Conntecting the Dots

3 Truths About the Hard Places of Life

3 truths about the hard places of life

No one enjoys the hard places of life, but sometimes they’re the richest.

Genesis 28 tells the story of Jacob traveling to his uncle Laban’s home. This wasn’t a joy ride. He was running from his twin brother who wanted to kill him for stealing his blessing. (Genesis 27:41-45)

One night, Jacob set up camp and found—get this—a stone—yes, a stone—for a pillow. Can you imagine trying to sleep on a rock? I can’t. The guy must have been completely exhausted to fall into a deep sleep under those circumstances.

As Jacob slept, he dreamt of a stairway that reached from earth to heaven. He saw the angels of God going up and down, and the LORD stood at the top and spoke reassuringly to him. (Genesis 28:13-15) When he woke, he said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it” (Genesis 28:16).

This account is only a few verses long, but it packs important truths for us to apply when we experience the hard places of life:

  • God knows where we are at all times.

We might end up camped in a hard, unfamiliar, uncomfortable place and we might feel all alone there, but He is with us in that place. Just as He did not abandon Jacob, so He will never leave or forsake us. (Joshua 1:9)

  • God reveals Himself to us there.

“I am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of your father, Isaac,” He declared to Jacob in a dream. (Genesis 28:13) He wants to reveal Himself to us, too. For reasons known only to Him, the hard places of life are often where we experience those revelations best. Let’s reframe the way we regard those places, then—not as places to avoid at all cost, but as places to enter with courage and expectancy knowing God wants to deepen our friendship with Him there.

  • God’s presence can go unnoticed There.

Sad but true. When we’re in the midst of a hard place, we might become focused on our loneliness or pain and completely forget that God is still actively engaged in our lives. When that’s the case, we become vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks and lose hope. Let’s  ask Him to keep us ever mindful of His presence and watch for evidences that He is there.

Jacob made another statement that captures my attention. He said, “What an awesome place this is!” (Genesis 28:17)

My human nature wants to respond, “Seriously? A hard place is an awesome place?” But then I think about the amazing God-encounter Jacob experienced that night, and I have to agree with him. If life’s hard places mean experiencing God in new ways, then they are awesome indeed.

How have you found a hard place to be a place of growth and experiencing God more intimately?

 

Be blessed today with this song by Lincoln Brewster. Let’s choose to worship and trust the Lord while we wait in life’s hard places.

 

#bgbg2

God Always Keeps His Promises

God always keeps His promises

Someone once said that promises are made to be broken. Sadly, we live in a society where many people believe this is true. Promises are made, promises are broken, and people end up hurt. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t operate that way? We never have to put a guard around our heart lest He disappoint us because God always keeps His promises.

Psalm 12:6 says, “The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over.” Sometimes those promises don’t come to pass as quickly as we wish. When they finally come true, they might look different than we’d hoped. They might come with a condition that we have to fulfill first.

Regardless, God will never make a promise and then forget to honor it. He’ll never commit to doing something and then procrastinate or fail to follow through. God always keeps His word.

Here are five promises on which we can relay with certainty when facing uncertainty.

  • “…Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NIV)

We are not alone even when we feel lonely because God’s presence—through the indwelling Holy Spirit—goes with us everywhere, day and night.

  • “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26 NLT)

What a relief to know the Holy Spirit covers our concerns when we haven’t got a clue how to put them into words.

  • No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:37 NLT)

The One who conquered death works in us to conquer all things that stand against us.

  • “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”(John 14:27 NLT)

Jesus –the Prince of Peace—has provided a gift that money can’t buy, and He even gives instructions so we can maximize it.  (Philippians 4:6-7)

  • “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4 NLT)

Heaven. I can only imagine.

God will always keep His promises. Which one of the five listed above is most relevant to you today?

#bgbg2

Let your heart enter worship with “God of the Promise” by Elevation Worship.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G26HDdqCyGw

When the Storm Strikes

when the storm strikes

It was a September day, and Sailor-Man and I were boating back from Campbell River, BC after attending a friend’s memorial service. And then it happened: the sky blackened. Ominous clouds rolled in. The wind picked up and began whipping waves into froth. Thankfully, we’d seen the storm coming and had time to prepare, but that’s not always been the case especially when talking about the storms of life. Often they hit us when we least expect. But here’s the good news—God has given us promises to help us survive and find hope when the storm strikes.

Promise #1 – God is with us.

One of my favorite names of God is “Immanuel,” meaning “God with us.” Imagine! The Creator of the universe became one of us to walk with us in our pain. He is never too distant to hear our cries or too busy to calm our fears. He’s with us when we wake in the morning, when we fall asleep at night, and every minute in between. We are never alone because He promised to never leave us, and He cannot lie.

When the storm strikes, let’s meditate on these words: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) He is present and personal. Such a beautiful, life-giving promise, yes?

Promise #2 – God loves us.

When the storm strikes, our human tendency is to question God’s intent toward us and ask, “Why me?” Let’s reel in those doubts and focus instead on the truth about His love toward us.

The storm might bring winds of trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword but none of these things can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:35) Suffering is guaranteed on this earth, but His love remaining true to us is also guaranteed. We might not understand what He’s doing, but we can rest assured that He is good and His intent toward us is nothing less.

Promise #3 – God is sovereign.

When the storm strikes, we might look around at the seeming destruction in its wake and wonder how anything good can come from it. Our human perspective sees only broken dreams and shattered expectations, but God sees things from a heavenly, eternal perspective. Nothing can thwart His purposes. Nothing.

When we trust Him with our deepest pain, He picks up those shards and turns them into a stained-glass masterpiece. We need to remember, though, that masterpieces take time. In reality, we might not live to see the finished product, but that doesn’t diminish the truth of God’s active involvement in every detail of our lives and His ability to bring beauty from ashes.

When the storm strikes, hang onto this familiar promise: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Here’s another one that’s been helpful to me lately: “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)

And so, my friend, be encouraged today.

Storms will come and go. Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to see them coming, but other times, not so much. Regardless, God’s promises help us navigate the wind and waves to a safe harbor. We can trust Him and not be afraid.

Do you have a favorite Scripture promise that helps you weather the storms of life? If so, what is it?

 

The song “Praise You in This Storm” by Casting Crowns came to mind as I wrote this blog, so I thought I’d share it with you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YUGwUgBvTU

If you’re needing encouragement in a storm right now, or you know someone who does, order a copy of my latest devotional, Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm. I’ll autograph it and include a beautiful bookmark. BTW — this book just made the finalists’ list in the devotional book category! Winners will be announced on August 14th.

Keeping Hope Alive

Finding Strength to Soar

finding strength to soar

Sailor-Man and I live within sight of a nest that houses a pair of bald eagles. A few days ago, I caught a close-up of the birds in flight. The sight of these feathered majesties rising on the wind reminded me of God’s promise to strengthen His people, and I breathed a prayer of gratitude: “Father, thank You that in the midst of weighty issues like war, inflation, disease, and family turmoil, You’ve given us the key to finding strength to soar.”

That key to finding strength to soar is freely accessible to all regardless of race, age, or gender, and it’s guaranteed to never fail. It works for every burden we bear and every situation that drains our energy whether emotional, mental, spiritual, or physical. We only need to accept it from the One who holds it.

Who is this One who holds the key to finding strength to soar?

“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:28)

What qualifies Him as the keeper of the key?

Being the everlasting God and Creator of the ends of the earth ought to be enough credential, but there’s more: “He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” (Isaiah 40:28)

What will we gain by using the key?

“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” (Isaiah 40:29) Imagine! We come to Him depleted, with nothing to offer, and He replenishes us. We come faint, weary, and exhausted, and He renews us. (Isaiah 40:30)

So…in a nutshell…what’s this key to finding strength to soar?

I’m glad you asked. Here’s the answer: “…wait for the Lord…” (Isaiah 40:31) I did a study on this verse several years ago and discovered that the word “wait” in this context denotes being twisted together.

Picture a rope. Ropes are not made from single strands, right? They’re made from several strands twisted together. That’s what makes them strong. If the strands fray and fall apart, a rope will become weak and fragile.

Ropes aboard our boat-home.

Likewise, we find strength to rise above our worries and fears when we are twisted together with God.

