.
  • BusinessDictionary.com: Dailyliving enhanced by wholesome food and clean air and water, enjoyment of unfettered open spaces and bodies of water, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, security from crime, and protection from radiation and toxic substances. It may also be used as a measure of the energy and power a person is endowed with that enable him or her to enjoy life and prevail over life’s challenges irrespective of the handicaps he or she may have.

As you can see, there are differing opinions on what quality of life actually means. Some people use it as a measurement of how happy and fulfilled a person is. Others think of it as a way to gauge how someone can enjoy life in spite of physical handicaps or limitations. And many others consider it to be an indication of how much people have overcome in order to enjoy their life no matter what obstacles they face. Where is God in all of this?

“The world is filled with people trying to adjust to the pain, trying to deal with life without total collapse, break down, burn out, hopelessness, fear, apathy or just giving up. And all of that really is a matter of learning how to endure. And that’s our key word this morning because the passage in front of us gives us the secrets to endurance…the secrets to endurance. How can we endure the pain of life? The profound difficulty of life? The great disappointments, broken dreams, broken bodies, broken homes, broken lives, broken relationships? How can we handle all of that? How can we face life like the Apostle Paul did who said back in verse 8 of this chapter, “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed”? How can we live like that? How can we be so triumphant?” —John MacArthur, GraceToYou.org

So, how can we think more like Paul? Is it possible to be afflicted and still be triumphant? I have shared with you before that I live with several chronic pain illnesses. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic migraine plague me every single day. Some days are worse than others, but I can honestly count on one hand the number of pain-free days I have had in the last 5 or 6 years and still have fingers left over. And yet I still have more joy than I ever thought possible. Joy-sm--AMP What is true joy? Charles Spurgeon describes it this way:

 “The JOY OF HOPE—who shall measure it? Those who are strangers to it are certainly strangers to the SWEETEST MATTER in spiritual life. With the exception of present communion with Christ, the JOY of a believer in this present state must be mainly the JOY OF HOPE. “It does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is (OUR HOPE).” (1John 3:2) We thank God that we shall be satisfied when we wake up (from the sleep of death) in the likeness of Jesus! This ANTICIPATION (HOPE) of Heaven makes (the hurt of) earth become endurable! And the sorrows of time lose their weight when we think of the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory (Our future HOPE). (2Corinthians 4:17)”

To me, the hope of joy = the joy of hope. I do not think we can have one without the other because each produces the other. For example, I can have the hope of joy because . . .

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! —Job 19:25-27

And I can also have the joy of hope because . . .

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. —Romans 15:5-6, 13

  Beloved, don’t you see? It doesn’t matter what is happening in our lives as long as we continue to hang our hope on our Savior. That thought alone produces so much joy that it is impossible to stay down or depressed about our circumstances for long.

Choose joy. Yes, joy is a choice that we make every single day. If we have invited Jesus Christ into our hearts as our Savior and Lord, then we have the certain hope of everlasting life in heaven with Him. And if we have that certain hope, how can we be anything but joyful no matter what our circumstances? My Redeemer lives! Please enjoy this video of Nicole C. Mullin singing one of my favorite and comforting songs, “My Redeemer Lives.” I know it will fill you with as much hope and joy as it does me! If for any reason you cannot view the video, read the lyrics here.

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Prayer When Dealing With Anxiety

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Since today is election day, I think we can all relate to this devotional I wrote quite awhile ago for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleThis particular devotional was included in the section titled Prayers of Supplication. 

 

When I’m dealing with anxiety . . .

When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought joy to my soul. 
—Psalm 94:19

 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 
—1 Peter 5:7

 

Anxiety weighs down the human heart,
but a good word cheers it up. 
—Proverbs 12:25 NRSV

 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God;
and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 
—Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV

 

May God bless you richly and grant you
increasing freedom from all anxiety and fear. 
—1 Peter 1:2 TLB

 

. . . I will pray.

Loving Father,

Edgy, anxious, jumpy—I just can’t seem to get it together this morning. Every little detail seems to be a big deal doing its dance across my mind. I really need Your help, Your peace, Your undisturbed calm.

I’m not sure how I got to this place. Too many newscasts with their dire predictions, too many experts telling me to watch out for this, never eat that, stay away from something else. There doesn’t seem to be one safe spot on the whole planet. Even at church, there are concerns about building funds and nursery workers and doctrinal controversies.

Lord, I don’t want to look at my life through anxious eyes. The world is what it is, but I know that You can give me peace in the midst of it. Right now, I offer all my anxious thoughts to You. I lay them at Your feet. And I ask You to sort through them and nudge me when I need to confront one of them. Until then, I’ll relax and rest in Your love and constant watchful care.

Amen.

 

Man’s world has become a nervous one,
encompassed by anxiety.
God’s world is other than this;
always balanced, calm, and in order. 
—Faith Baldwin

 

[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

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How Long O LORD {Part 3}

Published first in TRC Magazine on October 31, 2014:

Habakkuk Devotional Series – Part 3

If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed.
If you look at God you’ll be at rest.

—Corrie ten Boom

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Habakkuk’s Prayer

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.

LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear.
O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy.

—Habakkuk 3:1-2

In Chapter 2, Habakkuk listens as God replies to his concerns. At the end of that chapter, he acknowledges God’s power and pre-eminence:

But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.
—Habakkuk 2:20

Now he prays to God in the form of a Shigionoth, which was considered to be a highly emotional poetic form. Habakkuk has confronted God about the havoc he sees going on around him and asks Him why He is not doing anything about it. God has replied to his concerns, but Habakkuk is still wondering if God will really do anything about it.

Isn’t that just like us? We pray about a situation, telling God that we trust Him to take care of things as He deems right. And yet if we don’t see something happen quickly, don’t we find ourselves questioning God’s timing and motives?

Habakkuk goes on to tell God that he knows the way God has worked in the past when chastising rebellious peoples. But why is he begging God to remember mercy? It seems Habakkuk has forgotten the times God followed up the punishment by granting mercy to these same sinners. He still sees nothing but chaos, madness and war all around him and wonders if God will really do anything to stop these wicked Babylonians.

Finally, Habakkuk remembers that God is still in control and makes the choice to trust Him. Although he is still afraid, he pleads for God’s mercy.

Habakkuk’s Prophecy – Praise

God comes from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah.
His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise.

His radiance is like the sunlight; he has rays flashing from His hand,
and there is the hiding of His power.

Before Him goes pestilence, and plague comes after Him.

—Habakkuk 3:3-5

What a song of praise Habakkuk now sings! As was so often done in Old Testament times—and as we still do today—he is remembering and praising God’s past faithfulness, mercy and grace. Now he acknowledges a few of God’s awesome attributes:

  • His holiness (verse 3)
  • His splendor (verse 3)
  • His radiance (verse 4)

The Shekinah glory, which protected and led Israel from Egypt through the wilderness (cf. Ex 40:34-38), was the physical manifestation of His presence. Like the sun, He spread His radiance throughout the heavens and the earth. —John MacArthur

The term Shekinah as commonly used describes the visible manifestation of God’s presence and glory usually in the form of a cloud.1

  • His power (verse 4)

This description seems to refer to the unfathomable “inner recesses of the divine power.” How can a finite being, even the godly prophet Habakkuk, comprehend and stand in the presence of infinite power? But dear child of God, don’t forget that this very One is also YOUR Father, YOUR God, YOUR Protector! Be encouraged! —Richard Patterson

  • His righteous anger (verse 5)

He is powerful, as the earth shakes, the nations tremble, and the mountains crumble. If nature is brought low, fear and reverence by people is inevitable. “His ways are eternal”—nothing human, natural, or supernatural can stand against Him. —Today in the Word, Moody Bible Institute
Pronouncement

He stood and surveyed the earth; He looked and startled the nations.
Yes, the perpetual mountains were shattered, the ancient hills collapsed.
His ways are everlasting.

—Habakkuk 3:6

Habakkuk praises God’s magnificence and power. Who else can stand and survey the entire world at one time? God now gives him a vision of how He will demolish the evildoers by literally shaking up their world. The mountains and hills which have been in place since God put them there will be no more as they collapse and destroy the savage armies.

