Discouragement and Remembering God Is on Our Side

I have been overwhelmed with discouragement at all the hatred against people who are different than we are, division even between Christians, and violence against other people and establishments. We can so easily get caught up in all the chaos and find ourselves being more judgmental than prayerful. Where is all the love and compassion Jesus gives us and desires for us to do likewise?

Are we forgetting our mission? To know Jesus and make Him known? To grow and act more like Jesus? To love like Jesus?

I forget this mission, too. My heart gets so consumed with fretting about what will further happen in the coming days and years. All those “what-ifs” clog up my mind and distort my focus.

But this morning, God used a blogging friend’s post to reorient my perspective and calm my heart:

What if God were not on my side?

“It probably won’t alter your situation, but there’s a very good chance that those eight words will calm your heart and reorient your perspective, right then and there. In these uncertain times, that can make all the difference in the world.”

Lois Flowers – How to Calm the Anxious What-ifs

“What if the LORD
had not been on our side?
Answer, O Israel!”
Psalm 124:1 (GNT) 

As that Psalm continues, we have the answer that without Him we would be swallowed up alive. My faltering heart gained strength as I remembered that God is always on our side, holding our hand when we’re afraid, girding us up with hope and giving us courage to take the next step forward, helping us to trust Him no matter what happens in the future on this earth.

The Lord is with me; 
I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

Psalm 118:6

With this truth in our hearts and minds, we can step forward more like Jesus would. With healing words instead of hurting words. With love instead of hate. With compassion instead of judgment.

“We can’t heal the world today.
But we can begin with
a voice of compassion,
a heart of love,
and an act of kindness.”

Mary Davis

“There’s no other name so sweet as Jesus.
No one ever cared so much for me.
As to shed His precious blood to save me
No one ever cared so much for me
When I see Him face to face up in glory
I will marvel at His nail scarred feet.
And I’ll thank Him for the pain He suffered
Because, He cared so much for me.
There’s no one who cares like Jesus
There’s no friend so precious to me
Who would carry, carry your cross to Calvary
No one ever cared so much for me
There’s no one who cares like Jesus
There’s no friend so precious to me
Who would carry, carry your cross, to Calvary
No one ever cared so much for me
No one ever cared so much for me”

Do We Say We’re Fine When We’re Not?

“I say, ‘I’m fine, yeah, I’m fine,
oh, I’m fine, hey, I’m fine’

But I’m not, I’m broken”
(“Truth Be Told” by Matthew West)

When someone asks you how you are, do you say you’re fine when you’re not? I do. It just pops out like an auto response.

Do you ever wonder why we do that?

After hearing a song by Matthew West, I’ve been trying to dig deeper within myself.

As a pastor’s son, Matthew West grew up feeling he needed to put on an outward appearance that he’s fine. Even when he felt broken inside. Even when things felt out of control.

He learned there were two lies in his life:

  1. We’re supposed to have it all together, so we should put on a smile.
  2. Everybody’s life is perfect except ours, so we should keep our messes, wounds, and secrets safe within us behind closed doors.

As I examine my own heart, I know I often hide behind a smile. Even though I’m aching inside. I’m so tired of following what was deeply rooted in me as a child from church and home that I should keep messes, wounds, and secrets buried in my heart.

Probably the biggest reason I often feel silenced is fear of being judged, rejected, and slandered again. When I told the truth about a minister who abused me, I was not believed in the church and many people heaped me with guilt and shame. When I told who I thought would be lifetime friends the truth, they rejected my truth and abandoned me. Bible verses have been taken out of context and flung at me to tell me how sinful I am.

Another big reason is that I feel my truth doesn’t matter, because I don’t matter. In the church we grew up in, children were not valued as Jesus values them. And because of some abuse at home, too, I felt like I didn’t matter and I was never good enough. God has helped me to learn this is a lie, but it still rears up at unexpected moments when I’m feeling vulnerable.

In his song, Matthew voices that some churches are lacking in welcoming and supporting the hurting. There may be signs to come as we are, but if we lived like that was true, the pews would be crowded.

Jesus wants churches to be places of refuge and safety, not places where we hide our messes and wounds out of fear of judgment and rejection. Not places where hurting people’s burdens are made heavier with shame and guilt.

“Stoop down and reach out
to those who are oppressed.
Share their burdens,
and so complete Christ’s law.”
Galatians 6:2 MSG

Not only in churches, but in various social circles, we’re often afraid to let our truth be told. What will people think? Will they judge me? Will I be hurt again?

The reality is not everyone wants to hear our messes or wounds. Not everyone will care or understand. Not everyone will believe or support us. But that doesn’t make our stories any less true or important.

It has often been my comfort over the years that there is One who already knows the deepest secrets, messes, and wounds of our hearts. He is a faithful Friend, a compassionate Savior, and a caring Supporter who will always understand. There is no failure, no fall, no sin, no deep wound that will ever turn Him away or keep Him from loving us.

“But everyone my Father has given to Me,
they will come. And all who come to Me,
I will embrace and will never turn them away.”
John 6:37 TPT

Are you feeling broken, but don’t dare to share your story? When we leave it behind closed doors, it subconsciously festers and harms ourselves and others. It may not be easy, especially when we meet with resistance and rejection, but through Christ and His strength, we can learn to take the risk anyway. And even if our stories aren’t received by all, there just may be someone who needs to hear it and will feel less alone and more understood.

Truth Be Told
by Matthew West

August Hope Whispers

Messages and chalk creations on lawns and sidewalks or in windows breathe hope as they encourage love and kindness.

Every seed of kindness we plant,

However small, noticed or unnoticed,

Can bloom hope in the heart of a hurting soul,

A soul aching to be loved and cared about.

Every tiny seed planted will grow

And sprinkle seeds to others,

Making a difference in the lives of many.

Lessons from Charlotte’s Web

Recently Charlotte’s Web was on TV, not the animated one, but the one with real life people and animals who talk. It brought back such fond memories. I loved that book as a child!

The right words can change someone’s world for the better.

Kindness unrecognized doesn’t make it any less of a kindness. (When Wilbur was taken back from the fair to the farm, Charlotte died alone at the fairgrounds. She showed kindness from her loving heart, not for recognition.)

Having a true friend is a tremendous thing. (Charlotte had saved Wilbur’s life, and Wilbur wondered what he could do for her. Charlotte told him he has been a friend.)

Acts of kindness have a ripple effect in many lives. (After Charlotte’s kindness to Wilbur, many people started acting kinder to each other.)

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.

Nature is a Retreat of Hope

“All God’s creatures are a unique expression of life,
whether on earth for 100 days or 100 years.”
Anthony Douglas 

Thank you to my brother John for these stunning photos.
(🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂)

Couch’s Spadefoot – Did you know they spend up to 10 months buried underground and come out during the monsoon season to breed?

My, what big ears you have! “The better to hear you with, my dear!” 🙂

Big feet for balancing 🙂

Here in SD, I have only seen one Dove species, the Mourning Dove, but John was able to capture photos of the five main dove species in his area of Arizona.

Common Ground Dove

Eurasian Collared Dove

Inca Dove

Mourning Dove

White-Winged Dove