A closely-knit relationship with God is the key to finding strength to soar. We develop it by reading His Word on a regular basis, patterning our lives after His precepts, and sharing our concerns and hopes with Him. We do these things not from religious duty to earn His favor but from utter dependence on Him and gratitude for what He’s done for us. As we press in to know Him and walk in His ways, He gives us wisdom to know how to best respond to the challenges we face. He strengthens us inwardly and gives us the ability to not only survive but thrive in the face of the weighty issues that surround us personally and globally. Beautiful.

The key to finding strength to soar is found in four little words: wait for the LORD.

“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31)

Write this verse on a card and put it where you’ll see it often, my friend. Perhaps your nightstand would be a great place so you can see these words before you fall asleep and the moment you wake up. Wait on the LORD, and He will renew your strength.

Taming the Tongue

taming the tongue

 

Taming the tongue isn’t easy.

This is true at any time, but moreso in the current political climate. How many times in the past couple of years have you forced yourself to refrain from saying something regrettable? Or perhaps you didn’t: You expressed an opinion contrary to a friend or family member’s and sparked a verbal firestorm. In retrospect, we all have moments when we realize that some things go better left unsaid, right?

 

Spouting off is easy.

How easy it is to spout off when we feel our opinion is not being respected. Or when we’re bone weary. Or when we believe the person with whom we’re speaking is flat-out wrong. How easy it is to engage our tongue inappropriately when we want to prove a point or before we collect all the facts. Proverbs 18:13 says this about the latter: “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” Ouch. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could hit a delete button the moment we say something regrettable so our words would vanish before they reach the listeners’ ears?

 

The tongue may be small but it’s mighty.

So mighty, in fact, that humanity can’t tame it. It’s a  “restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:7-8) It causes irreparable damage when used to criticize, gossip, and lie. On the other hand, it blesses when used to provide helpful instruction, mend broken hearts, and inspire hope. It’s our job, then, to learn to use it for good.

 

Taming the tongue for good.

Our tongue can be a mighty tool to build up and encourage and speak life. And goodness knows how many people need to be built up and encouraged and have life-giving words spoken over them in these crazy days. So, as we learn to tame our tongue and use it for good, let’s ask ourselves these three questions:

 

  • Is it necessary?

Is the comment we’re about to make really needed? Does it bring value to the conversation or merely consume air space? Does it show concern for others or focus only on ourselves? Is it relevant to the moment, or does it blow past where others are engaging to pursue something that interests us more? Not everything that comes to mind needs to be expressed. Sometimes silence is golden.

 

  • Is it true?

As a little girl, I learned the hard way that lying never works in our favor. It only plants doubt in others’ minds about whether or not we’re trustworthy. Let’s stick to the truth so others won’t have reason to doubt our integrity.

 

Also, on occasion I’ve repeated information from trusted sources only to discover later that it wasn’t entirely true. Let’s fact-check. Let’s be careful not to dole out second-hand information unless we know beyond reasonable doubt that it’s accurate. May we be people on whom others can fully rely.

 

  • Is it kind?

We might be tempted to let ‘er rip if someone says something thoughtless or unkind to us, but we’re better off to take a step back and breathe deep. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Does this mean we always agree with whatever someone else says? No. We can disagree with others’ opinions, but we can do so in a respectful manner.

 

Taming the tongue is a lesson from which we can all benefit. Thankfully the Holy Spirit is our Teacher, and we can ask Him, and trust Him, to help us be good students.

 

#bgbg2

Trusting God with our Concerns

 

our souls crave peace

In a recent conversation about trusting God with our concerns, a friend reflected on bygone days when her kids were young. She recalled sleepless nights, laundry piles that multiplied by the minute, and temper tantrums (not hers!) over simple things like broccoli touching macaroni and cheese on one’s lunch plate. “Those times were challenging,” she said, “but they were nothing compared to the challenges I face as the parent of adult children, especially when they make choices that hurt themselves or others. I can’t tell them what to do. I have to just pray and trust God to work in their lives.”

 

Another friend told me about her dad. Widowed and in his 90s, he’d recently moved into a seniors’ care facility and was finding the transition difficult. “I worry about him,” she said. “The facility is short-staffed. What if Dad’s needs can’t be met adequately? I begin every day by asking God to watch over him. When worry starts to creep in, I have to intentionally choose to trust God with my concerns.”

