Reflections: Past, Present, and Future

Looking to the Past, Present, and Future

As I reflect on this past year, often my heart was so deeply troubled about things that are happening in our nation and in this world. The truth that often kept me going is that God is still in control. He always has been and He forever will remain the King of the World. We don’t always see visible evidences of His love and grace, and it sometimes seems that evil prevails. But God will always be the ultimate Victor. He’s got us. He will never abandon us. He is always with us, working towards our good.

As I gaze into the new year, I know God will always remain faithful. He has helped me this far and He will hold me up through whatever happens this year. My desire is to more deeply trust Him and His plan and to fully embrace His unconditional love. The more I embrace His love, the more naturally love will pour out to others around me.

As for the present, I want to embrace every moment. I want to open my eyes more to the blessings right in front of me, the beauty God gives each day.

Past, present, future. No matter what happened or will happen to us, God’s faithful love endures forever. We may not always “feel” like He loves us, but this truth still stands. May we hang onto this hope each day!

“Jesus Christ is the same
yesterday, today, and forever.”
Hebrews 13:8

Most Visited 2018 Blog Posts

Sometimes when people hear I write blog posts, they ask, “How many followers do you have?” I shrug my shoulders and say I don’t know.

Years ago, I was too concerned about numbers, and I still fall into that trap sometimes. People approval still lurks in my heart far too much. I remain a work in progress…

Though I don’t check anymore how many followers I have, I do once in a while check which posts are read the most. It’s evident there are many hurting souls who need hope in this broken world. Who long to feel like they matter. Who long to feel understood and not feel so alone.

This 2015 post has been the most read post for the past three years. We may feel so broken, like we’re not worth anything, but God loves cracked pots. His love can shine through our brokenness!

God’s Love Can Shine Through Our Brokenness

This next 2014 post has been the second most read post for the past two years. In 2018, it nearly tied for 1st. Questions I still sometimes ask God. It seems I daily need to be reminded of His whispers of reassurance to these doubts and fears that trouble me. I love God’s compassion and patience with us! He invites us to ask Him anything, and He never condemns us! There is no one who knows us and understand us like He does!

God Knows Us Better Than We Know Ourselves

My Hope For Each Of Us
May We Remind Each Other Often

He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands

On New Year’s Day, a song came to my heart – “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” I listened to it on YouTube and found another rendition of it. I still love the traditional song, but I love this one even more, because it speaks of how good God is, how His love will never stop, and how every person of every color is wonderfully made and precious in His sight.

I have watched and listened to this song several times since then, and every time it makes me want to dance and sing with these young people. I’d do it if I could without getting short of breath or coughing. 🙂 But I still do it in my heart! And each time, God breathes strength into my soul. Yes! We are in His hands of love this year and always! What better hands could we be in, right?

When It’s Hard To Be Thankful

 

It isn’t always easy to be thankful, is it? When physical or emotional pain and/or losses overwhelm us, it can be hard to see through our tears or focus our minds on blessings right in front of us. 

Hagar was an alien and a slave. When her mistress found herself barren, she was given to Abraham to bear a child for her. But dissension escalated, especially after Sarah birthed a child herself. Sarah no longer wanted Hagar’s son around her son Isaac.

Hagar and Ishmael were rejected and sent away to wander in the hot and dry desert with only some water in a skin and some food to sustain them. But the water emptied…

She couldn’t bear to see her son suffer and die of thirst, so she put him under one of the bushes and distanced herself.

Dehydrated and devastated of hope, she sat down and sobbed. Did no one hear her and her son? Did no one care?

“What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.” Hope heralded in by an Angel of God.

Someone did care. She wasn’t alone. God heard Ishmael’s cries. He heard Hagar’s cries. He hears the cries of the needy.

“For He will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.”
Psalm 72:12

God lifted her drooping head and opened her tear-swollen eyes to see it. A well. Right in front of her.

Hagar got up, filled her water skin, and gave her son a drink.

We, too, may sometimes feel empty and hopeless. Spiritually parched. Physically exhausted. Blinded by the tears of our grief over the losses and struggles in our lives. How can we ever be thankful?

