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”

Our Powerful and Faithful God Breathes Hope Through His Creation

Opening our ears to the sweet symphony of nature, our eyes to its calming palette of color, and our understanding to our Creator’s faithful care cannot but give us hope in times of uncertainty. Its steady rhythm reminds us that some aspects of our lives are not affected by the chaos and destruction of the coronavirus.

God’s Almighty power created the heavens and the earth, and it is so evident He is still in control. He faithfully brings the change of seasons, no matter what is happening in this world.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
Genesis 8:22

Every moment He faithfully watches over and cares for His creatures. Every morning the birds start an early chorus of praise to God. Unfettered by the cares of this world, it’s like their focus is fixed on their Creator alone.

“Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away
in barns, and yet your
heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more
valuable than they?

Can any one of you by worrying
add a single hour to your life?”
Matthew 6:26-27

No, we can’t add a single hour to our lives or others’ lives by worrying, but I see and hear worry everywhere these days. In my own heart. In the eyes and voices of so many. Behind the tough exteriors of those who try so hard to be strong. In the text of our young grandson when he heard I was sick again and was being tested for Covid, how he expressed his worries of me as high risk and how they were praying. When he found out the test was negative, his words soothed my soul, “God has a plan for you and it doesn’t stop now.”

Yes, God has a plan for us. Even in the midst of uncertainty, sickness, and loss. We may rebel and think our plan would be better, but it’s not. There is going to be suffering and dying, cold and hunger, and loss of all kinds in this world. Do we always understand it? No. Can we make sense out of it? No. Can we run our lives better? No. From our side things look like a mess, like the threads on the underside of a weaving, but what God sees is the total picture of His plan, beautiful and glorious beyond compare. And we are included in that plan and never forgotten. We are the ones He calls much more valuable than the birds of the air He faithfully cares for.

“I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 121:1-2

When you allow your senses to soak in God’s creation, whether outdoors or from your window or doorway ( or even from photos), does it breathe hope into your soul? What does it say to you about God’s faithful character?

All of the bird photos were taken through my tinted office windows.

My view from my office window. A house finch pair built a nest! The little ones have now hatched and are being fed.

Here is Papa!

“Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.”
Song of Solomon 2:12

The sun feels much warmer than the snow!

On the same day, this robin was also trying to keep warm.

This same robin devours seeds like he’s starving. He throws out the safflower seeds and seeks for the sunflower chips. Maybe when it’s warmer, he’ll check out the worms and bugs?

A chipping sparrow has been visiting.

The goldfinches left for a while after the big snow we had on Easter, but now they’re back. Hooray!

Maker of the Stars
by Demetrios Leiloglou

“I sat and watched the evening sky as it turned shades of red
One by one the stars came out like diamonds in a sea of black
And as I started to count them all I realized they had no end
That’s the way it must be with God’s love… the Maker of the Stars…”

God Is Greater Than Whatever We Face in 2018

Are you discouraged or afraid of what awaits us in this new year? Perhaps while others are singing “Happy New Year,” you are entering this year with worry about what’s around the corner for us in this journey of life.

I think being a worrywart is my life’s default mode. It can weigh my heart down so much that I have trouble remembering how strong God is to overcome the giants blocking the way. I compare myself with the giants instead of comparing the giants with God.

I’m learning step by step to trust God and His all-sufficient grace more than the giants. And more than my feelings. My feelings can sway with the wind and can be misleading. They can cause me to cower and curl up in a ball of defeat when the giants overshadow me. They tell me that God has forgotten to be merciful in this world.

Not true! God’s Almighty power, love, and faithfulness never sway or change. God is loyal, constant, and steadfast. He was faithful in the past, He will be faithful today, and He will remain faithful in our future. He still has this whole world and every single heart in His hands.

So does He condemn us when we do worry? Never! There is NO condemnation in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) Others may tell us worry is a sin and we should “just have faith,” making our burdens even greater. But God knows how weak and frail we humans can be. He understands us more than anyone. His patience with us is bottomless. His love for us never lessens when we slip into worry or distrust of His plans.

Isn’t His love amazing?! No matter what we do or don’t do, He just keeps on drawing us into His love and inviting us to surrender our anxiety and burdens into His Almighty Hands and His all-sufficient grace.

“Come to Me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

We cannot know what will happen this year, and it’s a good thing we don’t. But God always knows. He has plans for each and every one of us. Plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Plans to give us a hope and a future.

Does this mean there won’t be struggles, losses, or pain in our lives? Definitely not. Here we will have trouble. But the wonder is that even when it “feels” like God’s designs are against us, the absolute truth is that He is still working out everything towards our good.

The hope and future He plans to give us may seem a long time coming. But it will come, because He is a faithful Promise-Keeper. Someday our journeys here will end in a most glorious conclusion.

Meanwhile, may we take His hand and follow Him wherever He may lead us in this year, remembering that He has promised to be our refuge through all the storms in life and our Almighty strength in all our weakness. We are safe in His hands. He has proved that in the past, and He will continue to be our help today and in the future.

“God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable],
A very present and well-proved help in trouble.”
Psalm 46:1 AMP

“You Raise Me Up”
by Josh Groban

“When I am down and, oh, my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until You come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on Your shoulders;
You raise me up to more than I can be…”