Butterflies of Hope: I Am With You Always, My Child

As I walked a nature trail towards the beginning of summer, memory triggers swept through my heart and left me desolate, alone, and afraid. Help me, God! I’m sinking fast!

Lift your eyes and look around you, My child.

I tried so hard to see His love and care in His creation around me, but still those memories of past pain and betrayal kept sucking the life out of my soul.

I sat down on a bench, tears ready to gush forth, my soul pleading for strength and comfort. My eyes lifted and my heart gasped with wonder. A butterfly flew in front of me along with God’s whisper – I am with you always, My child. Then another one flew by as if to confirm God’s promise.

As I walked back to my van, my heart was still heavy with grief from the past, but a hope arose in my soul that God would again get me through this tough spot.

God graciously continued to send me reminders throughout the summer. When my heart was despondent as I drove home from the doctor, one flew a couple of feet in front of the windshield. As I reclined in my chair, feeling sick and drained of energy, one fluttered past the window. And many other times, as one flew by, I had to smile as a calmness seeped into my soul.

One day I told some of my grandkids how when I see a butterfly it’s like God is whispering to me – I am with you always, My child.

“Boy, Grandma, He must have really been yelling it then when we went to the butterfly house!” Lexi said.

One of my counted blessings this summer was when one of my granddaughters, Lexi, asked me to go to the butterfly house with her. 🙂

Some butterflies had broken wings. God helps the broken to fly! 🙂

Butterflies convey God’s message of hope to me, and I’m awed how often He sent them to me this summer. But I’m trying to remember His promise isn’t any less true when the butterflies don’t come.

“And be sure of this:
I am with you always,
even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20b

The promise of God being with us doesn’t come and go like a butterfly. He has promised He will be with us, and He will be, whether or not we can feel it.

Yes, it can be so hard to grasp and hold onto the promise of God’s faithfulness with our weak and shaky hands. But it’s a comfort that even when we can’t hold on, He won’t let us go. He will hold us up with His victorious right hand!

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 NLT

“Faithful”
by Sarah Reeves

“Even when I cannot see, You are moving
Even when I cannot hear, You are singing over me
Even when I can’t hold on, You won’t let me go
You are faithful, You are faithful

Hallelujah
My soul will sing
Hallelujah
You are good to me
You are faithful, always faithful…”

Faith and Fear Can Co-Exist

“When I am afraid,
I will trust in You.”
Psalm 56:3 HCSB

Feeling crushed by enemies too hard for him, David asked God for His free, rich mercy only He can give.

This same David bravely conquered a lion and a bear and the giant Goliath in his youth. Yet now he admits how afraid he is. The enemies who seek to destroy him are relentless in pursuing him.

He didn’t deny the presence of fear in his heart, but he found courage in trusting God to do what could not be done by human power alone.

“He feared, but that fear
did not fill the whole area of his mind,
for he adds, ‘I will trust in Thee.’
It is possible, then, for fear and faith
to occupy the mind at the same moment.”
Charles Spurgeon

When painful memories get triggered, panic screams through my veins. I want to run and flee, but my feet feel stuck in quicksand that sucks me down and threatens to swallow me up. Fear fills the whole area of my mind, especially when it hits me without warning. It can be hard to think straight and to remember I can trust Jesus’ outstretched hand of rescue.

I have to talk myself through it. Where is this coming from? Why am I feeling this way? Am I in real danger here, or is it a hyper-sensitive reaction triggered from past painful experiences?

Traumatic events can embed themselves in our brains, and our bodies automatically react when these memories are triggered. We may feel helpless to control it, and it sometimes takes time to talk ourselves through what is real in the present moment. Even as we desperately cry out to Jesus, trusting and believing He is the only One who can and will rescue us, our bodies can be shaking with fear and anxiety. We may feel fear, but that does not mean we have no faith.

I have heard some Christians say fear and faith cannot co-exist, and I figured anyone knows better than I do. So I would beat myself up (and still do sometimes) – “If you can’t face this fear or get rid of fear entirely, you must not have faith.” But God is step by step teaching me that fear and faith can co-exist, and we don’t have to feel shame about the fear that still sometimes lingers on in our hearts and minds.

Jesus keeps loving us no matter what. It’s not about the measure of our love for Him. It’s about His perfect love for us! Even when our faith seems nonexistent or is dim. Even when the thunder of fear makes it hard to hear His voice. Even when we struggle with believing He is with us in the storm. We may waver, but His love never does. No matter where we are, He is whispering, “I’m here, Child. I understand your fears. I catch your tears. I will always love you.”

“Praise You In This Storm”
by Casting Crowns

Fighting From a Standpoint of Victory Already Won

victory-in-jesus

Satan knows exactly where our vulnerable spots are. He is a vindictive monster who wants to crush any hope we have. The closer we come to Jesus, the harder he tries to lure us away from Him.

Last week I read a Bible verse that often triggers bad memories. You may think – How could a Bible verse do that? How could God’s Word of love bring hurt?

It doesn’t. But some people abuse God’s Word by putting their own interpretation on it to justify hurting us. Like the minister who abused me did. When I come across this verse, my body and mind react. Fear grasps my heart in a vise-grip, and I want to run for my life. All the muscles in my body tense up, and the nausea rises up into my throat. A whirlwind of screaming and crying from a deep place in my heart press against my throat and eyes.

I shoved it all down and numbed myself to it, but the next day it came up again. I knew I had to address it and fight it with the truth.

I begged God to take away those memories and help me focus on His truth as He meant it to be. Not on the memories of how a man twisted its meaning to give a stamp of approval to his sinful lust.

God graciously reminded me:

♥ To read His Word through His perspective, never man’s. His Word is meant to instruct us in the way of His love, salvation, and healing. It is NEVER meant to manipulate, to threaten, or to give an excuse to sinful actions.

♥ To fight against the enemy and his deceitful tactics from a standpoint of victory already won by Him, not for a standpoint of victory. Fighting for victory or fighting from victory. Too often I wear myself out fighting for a victory of my own. I need to fight from the solid ground of God’s victory over Satan. The enemy can never get a foothold there.

♥ That my heart is in His safe hands. He has access to every deep part of my brokenness, and He will continue to heal me layer by layer. Each time a painful memory is triggered, He makes me stronger in Him.

"For the enemy has pursued me,
  crushing me to the ground,
  making me live in darkness
  like those long dead.
  My spirit is weak within me;
  my heart is overcome with dismay.
  I remember the days of old;
  I meditate on all You have done;
  I reflect on the work of Your hands.
  I spread out my hands to You;
  I am like parched land before You."
  Psalm 143:4-6 HCSB

The enemy will pursue us and even crush us to the ground. Our hearts will faint within us and be overcome with anxiety and fear. But God…

I love those two words, don’t you? But God has already defeated the enemy. Yes, as long as we live, Satan is never going to give up, but God has given us a standpoint of victory we can fight from. A safe place where the devil has no access to.

“The Champion of Love”
by The Cathedrals

“He is higher than the highest
Greater than the great
No one will ever take His crown away
He is more mighty than the mightiest
He reigns from above
He’s the all-time, undisputed, undefeated
Champion of Love”