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But the multitude of your enemies shall become like fine dust,
and the multitude of the ruthless ones like the chaff
which blows away; and it shall happen instantly, suddenly.
—Isaiah 29:5

Habakkuk goes on to praise God as the everlasting One, who has always been, always will be, and whose ways are forever just and true.

Prediction

I saw the tents of Cushan under distress, the tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling.

Did the LORD rage against the rivers, or was Your anger against the rivers, or was Your wrath against the sea, that You rode on Your horses, on Your chariots of salvation?

Your bow was made bare, the rods of chastisement were sworn. Selah. You cleaved the earth with rivers.
The mountains saw You and quaked; the downpour of waters swept by. The deep uttered forth its voice, it lifted high its hands.
Sun and moon stood in their places; they went away at the light of Your arrows, at the radiance of Your gleaming spear.
In indignation You marched through the earth; in anger You trampled the nations.
You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for the salvation of Your anointed. You struck the head of the house of the evil to lay him open from thigh to neck. Selah.
You pierced with his own spears the head of his throngs. They stormed in to scatter us; their exultation was like those who devour the oppressed in secret.
You trampled on the sea with Your horses, on the surge of many waters.
—Habakkuk 3:7-15

This section is unquestionably difficult to understand. Habakkuk starts by recalling past events, stating and praising the way God protected His people (Israel) time after time. He continues to confirm God’s awesome power over His creation as He overtakes and subdues the enemies of His people by demolishing the very things He placed on this earth.

He ends this portion by heaping praises on God for protecting and saving His chosen people.

But while He comes thus, executing wrath and judgment upon the ungodly, He comes in mercy. He goes forth for the salvation of His people, for the salvation of Thine anointed, that is, the elect nation (Israel) and the God-fearing, waiting remnant of the last days (see Ps. 105:15).
—A. C. Gaebelein

Premonition

I heard and my inward parts trembled, at the sound my lips quivered.
Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble.
Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress,
for the people to arise who will invade us.

—Habakkuk 3:16

Habakkuk is sharing his own personal reactions to all God has revealed to him of what is to come. Although he knows that God will take care of the terrible Chaldeans, he also realizes that it will not be pretty.

Warren Wiersbe explains Habakkuk’s current state of mind this way:

“If Habakkuk looked ahead, he saw a nation heading for destruction, and that frightened him. When he looked within, he saw himself trembling with fear, and when he looked around, he saw everything in the economy about to fall apart. But when he looked up by faith, he saw God, and all his fears vanished.”

Praise

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.

For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.
—Habakkuk 3:17-19

In spite of Habakkuk’s fears, his faith enables him to express his absolute trust in God. He exults (rejoices) in His LORD; “the Lord GOD is my strength.” He quietly and patiently acknowledges that only God is his help and directs his every step no matter how steep the mountain of trials may be.

Summary of Habakkuk

Habakkuk is the only Old Testament book consisting entirely of a dialogue between God and a man. Other prophetic books consist mainly of a record of the prophets’ message (preaching) to the people.2

In the first chapter, we considered Habakkuk’s confusion in a world filled with chaos. He felt that God saw and knew about all the injustice and corruption but did not care enough about His people to do anything about it.

In Chapter 2, Habakkuk patiently waits as God replies to his questions by saying that He is using the Babylonians for His purposes and will punish them for their sins in His timing. God reminds Habakkuk that no matter what he sees or feels, He is still on His throne taking care of business as He sees fit. Ultimately Habakkuk submits to God’s authority and continues to praise Him.

Finally, in this last chapter, we see that Habakkuk has done a complete about-face. He now completely understands that God has not abandoned His own people. His faith is renewed and his why is replaced with great rejoicing over the strength, constancy and faithfulness of God.

The theme of Habakkuk is faith. He has been called the prophet of faith. This little book opens in gloom and closes in glory. It begins with a question mark and closes with an exclamation point.
—J. Vernon McGee

This short book of prophecy is a great comfort to me. When I am feeling low regarding events currently going on in the world or even about the personal issues that make my daily life a struggle, I have great peace in knowing that God is always available to hear my questions and concerns.

Habakkuk had a conversation with God about the wickedness going on in the world. He thought God was not paying attention to the evil Babylonians but God assured him that not only did He know all that was happening, but that He already had a plan in place to take care of the matter.

Our world today is full of violence, injustice and depravity. We are daily faced with news of war, pandemic illnesses and terrorist activity. Christian values are being laughed at, and we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior are scoffed at and treated as fools.

Is this any different than in Habakkuk’s time?

Take heart! No matter how awful and frightening the world is today, God is still in control. He is not surprised by anything that is happening. He is fully aware of what is going on, is using every single thing for His purposes and His glory, and will continue to do so forever. 

Picture4David Jeremiah’s devotional, “Fear No Evil,” says that evil has always been around and always will be:

Perhaps the evil is worse now; we’re closer to the end than we’ve ever been before. But evil has been around since the Garden of Eden, and God’s plan for victory was designed before the world began. The Bible tells us to fear no evil. Because Christ triumphed, we will also overcome evil in the end. Trust Christ in this evil age and redeem the time, for the days are evil.

Make no mistake: sin will be punished. Satan and his minions will eventually be sealed in the Lake of Fire where they will spend eternity. Those of us who claim Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord will live in peace and harmony with Him in heaven forever. There we will bask in the precious, lavish and all-encompassing love of our Abba Father.

He who testifies to these things says,
“Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
—Revelation 22:20

1 http://www.preceptaustin.org/overview_glory_of_the_lord.htm#Shekinah
2 http://preceptaustin.org/habakkuk_commentaries.htm

 

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Mourning Yet Praising

Today’s post is taken from one of Today in the Word’s devotionals by Moody Bible Institute. I think this pairs well with my Prayer When Struggling With Depression post from last week. 

Is it really possible to be depressed or in mourning and still be praising God? This might sound like a paradox but it is indeed possible. We can mourn or be depressed about a situation and yet praise God because of who He is and how He is always with us. If we have trusted Him in the past we can trust Him again and again because we know that He will see us through this particular storm. And because He has been faithful to us before, we can count on that faithfulness every single day.

Beloved, please read on. I believe you will be blessed by this as much as I am.

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Mourning yet Praising

StreamWaterfall-www.todayintheword.org

Read Psalm 42 

My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you. 
—Psalm 42:6 

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Ten years ago, Chuck and Lynette’s daughter Joy died of complications from epilepsy. She was 28 years old. Joy was a vibrant Christian who had lived up to her name—everyone who knew her testified to her sweet spirit. “I miss her so much every day,” Lynette said. “We used to sing together in church, and I have so many special memories of singing and laughing together. When I sing those songs today, sometimes I cry instead of laugh, but I know that one day we’ll be reunited at the feet of Jesus.”

Lynette’s statement beautifully captures the paradoxical tension within biblical lament. We can feel loss and hope at the same time. We can sing hymns of praise even while we weep and mourn.Our reading for today, Psalm 42, concludes our focus this month on lament. Unlike some of the other lament psalms, this one does not move in a straight line from lament over circumstances to trust in God’s character. Throughout the psalm, the poet describes how desperation and faith wrestle with one another.

In the first four verses, the psalmist articulates his loneliness, torment, grief, and longing. The opening image of the deer panting for water vividly conveys the psalmist’s desperate yearning. Verses 5 and 6 serve as both a summary of the psalm and a hinge between its two sections. The psalmist indicates that he is both downcast and trusting God. He has hope that the time for praise will come.

But the psalm doesn’t end there. Expressions of trust in God don’t end the experience of suffering and sorrow. The psalmist experiences God’s love (v. 8) and also feels abandoned by God (v. 9). The psalmist persists in biblical lament—he is downcast and disturbed, but he also trusts in God and looks forward to praise (v. 11).

Apply the Word

Biblical lament defies our cultural expectations to process grief in certain ways or to just get on with things. You don’t have to feel better before you praise God. Coming to Him with your desperation and suffering is itself an act of trust. Make verse 11 your own personal prayer and statement of faith that you will one day praise God at the feet of Jesus.

http://www.todayintheword.org/titw_devotion.aspx?id=142179

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Prayer When Struggling With Depression

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Today my energy and spirit is dragging, making it difficult to think clearly enough to write. I keep a list of ideas to write about but I can’t seem to summon up the energy to look those up. Instead, I want to share with you one of my devotionals that was published in an anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People

This particular devotional was in the section titled Prayers of Supplication. 

When I’m struggling with depression . . .

Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.
Let me hear of your unfailing love to me in the morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk, for I have come to you in prayer.
—Psalm 143:7-8 NLT

…..

My soul melts from heaviness;
strengthen me according to Your word.
—Psalm 119:28 NKJV

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God, Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed and the sinking,
comforted and encouraged and refreshed and cheered us.
—2 Corinthians 7:6 AMP

…..

When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
 
—Psalm 94:19 NLT

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. . . I will pray.

Father God,

There is so much in my life today that makes me want to give up. I have no energy to do even the basic things such as getting dressed or taking a shower. Nothing seems right. I despise my job. Food no longer appeals to me. My family and friends want to help me, but the thought of being with anyone is so exhausting.

I just want to be left alone. Why must I feel this way? How could I wake up one day with such despair in my heart? It’s not that I haven’t struggled to shake off this gloomy cloud. I truly have, but nothing has helped. And then I remember how You died on that cross for me and how alone and abandoned You must have felt.

Thank You for showering me with Your life-giving comfort and the reassurance of knowing that You truly understand my suffering. Lord, I turn to You now in hope and faith because even if everyone else in my life gives up on me, I know You’ll hold tight to me with a love that won’t let go.

Thank You for always being my Anchor.

Amen.

When you come to the bottom, you find God. —Nevill Talbot

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[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

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Sea of Distress

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Sea of Distress

And they will pass through the sea of distress 
and He will strike the waves in the sea, 
so that all the depths of the Nile will dry up; 
and the pride of Assyria will be brought down 
and the scepter of Egypt will depart.
“And I will strengthen them in the Lord
and in His name they will walk,” declares the Lord
—Zechariah 10:11-12

Almost daily we are inundated with devastating news of earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, tropical storms and severe flooding. Many lives are lost or affected in some way by these tragedies. Even heavy rains can cause everything from roof leaks and power outages to high winds and massive mud slides. Many times these rain storms come one upon another with no time in between to allow the over-saturated earth to dry out. And just when we think we have survived a storm, a mudslide occurs days and sometimes weeks later.

In these dire situations, we are learning a tough fact of life: there is only so much we can do to protect ourselves and our property from the raging storm. Oftentimes we find our property completely gone. How do we start all over again?

In verse 11 above, God parted the Red Sea—the sea of distress—to deliver the Israelites safely from the Egyptians. This miracle was a perfect example of how the Israelites could not save themselves, but had to rely on God for protection.

In the same way, God is here to walk each of us through our own sea of distress, whether that be devastating weather, illness, job loss, or the death of a loved one. Doesn’t it sometimes seem as if we’ll never be able to cross that sea?

We find ourselves feeling as if we’re floundering and treading water for all we’re worth, until we finally sink into our own personal and familiar sea of distress. Each day is a continuation of the pain and anxiety of the previous day, until we finally can’t feel one day ending before the next begins. The frustration and trouble are ever with us.

It doesn’t have to be that way if we have God on our side. He is the only one Who cares for us enough to strengthen us on our earthly journey. We only need to trust Him to do so. The more we lean on Him each day, the closer our walk with Him will be. And the closer that walk, the more we’ll be able to put off the cloak of despair and instead put on a garment of joy in our circumstances.

Yes, we will still be surrounded by the pain of our individual situation, but when we trust and rely on God during those times, we can rest in the assurance that He will enable us to cross our own sea of distress each day, confident in His love and care. That’s the kind of relationship that will bring glory to God.

And in the end, that’s all that matters anyway.

…..

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Look upon my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
—Psalm 25:16-18

 …..

“I love men who can smile in trouble,
who can gather strength from distress,
and grow brave by reflection.”
—Thomas Paine

 

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My Times Are in Your Hands

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But I trust in You, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.” 

My times are in Your hands.
—Psalm 31:14-15

Once again, I struggled to unscrew the top from a jar but the stubborn cap refused to budge. Just as I was getting ready to call on Rick for help, it came loose.

I hated having to ask Rick for help so often, but the arthritis in my fingers and carpal tunnel problems with my wrists cause difficulties with the simplest tasks. Daily my frustration grows as I witness different parts of my body getting weaker and sometimes even breaking down. These days I can’t even get down onto the floor or up again without great pain and difficulty because of my bad knees.

