It feels like the battle will never end. Attack after Attack Blow after Blow I fall down, weary. Is there anyone that can help me? Does anyone see me? I look to my right and see my comrade on the ground. Blinded by swollen eyes, they still flail their sword at the enemy. I want to help but I can’t stand, Too battered and bruised to even shout. I look to my left and see another soldier, torn to pieces. The enemy standing over them, Still bloodthirsty and lusting for their next prey, Their eyes greedily search. I silently pray they don’t see me. But they do. Snarling and growling, they stalk towards me. This is the end. My battle is finally over. I have lost. The enemy inches closer and closer. There is no need for them to rush, They know they have their prey. I close my eyes and wait to feel their teeth sink inside my flesh, Instead, I hear a voice say, “the battle is not over. Open your eyes.” I see bursts of light piercing the darkness. A multitude of angels stand before me. The enemy cringes with fear. “Pick up your sword and fight, soldier,” the voice says. I feel my strength renewed. I shall live and not die, for the Lord has seen me. He has heard my cry. I pick up my sword and shield and charge, Shouting the battle cry, JESUS IS LORD! “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:16-17 KJV
I didn’t know who they were. I had never seen their faces. I only knew they set the standards for everything. Everyone waited for their wisdom and intently listened to their voices. No one questioned them. I don’t know why. It has always been that way.
There were some who dared to rebel against them and then there were those, like me, who just wanted to fit in. If I could just be like them, I would have peace. I eventually discovered their standards were unattainable. I was never thin enough, my hair never long or straight enough, my skin never light enough. They made growing up almost unbearable. If you can’t follow what they say, you would be subject to endless ridicule.
I tried desperately to comply but always failing. In the end, feeling unworthy and unloveable. In their eyes, I was a waste of space and I believed them. There were times I looked at a bottle of pills and wished I had the courage to take them all. At least in death they would leave me alone, then I could find peace.
I would like to say this all changed when I became an adult. I didn’t magically evolve into a beautiful butterfly that took everyone’s breath away, nor did I turn into a rebel that didn’t care what anyone said or thought. I was still awkward and tried to figure out exactly what they wanted me to do. My depression continued, followed by anxiety. I was so confused and lonely. I woke up every morning, disappointed to see another day. I would ask God why did He create me if He knew I would never live up to what they wanted.
One morning, I heard His voice. He said, “why are you listening to them. They have no power. They’re not able to form a world with just the words of their mouths. They can’t command the sun, moon and stars to stay in place and shine. They can’t make the earth rotate in the palms of their hands. They can’t breathe into dust and create life. In fact, they can’t even create actual dust.
“My beloved daughter, listening to them will not only kill you physically but worst of all, it will kill you spiritually. Your soul is dying as we speak. I uniquely and intricately created you. There are gifts I have given you that no one else has. You weren’t created haphazardly but with a specific plan and purpose to fulfill. Why listen to a creation when the Creator is speaking to you? They don’t know the plans I have for you but if you trust Me, your Creator, I will eventually reveal them to you.”
His words were beautiful and soothing to my ears. I so wanted to allow them to heal my wounded heart. I wanted to trust Him but His voice was still and small, deep inside me and their voices were so loud. “How can I trust You, Lord?”
He replied, “because My words are true. I am not like a man that should lie. I have sacrificed My Son for you. Just look in My Word and you will see.”
I opened up the Bible and started to read of how He created the earth and all that is in it. I read a love story of a God and His people. There were times I was angry, times I cried and times I saw myself and felt ashamed. I took all my feelings to Him and He patiently listened. He answered questions but there were some answers I simply wasn’t ready to hear. I eventually came to the conclusion that He could be trusted and they could not.
They didn’t love me nor cared about my well-being. They would never die for me, in fact they only encouraged me to take my own life. Why am I afraid of people who don’t have a heaven or a hell to put me in? I still don’t know who they are but I’m done listening.
