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.

Sustaining: Building Your House

Just a quick one this week.  I thought this was neat so I would point it out.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  – Proverbs 14:1

Of course, if you grew up with the “Wise Man Built His House Upon A Rock” song, perhaps like me, you started humming the tune as you read this verse in Proverbs.  Of course, this seems pretty straightforward.  Wise women build and foolish ones tear down.  There isn’t much more context to this particular verse.

But we know through the teachings of the Wise Man story in Matthew 7 that it’s what we build the house on that determines the wisdom or foolishness.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  – Matthew 7:24

No matter what comes our way, it’s where we lay our foundation day by day that makes our house, our family, our path stable.

So where are you laying your foundation today?

Sustaining: The Darkness

Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise.  Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.  –Micah 7:8

When I first read this verse during a Bible study, my mind went to the times in my life where bad things happened to me.  How I got through those bad times by relying on God.

But this isn’t exactly what this verse is talking about.  Because the very next verse says:

“Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until his pleads my case and upholds my cause.”

This is about Israel breaking its covenant with God and being exiled.  This is about Israel being the villain and receiving their just desserts.

It makes me think of the traditional villains in Disney movies.  The ones that fall off of cliffs or even exiled like Jafar in Aladdin.  People who make bad choices because they get consumed with selfishness, greed, or pride.

People like me.

No, I don’t think of myself as the villain of anyone’s story, but I am definitely a sinner who has betrayed God and broken promises to him.  I’ve definitely chosen myself before others.  And I’ve embraced the darkness and gotten lost in it.

But the amazing thing is that God’s light can still be found in the darkness.  In fact, the only real thing you can see in the dark is light.

And yes, there will be people who will be quick to condemn, like the enemies mentioned in this verse.   People who value the consequences over compassion.  But something incredible happens when you quiet those voices and look to God from the pits of your own digging.

God saves you.  And God is glorified in the saving. Christ’s blood covers you and redeems you.  And the Spirit moves within you to heal the broken parts and strengthen the weakness.

That is the beauty of this verse.  There isn’t a height too high or a depth too low for God to reach me.  And I am so grateful to a God who never gives up.

Sustaining: Be Refreshing

As I mentioned last week, I’m in a Sustaining season when it comes to Bible study.  That means that my life is basically hectic, and I don’t have the time to dig as deep as I would like into God’s Word.  So, right now, I’m giving myself grace and space, leaning on Bible app devotionals and a verse or two each day, and spending time at night journaling to God and starting each morning with baby worship music (Father Abraham, anyone?).

This past week in my devotional time, I came across this verse:

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

I love a good Proverb.  And this particular one defined generosity differently than I usually think of it.  Biblical generosity, to me, has always really meant our resources – time, food, and especially finances.  But when I think of someone being refreshing, I think of the kind of person who walks into a room and immediately lightens the atmosphere.  I think of someone who is encouraging and supportive.  Someone who brightens another’s day.

Am I being generous with my spirit?  Do I give people the benefit of the doubt?  Am I genuinely joyful and encouraging to those around me?  Do I show gratitude to others for what they do?

I am not talking about faking a smile or being disingenuous.  We all have bad days.  We all get cranky.  But in those moments, I can remember those who have been refreshing to me.  Those that made me smile or laugh, or put my mind at ease.  This verse has convicted me to strive to be more refreshing to everyone I meet – customer service agents, friends, neighbors, and family.  And the only way I can do this is to dwell in the Lord, the ultimate refresher, and sustainer of my soul.

What is sustaining you lately?