Thank you Lord for You are good, powerful, and full of love. You are a never failing God and are always with us even when we don’t feel it. You alone can move mountains, You alone offer true healing for our bodies and souls and You are great and Your mercy endures forever. You can turn the table on any situation and constantly take beauty out of the ashes in our lives so we thank You for the things that are yet to come.
This morning when I awoke, I made myself stay in bed until I listed everyone in my family and thanked God for each thing that is good about their lives. Then I thanked Him for all the other blessing that have touched my life. It was like rebooting the hard drive of a computer. Negative thoughts and worries diminished and as the day wore on; my heart was light with the knowledge that God has blessed my family in so many ways. I stopped comparing my blessings to everyone else’s and my mind didn’t focus on the things that I still want… I was just thankful. What a difference it made.
Even in the darkest trial, God is there and he is weaving a tapestry out of our hurt and loss that will be lovely to behold if we will just trust and release things to Him. So often, our blessings get buried beneath daily stress and we forget to be thankful.
I wonder if that’s how Joseph from the book of Genesis, got through his 13 years of captivity? Did he focus on what was right rather than what was wrong…did he stay thankful in spite of his situation?
If we could have been a fly on the wall in Joseph’s dungeon, before we knew how his story ended we would think Joseph had been abandoned by God and we would wonder why Joseph would have anything to be thankful for. But we know the rest of Joseph’s story and he had much to be thankful for and boy was God good to him even though it was impossible to see during the hardship.
Many of us are in the midst of trials and hardship of varying types; In the middle of the storm think less about your trial and more about your blessings, hang on to God, and don’t give up…you don’t know the end of the story but God does. Verbalize thanks for your blessings, whether you have one or many and wait on God and see that he is good and that his mercy does endure forever.
To read more on Joseph’s struggles please read an earlier entry “Never Never Give Up.”
By Rhonda Shelford Jansen
I woke up this morning mindful that this afternoon I would find out if I got the job I’d been wanting. If I get it, the family budget would receive a much needed boost and maybe we could take a vacation this summer. I laid there willing myself to think about something else, my to-do list is always a good distraction, so I pondered all the things that needed to be done.
However, my mind wondered back to the possibilities of landing the job. I’d been told there were three of us in the final round of interviews and all were qualified. I had no idea who the other two contenders were or what relationship they already had with the business. I felt a whisper of dislike towards them, after all they were my competitors, and I wanted to win, I wanted this job. A certain amount of possessiveness toward the job surfaced in me, after all I’d spent a lot of time praying about it, the job had to be mine. My husband and children were excited about it. The job was such a perfect fit with my background, I had years of experience in the field and felt very comfortable within this arena.
The final interview had taken place the week before and because the company wanted to move ahead quickly they were making the decision on the right candidate within a week’s time. I’d been told they would call Monday by 4 pm. Trying to minimize my anxiety level I kept busy all weekend attempting to avoid thinking about whether the job was mine.
Unfortunately, my mind kept wondering into the dark place it goes when I am anxious. I began to over-analyze everything, and I found myself replaying my interviews over and over. I thought about all the right and wrong things I’d said; more of the wrong than the right. I thought about how nervous and stiff I was with my crooked, twitchy smile making more than one appearance. Some answers I gave were a little long winded while others were too vague, but it was my nervousness that was the biggest negative, according to my introspection. I really wanted this job, therefore I was more nervous. Just before the interview I prayed, took deep breathes, and thought about relaxing my posture and mind, to no avail.
So today, Monday morning, in an attempt to keep busy, I went out to do errands. While driving down the freeway my mind kept returning to its anxious, over thinking ways. To combat this negative thought pattern I started to pray out loud, “Lord you know my heart, I’m trying so hard to do the right thing for my family, I love you and want to honor you in what I do, please answer my prayers for this job.” While I prayed my spirit calmed and an old truth warmed its way into my mind. The truth is that I can’t do anything to bring God’s answer to my prayers. It’s not my good intentions that cause God to answer my prayers. It’s not my righteous life. My only contribution to an answered prayer is that they be prayed earnestly, with a believing heart. When we pray God does not discriminate between prayers, if they are honest, earnest, and come from a believing heart, he will answer. After all, God answers the prayers of the priest and the prostitute.
I realized that God will answer my prayer because he is God, not because of who I am, or because I try so hard to do the right thing. Realizing I could not control God’s answer to my prayer by my actions released me from some of my anxieties. I had done my imperfect best, and God would do the rest according to his wisdom. I let go of the job and a chain reaction took place in my thought pattern, my anxiety subsided.
The call didn’t come on Monday, it came Tuesday afternoon. I didn’t get the job. At first I felt a certain amount of disbelief, then I felt a surge of disappointment accompanied by a good dose of insecurity. But these emotions were short lived. They were replaced with the knowledge that God had answered my prayer, the job was not mine. I had prayed, “Lord, where do you want me, please show me.”