If we look into our discouraged hearts or at our bleak circumstances (or that of others), we will surely despair of hope. We won’t see the well of blessings God has placed in front of us. We won’t see that God really is good and is full of love and compassion towards us. We won’t see that He actually is for us, not against us.

God longs to be gracious to us. He tenderly lifts our weary hearts to see His bottomless well of love. He invites us to drink, long and freely.

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him!”
Isaiah 30:18

Jesus’ love and compassion will never empty. They will always be more than enough for us. No matter what. He heard Hagar’s and Ishmael’s cries, and He will hear our cries. He didn’t forget them, and He won’t forget us.

Precious Lord, You know the heart of every person. You know the heavy burdens weighing us down. Please lift us and carry us through this Thanksgiving season and always. Open the eyes of our hearts to Your never-emptying well of love and empower us to drink from it. Send fullness in spite of empty places we feel and strength and peace amid the struggles of this life. Please help us to truly believe You are good, You are love, and You are for us. Thank You for Your patience with us and for never condemning us. Help us to express our gratitude to You by releasing our burdens into Your hands and trusting Your plan for us. Open our eyes, too, to see all that we still have and still are able to do. Thank You so much for Your unconditional love, Your endless patience with us, and Your ever-flowing and over-flowing grace!

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
by Chris Tomlin

God Remembers and Cares About Our Tears

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
You have recorded each one in Your book.
Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call.
This I know: God is for me.”
Psalm 56:8-9

Sad and alone. Sitting on a step with my arms crossed and leaning on my knees and my head hanging, I felt a lick of sympathy on my face. Someone had noticed my pain. Our dog had wriggled his way underneath my arms.

He comforted me like no one else did or could do at the time. As a kid growing up on a farm, dogs often were my best friends. They sat with me. They didn’t have to say a word. They just soaked in my sorrows as if they were crying with me.

Yes, dogs have the amazing God-given ability to sense when something is wrong and to comfort us. To be our faithful and devoted companions. It can never compare with the comfort God is ready to give us, but in hindsight I now believe that it was His way of caring for me even when I didn’t know He cared.

Every single tear we shed has meaning to Him. Whether they run from our eyes or make pools in our hearts. From birth to the present and on into the future. Every. Single. Tear.

God remembers our every sorrow as if He kept each tear in a bottle. He records each and every one in His book of remembrance. And I believe God adds His own tears right alongside ours. He cares that deeply.

God may not have a literal bottle or book, but He remembers every single thing that happens in our lives, including our suffering. He is a tender-hearted Father to us, a God who feels with us and weeps with us (Exodus 3:7John 11:33–35).

We are not alone, even when it feels like it. Many times in my life, I wondered where God was when I needed Him. But looking back, I now realize He was with me all along. Crying with me. Yes, He could have stopped bad things from happening to me. But He knew I would learn a deeper compassion and empathy if I personally experienced suffering myself.

God is for us. Always. He knows each of us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we need to experience in order to better empathize with others who suffer.

I wasn’t always aware of this. There have been more fist-raised or curl-up-in-a-ball moments than I can count. I could see no purpose whatsoever in people violating me. But God is helping me to realize that if I hadn’t experienced the pain, I could not cry with others like He cries with me.

Do you feel sad and alone? Like no one cares? It may feel like it, and surely, the devil wants us to believe that. But it’s not true. I know it’s a rough road to recovery. When our trust is so shattered, it’s not easy to believe anyone cares, even that God does. We may become terrified to open our hearts to anyone, out of fear of being hurt again. But there are those who do care. If you are hurting, please know I care.

Above all, there is One who has unconditional love and endless compassion towards us. He yearns for us to run to Him and freely confide in Him. He will never, ever hurt us, condemn us, or reject us. He will lovingly apply His healing balm to all the hurts in our hearts. He never misses a tear we shed but cares and collects every single one in His bottle of remembrance, adding His own with them.

“He Knows My Name”
by Maranatha Singers

“He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and He hears me when I call.”