Why do things have to be this way? I silently ask God, but I already know the answer: “Trust Me, child, I’m always here to take care of you.”

What would we do without the promises of such a loving God who faithfully guides us through the trials of life? He knows everything about us, which means He understands our limitations. He has intimate knowledge about how much we hurt and He is always with us to comfort our painful and grieving body and spirit. He holds us close to His heart in His ever-powerful hands.

I know my God takes care of me—I believe this without a shadow of doubt. I guess my real problems start when I focus on my problems instead of on God. He realizes my pain and frustration and provides the best comfort possible through His Word. How often I have been in despair and found in Scripture the very words I needed to calm my heart.

Imagine the strength in God’s hands. Now picture those same hands pulling you close in a calm and comforting embrace. His strength is our strength, and can get us through those frustrating times when nothing seems to go right.

Beloved, our times are in God’s hands because everything in our lives is under His control.

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My Lamp in the Darkness

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“You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light. —2 Samuel 22:29

David had many names for God: Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Refuge, Shield, Horn of Salvation, Stronghold, Savior … Lamp. What a strange way to refer to God, as a common household object. But the meaning is clear when we read on, “the LORD turns my darkness into light.”

I have always loved to read. When I was a young girl, I used to read late into the night. I tried to find ways to keep my bedside lamp from shining too brightly, thus attracting my mother’s attention to the late hour. Sometimes I was successful, but most often my efforts would be curtailed. Without that lamp, I wouldn’t have been able to read in bed at all.

What would we do at night without our lamps? We couldn’t read or write or do a host of other things in the darkness. Even the light of the moon is not strong enough to enable us to see certain things that are right in front of us.

Many of us have what is termed night vision. We can navigate our homes in the middle of the night without turning on a light. That’s because our eyes become accustomed to the dark after a few minutes of turning off the light. I can walk into the kitchen without a light on, but once there I need to turn on the light so I can see the details around me without knocking something off the counter. Without the light, I wouldn’t be able to navigate further without injuring myself.

Beloved, that’s the way God is with us. Without His light, we can only add to our own pain and misery, never seeing His goodness for all the darkness surrounding us. We need to focus on Him as our lamp in the midst of all our pain and frustration.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes we’re so blind when it comes to trusting You. How often we seem to be groping around on our own rather than relying on You as our Guide. Help us to always look to You as our lamp shining through the darkness of this life’s painful circumstances. Remind us to trust You to navigate us through the dark waters of our earthly existence. Amen.

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Suffering According to God’s Will [Joni ​Eareckson Tada repost]

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Suffering According to God’s Will

​by Joni Eareckson Tada

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will
should commit themselves to their faithful Creator
and continue to do good.” 

—1 Peter 4:19

​All suffering is within God’s sovereign will. There is not a sparrow that falls without His knowledge or a soul lost for eternity without His tearful purpose being accomplished. In the midst of the expanse of the sovereign will of God is one kind of suffering initiated by us that God not only allows but rewards.​

There are many ways to suffer in this world, where things happen to us. But the kind of suffering referred to by Peter is suffering we experience by choice, through obedience. Such obedience may result in mockery, beatings, discrimination, trials, and temptations. It’s the price one pays for having our bodies in the world and our spirits in the kingdom. Like being on a rack, we can’t escape the torture.

My wheelchair is a suffering that came from the sovereign purpose of the glory of God. And since that time twenty-five years ago, I’ve also suffered things that have come upon my spirit as a result of being in the kingdom. I have chosen to flee temptation, to drag my body from church to hospital, to endure the scorn of those who don’t know God. And I have suffered as a result. Such is the will of God for my life.

​The common suffering He comforts. The godly suffering He rewards. Exchange neither for anything. We can “entrust our souls to a faithful Creator.”

​_____________________________________

Lord, grant me strength to endure the common sufferings of life and the willful sufferings of Your kingdom. In all these, may Your presence sustain me and Your glory be made known.

Taken from Diamonds in the Dust.  Copyright © 1993 by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Used by permission.  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

http://www.joniandfriends.org/

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