Monday, February 25, 2013

God is with Us through Painful Transitions in Life

“Surely, as I have planned it, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand”
(Isaiah 15:24).

A few weeks ago my father passed away from cancer.  It was quite a shock, since he died within two weeks of the diagnosis.  This has brought major changes into our lives, particularly for my mother.  Adjusting to being alone after 57 years of marriage is not easy.   She is now downsizing to a smaller apartment which will bring more changes.  But God is working things out in merciful and wonderful ways, and for that we are truly thankful.

In his book Nearing Home, Billy Graham says, “God designs transitions and provides the grace to embrace what follows.”  Those words bring me great comfort, although I am not always happy with the transitions God has for me. Pain and illness bring many transitions, yet God has an ordained plan for my life that He has purposed from the beginning.  He will provide the grace to not only survive it but to accept it and to readjust.

God’s Word is filled with lives of transition.  Moses went from prince to shepherd to leader of Israel. Abraham left his homeland and became a nomad to follow God. The disciples gave up their livelihoods and relationships for Jesus to the point of death.  These examples and many others in Scripture must have been difficult, yet we know the blessings that resulted from them.

Living life with God is never stagnant.  Change will come, but His grace and presence are with us.  Every transition provides an opportunity to see more of His power and strength in our lives.

As I help my mom move on to a new phase, I need to be willing to do the same.  Whatever transitions I have yet to face may not be easy, but they are bringing me to my final destination of perfection and endless joy – and that’s a transition I am ready to make.

Prayer:  O Lord, you have ordained my days before I was even born.  Give me a positive and trusting attitude as I move through the transitions in my life, knowing that You are working all things for my ultimate good.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

As We Pray to See Signs of Jesus through Our Pain, We Ourselves May Be a Sign

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory. . . Since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart” (II Corinthians 3:18-4:1).

On my more difficult days I sometimes yearn for a personal sign from God.  Some days He speaks through a song, a particular Scripture passage, or through beauty in nature.  Other times He shows Himself through the encouragement of believers.

As children of God we are all instruments of His love and presence to others. I have received cards and emails which have lifted me out of a pit of self-pity and despair.  Phone calls have helped me through depression and discouragement.  The writings of God’s people through Rest Ministries have been a huge encouragement in my life.

A friend of mine wrote the following on Facebook:  “Yesterday on my way into work I prayed that I might see Jesus. As the day went along I made a frightened child laugh, gave a drink of water and chair to an elderly lady, calmed an anxious co-worker and enjoyed the fellowship of those around me. On the way home I thanked God for answering my prayer. All day long I saw Jesus and I saw him in the most unexpected place. I saw him in me.”

I thought about her words and realized that I can be a way Jesus makes Himself visible, not only to others but to myself.  I may not be able to physically bless others the way this friend did, but realizing that God can show Himself through me even in my more limited abilities gives new hope and meaning to my life.  God is confirming that even in in my weaknesses His Spirit is still living and working within me. 

We are all reflections of His glory, so when we look at ourselves in the mirror let’s see a reflection of who and what we truly are in God’s eyes, and not lose heart.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, as I long for You to show Yourself to me today, let me not overlook one of Your most wonderful signs – Your holy presence living in me.  Amen.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Jesus – the Morning Star Shining in the Dark Nights of Pain

“I am the Root and Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16).

Most people, whether chronically ill or not, have experienced sleepless nights for various reasons.  When we have pain, nights seem endless.  Although our days may not be much better, it can be a relief to see some light in the sky and know that our long and sleepless night is finally over.

Jesus is called the Morning Star in three places in Scripture (Numbers 24:17; I Peter 1:19; Revelation 22:16).  The Morning Star is not really a star at all, but the planet Venus.  It is most visible just before sunrise, and is one of the brightest objects in the sky.  The sight of this “star” means that night is nearly over.

What a wonderful representation of Christ.  Whether our dark nights are literal 8-hour ones or whether they are entire seasons of pain and suffering, the light of Jesus shines through.  His light illuminates His truths for us to hold on to during our times of darkness: He will guide us continually (Isaiah 58:11), He is continually with us (Joshua 1:9), His strength is made perfect in our weakness (II Corinthians 12:9), the mind controlled by His Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6), and many more.

Venus is also sometimes called the Evening Star.  It is the Morning Star when it is on one side of the Sun, leading it across the sky and being most visible a few hours before sunrise.  But when Venus is on the other side of the Sun, it is seen shortly after the Sun sets.  At its brightest, it becomes visible right after the Sun goes down.

How much that describes Jesus!  Whether our nights of suffering are ending or just beginning, Jesus is right there with us.  His light will continue to shine on us and for us, lighting up our sky with the glory of His presence.  So some dusk or dawn look for the light of Venus in the sky – and see Jesus.

Prayer:  Thank you, Jesus, that wherever I am in my suffering and pain, You are there.  May the light of Your presence give me hope, perseverance, and faith to bring me through my darkness.  Amen.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

God's Love and More

Forgive the repeat of this writing, but my father passed away last week and I have not had much time to write.  Praise God my dad is home with the Lord now, and for that we are thankful.  I hope to get back to my writing soon.  Blessings to each reader.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (II Thessalonians 2:16).

I always enjoy seeing the colorful Valentine’s Day decorations at this time of year, and it’s an appropriate time to meditate on God’s priceless love. This verse is a favorite of mine because it reminds me not only of His great love for me but of the other blessings I am given as well.
Love and grace: God loved me enough to send Jesus to the cross for me, though I did nothing to deserve or earn this (Ephesians 2:5). His love is everlasting, and no pain, illness, or difficulty can separate me from it (Jeremiah 31:3, Romans 8:39).
Eternal encouragement: God’s support and help will never end. They are as eternal and boundless as He is, and He always hears my cry (Psalm 10:17).

Good hope: When my hope seems gone, He miraculously restores it through Scripture and the comforting power of the Holy Spirit within me (Romans 15:4,13). I have hope for my eternal future, and I am given continual daily hope as I face the frustrations and disappointments of my disabilities.

Strength: I am given God’s divine power to live this life, even in weakness, trials, and pain (II Peter 1:3), and I am constantly protected against Satan’s attacks (II Timothy 4:18).

When I feel overwhelmed and unable to keep going, I remind myself of what I possess. Just as the cheerful reds and pinks of February are a bright spot in the midst of a gray winter, so the comfort of these divine gifts lifts me up on my darkest days. I can make it - through this day and through this life - because of God’s love and more.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, how I praise You for Your unending love, grace, encouragement, hope, and strength. Teach me to live my days in the power of these truths. Amen.