 

I just returned from moving my youngest daughter and her family to northern B.C. As a mom, I pray that they’ll adjust well and find friends who not only share common interests but who love the Lord and make His kingdom their first priority. Today I’m heading south to visit my other daughter. My prayers for her focus on persevering with hope through chronic pain. Oh, how I wish I could fix it for her, like in those bygone days when I could kiss my baby’s boo-boo away. But I can’t. I can, however, trust God with my concerns.

 

The Bible tells us over and over to trust God with our concerns.

Philippians 4:6-7 is one example: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

 

Trusting God with our concerns is easier said than done, but it can be done.

Paul and Barnabas put this into practice. On one particular occasion, they’d been crisscrossing the country to preach the Gospel and encourage believers to continue in their faith despite suffering. They’d also helped churches set up their leadership. They could have hovered over the new leaders to ensure they understood their roles and did things right, but they did not. Here’s what they did: “Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” (Acts 14:23)

 

Don’t you love that? Despite the potential for things to go sideways, Paul and Barnabas trusted the elders to God and headed to the next location to continue the work He’d called them to do.

 

My friend, what concerns are on your heart today?

Are you like me, feeling concerned for your adult kids? Maybe you’re concerned about your marriage, your church family, your financial state, or a major decision coming your way. Isn’t it reassuring to know that we don’t have to carry these alone? God invites us to give them to Him because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7) He also commands us to combine prayer with fasting as a way of showing that we depend on Him more than on physical food. (Matthew 6:16-18) There are different types and lengths of fasts, and He’ll teach us what to do when we ask Him for direction in this regard.

No matter what worries weigh us down, let’s acknowledge our need for God’s help, invite His intervention, and expect Him to answer in His way and in His time.

The One who is all-wise and forever faithful knows our hearts and hears our cries. He holds us and those we love in His hands. Our souls crave peace, and trusting God with our concerns is the pathway to finding it.

 

Here’s a simple but powerful exercise to do today. Take Acts 14:23 and make it personal by filling in the blank: “With prayer and fasting, I will turn _____________ (identify your concerns) over to the care of the Lord, in whom I have put my trust.”

 

Feel free to post your completed statement here so others can pray for you, okay? Know you are loved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Experience Joy When Your Heart Aches

 

joy

Last week provided an opportunity to spend three days on the Makana with our youngest daughter and her family. I’m so grateful for that time because this week, as you read this, we’re packing up their household and moving them to northern British Columbia where our son-in-law will do his two-year family practice residency.

 

I‘ve so enjoyed having this family within an hour’s drive since last September, but the move puts them about ten hours away. No more popping in to watch the kids for a couple of hours, freeing my daughter to run errands. No more sitting together in church or doing lunch together after the Sunday service. And no more sleepovers on Grandma’s boat. The mere thought of saying goodbye next week, after getting them settled, makes my eyes misty.

 

I’ll be honest—my heart aches but, at the same time, I’m experiencing the promise in Proverbs 16:20—“Those who trust the LORD will be joyful.”

 

We asked God to direct this family’s steps for the residency placement, and He did. We asked Him to provide housing for them there, and He did. We asked Him to provide childcare for when our daughter has to return to work, and He did. Well, actually…He’s yet to provide childcare for the one-year-old, but we’re fully expecting Him to come through. As recently as a few weeks ago, they faced a host of unknowns on this journey, but we chose not to worry. Instead, we chose to trust God to meet them at every corner. He did. And He will continue to do so because that’s who He is. Faithful. Wise. Good.

 

“Those who trust the LORD will be joyful,” says the proverb.

 

That’s because trusting God in the process and for the outcome means we don’t bear the burden of solving every problem and overcoming every obstacle. We give our cares to the LORD because He cares for us, and He does the hard work. (1 Peter 5:7)

 

This isn’t a one-and-done promise. It’s backed by many more that guarantee joy when we place our trust in God. Here are few examples.

 

  • Romans 15:13 (NLT) – “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
  • Psalm 28:7 (NLT) – ”The Lord is my strength and shield.I trust him with all my heart.
    He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.  I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”
  • Psalm 33:21 (NLT) — “In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.”

