2021 Reflections on the Grace God Still Gives Us

2021 has been a tough year, hasn’t it? Most likely, for all of us in one way or another. Physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. Losses of different kinds. Deep hurts in so many hearts. Uncertainties and fears about the future.

But God… Yes. But God is still with us and is giving us grace to survive. Even when we feel forsaken. Even when we feel weary, troubled, and sorrowful. Even when events in our lives or in the world have crushed us. He is still holding us up with His faithful love and compassion that will never, ever leave us.

This year God is teaching me on a deeper level how crucial it is to:

🩋 Remind my fainting heart to keep my eyes fixed on God’s unchangeable character. All the heartaches and changes in our world may disorient us or depress us, but God will never change and His love will never abandon us.

🌈 “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10 NIV

🩋 Let go of my tight-fisted grip of “needing to fix” situations out of my control. This is so hard to do, isn’t it? But God longs for us to leave these anxieties in His Almighty hands and to believe in His power to heal, redeem, and bring justice in His time and way.

🌈 “This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 NLT

🩋 Diligently seek, pay attention to, and thank God for the beauty and the blessings still surrounding me. There are so many blessings right in front of us that we take for granted each moment, right? The beauty in God’s creation, the strength we’re given with each breath and step we take (whether emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually), the kindness and love many people still do show. And on and on it goes. Even in the midst of chaos and heartaches, God still heaps on the invaluable gift of His grace so freely.

🌈 “And from the overflow of His fullness we received grace heaped upon more grace!” John 1:16 TPT

What has been the toughest trial to you personally this year? What special grace have you been given even in the midst of it, whether in the moment or in hindsight?

Hope That We Never Have to Walk Alone

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“We’re not rich. We never have enough money… We don’t have ANYTHING!” grumbled a little boy.

A wise old man said, “I’ll give you $500 if you give me your eyes.”

“No way! Then I can’t see anything!”

And the man continued offering him more money for each of the boy’s senses and other things in his life. And eventually the little boy decided he was pretty rich after all.

I read this story many years ago, so I’m not sure this is entirely accurate, but the meaning is the same. Aren’t there just so many things we have that we take for granted? Things that are worth more than all the money the whole world can give? Things that open up more opportunities of blessing?

Thanksgiving is a time to count our blessings and be grateful but should not be confined to one day of the year. With each sunrise we wake up to, hope is renewed. We have been spared another day to fulfill God’s purpose for us and anything is possible through God.

This Thanksgiving I am grateful I may get together with a family who loves me, and our table will be filled with nourishing food. But I can’t help but think of those who are so lost and lonely during this time of the year. No family to share love with. Burdened with troubles with nowhere to turn. Maybe they have family, but they are still alone, because their family doesn’t understand them at all. Or there is strife and division – words spoken that hurt so deeply. Or maybe deep sadness sucks the joy away, because there are empty places in their hearts and at their tables.

Sometimes our hearts can get so loaded with oppressive burdens that we have no energy to open our eyes to the blessings we do have. But may we allow hope to enter into our hearts. Hope that we never have to walk alone. Jesus invites us to walk with Him through whatever storms or troubles we are burdened with. He is faithful and He will never leave our side.

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.
For God has said,
‘I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.'”
Hebrews 13:5

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“You’ll Never Walk Alone”
Authors: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
Sung by Celtic Woman

“When you walk through the storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark

Walk on, through the wind
Walk on, through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone”

We will never walk alone when we have a friend in Jesus!

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus!”
Written by Joseph M. Scriven
Music by Charles Crozat Converse
Sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford

“Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.”

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The Harmony of Nature: God’s Promise He Will Not Reject Us

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“Look at the sun shining in the window,” my counselor once said as she reminded me to notice the “little” signs of hope that God is still with us. I looked up at the small window up in the corner of the room. Sunlight streamed in, but I hadn’t noticed it.

It appears every day, so what’s so special about it? How does that give us hope? Sometimes our eyes are either so glued to our troubles that we can’t see past them to the miracles of life and God’s provision, or we are so accustomed to seeing a miracle that we become blinded to see what a gracious gift it is.

When we were on vacation, we took a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River. My husband and I got excited every time we saw a bald eagle. A young man in front of us asked, “Don’t you see them where you live?”

“No… More hawks than eagles…”

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“We see them all the time in Osh Kosh, so I guess I don’t pay attention to them much anymore.”

Little does he know that God sent me a lesson in those words. Blessings surround me, and yet I don’t pay attention to them anymore. I expect they will always be there, and I don’t see the miracle in them being there at all. Our loved ones, our homes, food enough, our freedoms in this country, our senses, and so many other gifts enfold us. And what a wonder that God speaks daily to us in the miracle with which nature runs its course – the sun by day, the moon by night, all creation speaking faithfully to us.

God never fails to keep nature running like clockwork. The sun lightens our world day after day, even through the clouds. Imagine how cold it would be without its rays of warmth. The moon and stars shine in the darkness of the night. The laws of all creation continue day and night. We can always count on the changing of seasons guided by the never-failing love of God. Nature flows faithfully in all its beauty, each and every creature and created thing a nonstop sign that God watches over every little detail and is with us 24-7.

Just as God doesn’t abandon His creation, He never leaves us or pushes us aside. He is as likely to reject us as He is to abolish the laws of nature.

“I am as likely to reject my people Israel
as I am to abolish the laws of nature!”
This is what the Lord says:
“Just as the heavens cannot be measured
and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored,
so I will not consider casting them away
for the evil they have done.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
~ Jeremiah 31:36-37

We can find hope in the harmony of nature. God doesn’t abandon or reject it, but He delights in it and nurtures it. He has promised the same for us, but we need to stop our busy lives and look for it, feast our eyes upon it, and let its hope penetrate our hearts.

More Soul Rest Nature Photos from our Vacation

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21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace