Archive for the ‘Comfort’ Category.

RARE and BEAUTIFUL TREASURES

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.  Proverbs 24:3-4 NIV

As a writer, I work daily to hone my craft and develop my skills.  I’m learning, but find there’s always more to learn.  As I read the above verses I imagine the rooms of my writing life filling with the rare and beautiful treasures of well crafted words that are directly related to wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

But of course, this verse is about a lot more than writing.  The rare and beautiful treasures could be spiritual insights, blessed relationships, meaningful work, opportunities, good friends, open doors, stability, creativity, direction and a million other things.

Knowledge can be acquired by reading and studying.  But how can we tap into the wisdom described above that graces our lives with such treasures?

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  James 1:5 NIV

 This verse gives the answer to our human quest for wisdom.  How do we find it?  From God, who is the source of all desirable things.  The good news is that wisdom is available to those who ask.

Let’s fill the rooms of our lives with rare and beautiful treasures.

Lord, you’ve told us to ask for wisdom if we are lacking.  Please fill our hearts and minds with your wisdom.  Amen

Home Improvements

Then I, Zechariah looked up and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand.  I asked, “Where are you going?”  He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.”  Zechariah 2:1-2 NIV

 At first glance, this passage holds negative connotations, like I need to “measure up.”  In my fallen, human condition I can easily list many areas that need improvement.

But at second look, I’m reminded how a carpenter measures a room, not to condemn it, but to implement an expansion project.  Carefully, that carpenter measures the rooms, locates the supporting walls, and considers where the foundation might be expanded.  The carpenter’s goal is to improve the structure, not to criticize it.  He finds the areas of weakness in order to make it better.  He breaks down walls to create a more open and beautiful space.

The measuring tape brings no condemnation, only opportunities.

Come Lord Jesus, we gladly welcome your measuring line, knowing you seek only our good. Amen 

 

Christmas Blues

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.  Psalm 137:1

This past week brought sad news from many directions.  A cousin’s husband died unexpectedly of a heart attack.  An old friend is hospitalized. Another learned she has a year to live even with chemo and radiation.  A friend confided that increased insurance co-pays will make it difficult for her to continue necessary treatment.  We know others facing joblessness, addiction and incarceration.

During this Christmas season, you may feel alone in your suffering. The world around you celebrates—and yet the sadness of your losses and the ache of yesterday make you wish the holidays were already over.

The enslaved Israelites felt the same.  Their Babylonian captors taunted them, and forced them to sing Israeli songs for their entertainment.  The Israelites wept as they sang, remembering their old home and the way things used to be. (see the above verse). They wanted only to go home. If this describes your feelings this holiday season, know you’re not alone. Your emotional pain is real. You will not find relief in tinsel, mistletoe or merriment, but you will find solace in the deeper meaning of Christmas.  Jesus was born to rescue humanity. Turn to Him.  Find a church service, read the Christmas story in the Book of Luke, pray for yourself and someone else who struggles. As you take these baby steps, you will feel His Presence.  He will bring good things into your life as you trust in Him.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6 NIV

 Lord, we pray for each one carrying a heavy burden this Christmas season.  Lift her spirits and grant peace.  Amen.

 

Choose to Be Thankful

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good;  his mercy is everlasting;  and his truth endures to all generations.   Psalm 100:4-5

John MacArthur writes, “Thanksgiving grabs our attention, shakes the cobwebs loose and reminds us of all God’s most precious gifts.”

We plod through life, mostly oblivious. We don’t appreciate the vigor of youth until we lose it. We don’t celebrate the blessing of good health until illness strikes.  As humans we find it easier to mourn what we don’t have rather than celebrate the multitude of blessings we take for granted.

Let’s join Mr. MacArthur in shaking those cobwebs loose and being thankful.  Start with the basics.  Thank God for your life, for clean air to breathe and water to drink.  Be thankful for nourishing food, jobs and warm houses. Celebrate your friends and family. Consider those wonderful blessings that fill your life. The psalmist says a wise man heeds these very things.

Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord.  Psalm 107:43 NIV

 

If You Are Going Through Hell, Keep Going By Wendy Alsup

Thanks to Wendy Alsup for this amazing insight.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

This quote showed up in my twitter feed last week. It reminds me of two Bible words with which I have a love/hate relationship – perseverance and endurance. These are two of the most precious, important instructions in the Christian vocabulary. Yet they are some of the hardest as well. My best friend talked with me about these words after her husband left her for another woman.

She had to uproot her life to begin again in a new state. She said that, day after day, her mantra was just to do the next thing. To take one step, then the next step, and then the next step in what felt like a never ending slog through a waist deep river rushing against her. Eventually (after 8 years or so), she slogged through the worst of it.

She didn’t emerge onto completely dry land with no struggles, but she certainly has emerged into a new season of life of much more peace and fewer intense struggles.  Most of all, she has seen redemption and healing in key relationships.

Persevere! it’s the best of advice. It’s the hardest of struggles. I long at times to curl up in the fetal position in bed. Yet, I have to buck it up and go volunteer in my son’s classroom. I’d rather drink myself to oblivion, but instead I need to make a lesson plan for a math class I’m teaching the next day. Some days, just getting up and taking the next step is the most profound expression of faith we can do.

Romans 5:3-4 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

 The marathon of whatever trial you are facing will certainly one day end. In the meantime, lessons from earthly marathons are helpful. I learned some lessons about endurance while running a … cough … 5k. Ok. I know some of you are big runners who put my tiny little 5k to shame. But my two little 5k’s put to shame everything I did physically the first 40 years of my life. So there.

I trained and built up from being able to run 10 feet to being able to run 2.5 miles. But no part of those miles when training was easy, and the last mile of the 5k beyond what I had practiced before was mind-numbing. It was just the sound of my shoe hitting the pavement and letting my breath out, over and over again. Don’t stop jogging. Keep moving. Don’t stop. Keep going. Don’t stop. Keep going. I imagine that feeling is greatly intensified for those in 10k’s or true marathons.

The thing about our Christian walk is that few of us know if we are in a 5k, a 10k, or a full blown 26 mile marathon. I know I will not be disappointed when I see Jesus face to face for the first time in heaven. Whatever I had to endure on earth, I know I will not have regrets over the long term trials God allowed in my life. But that’s the marathon.

That’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer praying psalms to himself as he walks naked to his death in a Nazi concentration camp. There was no ultimate physical rescue for him in this first life, though he walked with supreme confidence of his rescue in the next. But for many of my friends, rescue does come, at least in part, in this life.

I have two friends in particular who went through brutal seasons in their marriages who have both emerged from those seasons with resolution and healing – one after a divorce not of her own choosing and one still married and serving God with her husband. Those are the shorter runs – the ones with earthly resolutions. I love to read and hear about believers who have been rescued in this life – from sin, from sickness, from death, from bankruptcy.

When I am struggling to endure as I wait for redemption in parts of my own life, I seek out stories of redemption in others’ families, churches, or ministries. To me, such stories of redemption are like the cups of cold water runners receive from the sidelines in their long distance run.

Most of all, I am able to endure because of the One who endured before me, who endured FOR me.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

This is the thing that empowers me to keep going – that Jesus kept going for me. He endured the shame of the cross for a joy on the other side, and He’s surrounded us as we run along in our own marathon of suffering with a cloud of witnesses who have gone on before us who now stand cheering us on from the sidelines. The picture God gives us in Hebrews 12 of this marathon is beautiful!

The greatest aspect of this inspiring picture is that it moves me from seeing myself slogging alone against a swollen river to seeing myself running together in community, with Christ and with those who have gone on before me. I am cheered on by the community of believers. Those living. Those dead. We rejoice together in the redemption they have already experienced, and we endure together with those still longing for redemption to draw nigh in all aspects of their lives.

Wendy Alsup

www.theologyforwomen.org