Sustaining: Thankful for God

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. Psalms 36:5-6
Six years ago, Michael and I went to Paris, France for our wedding anniversary.  I remember the first full day, we got on the metro to go to the Eiffel Tower.  We entered a tunnel during the trip into the heart of the city.  As we left the tunnel, the Tower came into view.  We were in a train car with other Americans, and there was an audible gasp as we all looked at it. We left the metro and walked to the tower.  We stood under it and looked up.  The sheer size of it left me speechless and overwhelmed.  I’ve had similar experiences underneath the Arizona sky at night, how the entire sky seems massive, stretching from one end of the earth to the other.  Also, looking out over the ocean on a cruise ship, how tiny the boat feels (which isn’t tiny in the least) compared to the unending water around us. This verse reminds me just how small I am compared to the love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice of God.  It is the tall tower, the evening sky, the expansive ocean.  It’s overwhelming and awe-inspiring.  I am so thankful we serve a God like our God.  
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Sustaining: Thankful for Hope

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus has entered on our behalf.

Hebrews 6: 19-20

I like the idea of hope being an anchor, something that remains steadfast in the winds and waves of life and its cruelties.  But the next part of it is pretty amazing too.

The inner sanctuary was one that not a whole lot of people could get to in Jewish times.  You were going into the presence of God and had to follow a number of rules and requirements in order to be there.

But our hope is that Jesus took care of that.  He is our forerunner.  According to dictionary.com, a forerunner can be a sign or warning of something to come.  It is an advance messenger.

The glorious wonder is that one day we will enter into the inner sanctuary into the presence of God.  Jesus has prepared that way for us.  And we can have a close and intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe.  All the rules and regulations have been taken care of by Jesus.  The invitation is there.

And that’s pretty cool.

Sustaining: Enduring Love

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  – Psalm 100:5

I was reading this passage this week, and the word “endure” stuck out to me.  There are two definitions for the word.  The first is “to remain in existence; last” which I’m sure is the meaning that most people derive from this text.  But the other definition was to “suffer patiently”.

It makes me think about the verse in 2 Peter 3:9 that says:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God wants a relationship with humankind, with you, with your children, with your children’s children’s children.  He wanted a relationship with your grandparents and your great-grandparents.  And he’s suffering patiently, enduring with great love to have that relationship.

My God is amazing in this way.  This love is too great for me to fully understand.  But what I do understand is pretty cool, so I hope you find it as encouraging as it was to me.

Comforting: Finding Purpose

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  – John 9:1-5

When bad things happen, a very common question is “why”.  Whether it’s in search of a scientific answer or a spiritual one, we want an answer.  An answer that can hopefully avoid any further suffering or horrible outcome.  And something that can make us feel better in the meantime.

In Jesus’s time, a lot of people thought suffering was a direct consequence of sin.  In John 9, his disciples reveal this line of thinking when they approached a man who had been born blind.  Who sinned?  His parents or would it be something the man did in his lifetime?

But Jesus flips that script.  Instead, he responds, this happened that the “works of God might be displayed in him.”  And then he heals the man.  It turns out the wrong question was being asked.

Instead of why it should be “what must I do?”  Not what must I do so I don’t suffer, but what must I do in the midst of suffering.  Just like when a job is handed to you or a new life stage, any major event good or bad, I believe as a Christian that it is my responsibility to respond with “What would you have me do with this?”  It’s when I ask that question and seek out the answer with open eyes and heart that I get to see God work through the suffering to reach others.

That man woke up that day not knowing the miracle that he would get to experience.  We don’t know what is in store for us in this life.  But good or bad, I know that God can give purpose to it all.

Comforting: Seeing the Bigger Picture

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”  – Job 42:3

Job had lost everything.  His money, children, reputation, even his marriage was rocky.  And his friends that came to encourage him ended up heaping more coals on the fire by blaming him for all of his misfortune.  Job continuously cries out to God, but only hears the accusations of his friends.

Until the end of the book.  God shows up and speaks to Job.  He reminds Job just who He is and what he has done and can do.  Job realizes that he can’t see the bigger picture, but God can.  And God is working continuously for good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).  All He asks is that we trust.

It’s comforting to know that the Creator of the universe loves me and wants the best for me.  That He is at the helm, in the ultimate control, and He can see the horizons much better than I can.  He is painting with each stroke, knowing that it will end up His greatest masterpiece.

Comforting: Won’t Be Forsaken

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  – Deuteronomy 31:8

It was the end of Moses’s life and the end of his time as the leader of Israel.  After he gave a little pep talk to the people, he called Joshua, his successor, in for a private meeting where he uttered the above words.  Joshua was going to lead the people of Israel into the promised land, fight battles, lose battles, see the people fall away and turn back to God.  And through it all, Moses says, God will never leave him.

God is always with us.  I think it is a good practice to look for God no matter what my life circumstances may be.  It’s easier after a win to believe God is with you, but I think it’s just as important to see him during the losses as well.

After my first daughter passed away, I prayed that God would make his presence obvious to me.  And he did.  In the many messages that I received from friends and family, from the nurses and doctors who showed me complete compassion to simple things like a sunrise.  To know that the almighty, powerful God would stoop down to comfort me was a miraculous blessing.  I knew that no matter what happened, I could curl up in the arms of my Heavenly Father and cry out to him.

Through both the good times and the bad, God is there.  And in that, I take great comfort.

Comforting: Fulfilled Promises

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her! – Luke 1: 45

This verse is my lock screen on my phone.  It has been my lock screen for over a year, between my last pregnancy and the one before.

Mary had come to visit Elizabeth after an angel told her that she would be pregnant with Jesus, and also that Elizabeth was pregnant too.  Elizabeth had been in seclusion after finding out her own pregnancy and when Mary showed up, Elizabeth’s baby (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb.

Of course, I was drawn to this verse because it involves two pregnant women, something I longed for myself.  But this verse stuck with me because even in my loss, my wonderings if I would ever carry a healthy baby to full term or raise children in my home, it was imperative for my soul and my anxiety to remember that God was fulfilling promises to me every day.

Promises that he will not leave me in my times of distress.  Promises that there is a bigger picture than what I see in front of me.  Promises that He will give me purpose in my pain.

This month is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.  In the next few weeks, I will be sharing some thoughts on these promises and verses that have helped me in the storm.