 

Clearly, trust and joy share a close connection. This quote explains it well: “Our joy in God is bound up with our trust in God. The two cannot be separated—not ever. Trust is the backbone of joy. And joy is the outflow of trust in one who is fully Trustworthy.” (Tony Reinke, senior writer for Desiring God)

 

Every challenge we face forces us to make a choice. Will we choose to trust our doubting selves? Or will we choose to trust a God who is faithful, wise, and good? The former launches us into fear and anxiety. The latter brings joy as we wait with hopeful anticipation for a good outcome under God’s control.

 

So, my friend, what changes or challenges are you facing at this time? Will you join me in choosing to trust God? Let’s believe that He will give us wisdom, strength, courage, and whatever else is needed to carry us through.

 

Joy comes when we trust the One who is fully trustworthy.

 

#bgbg2

 

 

 

 

 

What Is Your Response to Disappointment?

Hi, my friend! I’m currently taking a few days’ break with family, so I invited my friend Rebecca Barlow Jordan to share a post with you this week. She has some sweet insights about dealing with disappointments. I know we can all relate to that topic.

 

Rebecca is a prolific writer and minister’s wife, has two children and four grandchildren, and lives in Texas. Connect with her on her website rebeccabarlowjordan.com to learn more about her and her latest book, Day-votions® with Your Faithful Father: 90 Days with the One Who Wants to Meet All Your Needs.

 

 

Disappointment can knock on your door dressed in a variety of “costumes.”

 

Betrayal. A doctor’s report. An unexpected phone call. A tragic loss.

 

I remember when I received the phone call about my father, and how it brought me to my knees. “He’s gone.” I never got to say goodbye.

 

Or when my gynecologist’s brow furrowed as he placed his stethoscope to my abdomen and frowned: “There’s no heartbeat.” And that’s only a few. We’ve all experienced our own.

 

I haven’t always responded the way I wanted to when disappointment arrived at my doorstep. But through the years, God has taught me some awesome things about His character and His activity in my life—and in all our lives.

 

What would your faithful Father tell you if you talked to Him about your disappointment? Does God really care about your concerns? Is He too busy to listen?

 

Throughout the Bible, God offers encouragement when disappointment tries to steal our hopes, joys, and dreams. How do we respond at those times? As we turn to Him, based on His Word and His attributes, I wonder what our faithful heavenly Father might say to us personally. Here’s what I imagine Him saying to me.

 

“My child, disappointment can creep into your life like an unseen enemy. Just like in a marriage or a family, when you hold on to misplaced expectations, you will meet frustration head-on. Imperfect people will let you down; circumstances will cloud your perspective, and life will disappoint you. Sometimes you even get angry with Me if My answers are not what you expected or if I don’t come through like you thought I would. But I will never withhold My love or anything good from My children.

“I am the One who never disappoints. And I always know what’s best for you. How you choose to respond is up to you. But instead of giving up, try giving your discontentment to Me. Are you afraid that I will disappoint you if you place your life and circumstances in My hands? I’ve always been faithful. My Holy Spirit has flooded your heart with My love and security. When you open your heart to Me, placing your hopes and expectations in Me, I have promised you a wonderful love relationship with Me—the One who never disappoints.”

 

God’s Word reassures us and encourages us to respond in a way that draws us closer to Him. He is, after all, the only One who never disappoints.

 

Here’s my grateful prayer response to His Word:

 

“Lord, You’ve never been the source of my disappointment. I recognize my misplaced blame and the power of Your name and character. At times I’ve let my fear be a stumbling stone that keeps me from the joy and peace You’ve planned for me. I can so easily base my faith on past experiences: broken relationships, unfulfilled hopes, or unrealized dreams. Like so many, I ignore the truth, trusting instead in myself or others as if that will smooth my path and bring the needed answers I want. But that’s not what I desire. I know You are the only way to a hope-filled life. If I stumble, let me stumble into Your arms. You are the One who never disappoints, and You will never disappoint me.”

 

Here are a few verses from God’s Word that verify His care for us in times of disappointment:

 

Those who believe in him will never be disappointed. Romans 9:33 TLB

 

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:5 NLT

 

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NLT

 

After reflecting on His Words, my heart will rest on this truth:

 

Disappointment is only an appointment to trust God more.

 

Here’s a challenge for you today to help you plan your response the next time you face disappointment:

 

Write down any recent disappointments you’ve experienced. How did you react? Do you see any misplaced expectations? One by one, turn them over to God and ask Him to renew your life with joy. How would you like to respond to disappointments the next time you encounter them?

 

¹© 2022, Rebecca Barlow Jordan, adapted from Day-votions® with Your Faithful Father: 90 Days with the One Who Wants to Meet All Your Needs, All Rights Reserved. Parts of this blog post were first published on Rebecca’s blog.

 

How Does Living on a Boat Parallel Spiritual Disciplines?

 

I’m sitting at the little desk in our sailboat as I write this. Inches away I see a systems panel covered in lights and switches. Their labels include, “Fore Deck Lt,” “Courtesy Lts,” “Sanx,” “Grey Water,” “Blower 2,” “Propane Valve,” “Reverse Polarity,” “Nav Inst,” and my favorite—”Collision Avoid.”

 

The mass of switches and red lights intimidated me when we first moved aboard the Makana 2 in 2018. I didn’t know which ones should be on or off while moored at the dock or when we headed to bed at night. I didn’t have a clue about which ones to use only under sail. To be honest, I was afraid of touching them lest I accidentally flick a switch that would result in disaster (ie: turn off the fridge or freezer).

 

While I understand more than I did four years ago, there’s still much I don’t understand about how this vessel’s systems operate. That’s not the switch panel’s problem. It’s mine. I have neither spent time studying the operator’s manual nor exploring the wires, fuses, and hoses hidden behind panels and doors. If I were to do that, my understanding and confidence would grow.

 

In some ways, my experience with the Makana 2 parallels my Christian faith.

I’ll admit, there’s much I don’t understand about theology, prayer, the Holy Spirit, or the end times. I don’t understand why God allows tragedies that bring unspeakable pain or why He doesn’t just step in and obliterate evil or why He doesn’t answer my prayers on other people’s behalf.

 

Not possessing a complete understanding of spiritual things shouldn’t surprise me. After all, God is infinitely bigger and smarter than me. His methods and His mind are a mystery. “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.’ For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

 

But here’s the thing: the more time I spend reading God’s Word, the more clarity I find. Digging into its depths helps me discover truths that build my confidence in its Author. Exploring Scriptures in context grows my understanding of His thoughts, and trust grows.

 

I know I would benefit by investing time and energy into learning about the Makana’s operating systems. I just need to do it. The same is true in for spiritual disciplines. We know we’d benefit by investing time and energy into studying God’s Word. We just need to do it.

#bgbg2

Finding Hope When Tragedy Strikes Again

 

The news of a gunman slaughtering 21 innocents broke like another tragic wave on the shore of humanity. It left us stunned but, sadly, not surprised. The prophet Jeremiah observed mankind’s desperate state more than 600 years before Christ walked this earth, and he wrote,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) It seems nothing has changed when it comes to the evil of which mankind is capable.

 

Some on the shore succumb to the wave’s force, and it sucks them into a sea of hopelessness. Well-intentioned responses such as, “God will bring something good from this,” offer little solace to the one who’s drowning in despair. Sometimes a hug or a listening ear mean more.

 

I’ve been slow to respond on social media to this wave because I didn’t want to throw out a lifeline fraught with easy answers. Life is messy and pain is real and the waves just keep coming. So how can we respond in the face of yet another one?

 

I believe N.T. Wright nailed it when he wrote, “The only thing to do is to hold the spectacular promises in one hand and the messy reality in the other and praise Yhwh anyway.”

 

I hold messy reality in one hand: Uvalde, Ukraine, inflation, family and ministry concerns. I hold God’s spectacular promises in the other. Here are three that I’m finding particularly meaningful today.

 

  • “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 ESV)
  • “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)
  • “It is the Lordwho goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV)

 

In the face of sorrow and unanswered questions, God’s promises restore hope. Let’s cling to them and pray through them and praise God that the story is not finished yet.

 

What spectacular promise brings solace to your heart today?

 

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