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.

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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?

 

Sustaining: Finding Rest

Last week, I talked about the different types of Bible study that I have done in the last few years.  They change up as the rhythms and seasons of my life change.  Right now, I’m in a sustaining season.

This week, I’ve been using a devotional from a Bible app about finding rest.  I figured in this period of anxiety, focusing a few minutes of my day resting in God’s arms and promises could only be beneficial to me.

In this study, a particular verse has remained in my thoughts throughout my week.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.  – Psalm 63:1

This resonated with me because lately, I’ve been really thirsty.  Between this incredibly hot summer and breastfeeding, I’m longing for a cool drink of water just about all day.  Especially after my morning walks with the boy.  The temperatures this week are in the triple digits, and although I tend to get out early before the heat really settles in, it’s still pretty warm during those walks.  While Sam is in his cool, shaded stroller, I am walking in the direct sunlight with only the clothes on my back and the sunscreen on my skin to protect me.

When I arrive back home, the first thing I do is reach for a water bottle in the fridge.  The iced water replenishes me and cools down my inner temperature.  And while it’s nice to have a cold cloth on the neck or to stand in front of a fan, nothing compares to a glass of cold water.  Because it works from the inside out.  Just like God.  The writer of the Psalm longs to drink in God’s spirit so that it can replenish from the inside out.  And nothing compares to that renewal.

What is sustaining you lately?

 

Bible Study

In this season of my life, Bible study looks completely different than it did a year ago.

At first, I felt a little guilty.  My Bible study didn’t look like what I thought it was supposed to look like.  But then I realized that it doesn’t have to be the Instagram picture in my head of the early morning time, with a cup of tea or coffee, an open Bible along with a pen and notebook.

While it still includes some prayer journal time at night, my mornings include a verse or two of scripture on my own, and then some kids worship songs with the boy (he is loving Father Abraham).  Last year, I dug in deep on some of my favorite women of the Bible which then led to some more digging into genealogy and wherever my curiosity took me.  But right now, with the unpredictable nature of my day, that just isn’t feasible.

That’s when I realized Bible study can be all the above things, but it can also be other things.  My time in the Word has changed depending on my circumstances over the last five years, and they seem to fall into three categories.

Challenging

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Psalm 86:1

This is the digging deep time.  It’s diving into the stories of men and women in the Bible, allowing my curiosities to guide me.  It may lead to studying a particular book or workbook that will challenge me, not just mentally but spiritually as well.  It’s the stretching and reaching part of a study that I love to do, and when I do, I get obsessed.

Comforting

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

Right after I lost my daughter, I needed God.  I needed his comfort.  I spent more time journaling than I read during this time, but I did lean on verses and stories in the Bible that bring me that comfort.  When I find a verse that soothes my soul, I write it down for these particular moments.

But also, I would listen to music.  I feel like God’s Word and his promise can play out in music.  I would ball up on the floor, crying my eyes out, just playing the same songs over and over.  Songs that remind me that God hasn’t forsaken me.

Sustaining

“Behold, God is my helper. The Lord is the one who sustains my soul.” Psalm 55:4

This is where I am now.  There are times I don’t even know what day it is.  Everything is just running together as I am caring for this little boy in my arms.  I don’t have the time for challenging study, but I still need something to sustain.  So, if it’s just a verse or two, that’s okay.  And if I find an interesting curiosity, I write it down for later when I have more time to follow up.

I no longer feel guilty if I don’t have 30 minutes every day to devote to Bible study or prayer or worship.  Someday I will have that time to dig deep.  Someday I may need those moments of comfort.  But for now, I do what I need to sustain my relationship with God, even if it’s only for a few moments today.

I know that I’m not the only one who has felt this way.  And I’m also wanting a little accountability.  So, on Fridays, the plan is to share something I read or listened to that week from one of these categories (to be honest, it will probably being the sustaining category for a while).  I’m excited to try this, and I encourage you to share a verse or song that’s speaking to you as well!