I regularly attend a Wednesday morning Bible study and felt an extra desire to be there the next day. At the end of class a lovely women who had been attending for a few months announced that she wouldn’t be able to attend any longer because she had a new job…….yep, you guessed it; she had MY JOB. I felt a sting in my spirit and that sneaky snake of jealousy and insecurity crept in. She went on to talk about how she had been praying for a job and needed one so desperately. She talked about how the closer to God she got the greater his blessings were. Where did that leave me, I wondered?
The snake was slithering its way into my heart when I remembered that God answers the prayers of the righteous man, and men are made righteous through Jesus, not by their actions. My prayers were prayed with sincerity and with a believing heart, so God answered my prayers. The job was not mine and who am I to question God. The woman said she felt God had a specific purpose for her in her new position, she was excited to be used by God. But Lord, I thought, where does this leave me? The answer; still in His loving hands. Psalm 46:10 popped into my mind. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” This verse reminded me to rest in the wisdom of God.
I ended up being happy for her too … after several minutes, well maybe days, of internal struggle. Okay Lord, I thought, the job is hers for a divine reason.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
By Debora Shelford Hobbs
Have you ever observed a garden in winter? It shows nothing of the life and beauty once held in summer but instead appears empty, dried up, and abandoned. Spring eventually comes and the gardener turns and works the soil; he plants new seed and fertilizes diligently. With the gardener’s care, little by little the seed begins to sprout, displaying new life and new hope for a full crop of beauty.
Many of us are in the winter of our lives; not so much in age but in circumstance. The heart feels empty and abandoned and hopes and dreams of a beautiful crop seem all but lost.
No matter how long our winter has dragged on and no matter how long we have felt abandoned, God is holding out hope for a new season of growth and life. He takes the withered old compost from seasons past and works it into the soil and that old dead past causes the soil to be richer and promises an even better crop in the future.
If the farmer doesn’t prepare the soil by tilling, weeding, and fertilizing, a new and beautiful crop will not appear. Likewise, we must open the gate of our dead heart to allow God to till its soil; softening and preparing it for a new direction and season of prosperity. Tilling amounts to slicing the earth and if the earth could feel, it would probably hurt. The same is true of our hearts; as we open them to the Lord it can hurt and be scary but it’s essential to finding the abundant blessings that God has in store for you and me. The difference between us and a real garden is that we have the power to allow the gardener to do His work…or not. God allows us to keep the garden gate rusted and locked and continue on as a barren, tired, wasteland; stuck in despair.
If we can look at circumstances no matter what they are and ask God to begin showing us truth about what He can do with the damage we will slowly begin to sprout new seeds of life in our broken hearts. He specializes in restoration and loves taking beauty from the ashes of our lives. Open wide the heart’s gate and allow our God and King to work his wonders out of the hurt and pain of life. We will never be disappointed.
A prayer of healing: “Lord, I hate where I’m at in life but I ask You to help me look at my circumstances as a new start; as a new direction in my relationship with You and in my life. Help me to understand that all things do work together for good and no pain is wasted in You. Change my heart, change my attitude, and help me to see life through your eyes. Fill my heart with gratefulness. Bring restoration into every area of my life, set my gifts and talents free to be used to their fullest extent. Bring prosperity and success into every area where the enemy has sought to devour. Lord, I feel like a dead garden or a desert. Help me to look at my life with new eyes and to open myself to you so that you can soften the soil of my heart and grow me into a beautiful garden becoming more useful and better because of my trials and despair. Help me to humble myself before Your throne and may Your will be done in my life. Show me where I need to grow and change and forgive me for resisting your holy spirit. Show me how to navigate life, give me wisdom beyond measure and fill me with hope and joy. Make my life into a beautiful garden that honors you in all things regardless of my circumstances. Please use my pain to encourage others and in my weakness, please show yourself mighty.” In Jesus name, Amen.
When we are in a place of despair it is a matter of spiritual life or death to find a way to spend time in the word and in prayer but when we need it most; is when we rarely feel like it. Sometimes we are just trying to survive…but that will never deliver hope. Remember to bind the enemy from keeping you from the word and prayer and spring every trap that he has laid for you in the name of Jesus. If you have to get away from everyone by going for a drive or a walk or locking yourself in a closet…whatever it takes, get to praying, to praising, and open your bible and seek God for his restoration in your life. He will deliver but He always wants us to do our part, even when it hurts.
Here are a few verses to memorize and grasp on to. Loose these verses into your life and circumstances.
Vs 3: …He comforts all who mourn and provides for those who grieve in Zion, He bestows on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, and the oil of gladness, instead of mourning. A garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Vs 7: Instead of their shame, my people will receive a double portion and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance.
Psalms 103:2-5: Bless the Lord o my soul and forget not all His benefits. Who forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. Who saves my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion. Who satisfies my desires with good things so that my youth is renewed like the eagles.
By Rhonda Jansen