Heavenly Father, thank You for so wonderfully and thoughtfully creating me. Without You there is no best life, no peace and no joy. Without You there is only confusion, shame and despair. There are no words to adequately describe how grateful I am that You have opened my eyes to see the beautiful creation that is me. May my ears always be inclined to Your voice. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
What is man that God is mindful of him? The Maker of all the heavens and earth. The One who created man from dust and breathed into his lungs. Who am I that God would choose me? It didn’t matter how deep in sin I was in. It didn’t matter how much I pushed Him away from me, His love for me never wavered. He still chose me. Even when my voice was too weak to call out, His ear was inclined to the cries of my heart. He kept track of every tear. He felt every wound inflicted on my soul. He never looked at me with contempt, only with complete compassion. Messy, filthy and unruly, yet I was my Father’s choice. Knowing all the bad choices I would make, All the times I would turn my back on Him, He chose me to be His beloved daughter. He allowed His Only Begotten Son to bear my sins, Die on a cross and take my place in hell. More powerful than a phoenix rising from the ashes, He rose from the grave with the keys of hell Overcoming death, overcoming darkness, All for the single purpose of bringing me salvation. He has created me for a time such as this. To boldly proclaim the good news. I am not the only chosen one. He also chose you. Will you answer His call and choose Him? “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 KJV “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV
I lay in bed not wanting to face another day of adulting. The constant fight with disappointments and setbacks has left me sore and exhausted. They try to pull me back into darkness, where dreams and hopes die. The temptation to give up is so great. Complacency slithers towards me, twisting all around me. The more I fight to break free, the tighter its grip. I feel its razor teeth sink inside my flesh, releasing its venom of lies, doubt and confusion. It whispers, “it’s ok to give up,” as the venom courses through my soul, paralyzing me. Its words taste sweet in my mouth but turns bitter as it goes down.
I pull the covers from my face and sit up in bed. Where did my fire go? I used to burn with the love of God and passion for His word in my belly. The fire kept the darkness away. It fueled me with the strength to fight. Now, I only feel a few glowing embers. “Lord, I think I’m dying,” I cry out. How did this happen? Didn’t I pray, fast and read your word every day?”
After a few more minutes in full pity party mode, I sat quietly, waiting. I would like to say it was because I came to my senses, but it was really because I had tired myself out. Mercifully, the Lord answered in that quiet moment. He told me to meet Him in His word. Whenever He tells me this, I know I’m in trouble. He had grown tired of my foolishness. So, I obediently pulled out my Bible and He led me to the book of Revelations. Oh Boy!
He led me to read chapter two. In it, the Lord addresses the church of Ephesus. He starts off by telling them what they are doing that pleases Him. They knew His word, they labored to do His will and they had patience and didn’t faint. Then He goes on to tell them what displeases Him. Revelations 2:4 says, “nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (KJV)
As if this wasn’t painful enough for me to read, He directed me to jump to Revelations 3:14-22. In this section He addresses the church of the Laodiceans. He says in Revelations 3:15-16, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (KJV)
Have I really started to turn away from my first love, Jesus? Am I becoming lukewarm? No, this can’t be, I pray, read and fast. I don’t willfully sin. Then the Lord brought to my remembrance how lately I’ve been spending less and less time praying. How I’ve been rushing through His word. I even remembered one of the goals for this year was to post on the blog every week yet, it’s the end of March and I hadn’t written or posted a thing. I truly was slipping away from God and into the arms of complacency. What do I do, Lord?
God, being merciful, again led me to His word. This time to Revelations 3:19 which says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.” In Revelations 2:5, He says, “remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.” (KJV)
I am so thankful God was merciful enough to chasten me. I had been slowly turning away from my first love and the works He has called me to do. My turning away was causing me to become lukewarm. I was no longer passionate and zealous for the things of God. He called me to encourage others and I was barely encouraging myself. He called me to love others and I was barely loving myself. Complacency was leading me into a selfish place.
As I look at the world I live in, I see so much pain. While I know I can’t relieve all the pain, I can do my part. Could it be the reason some don’t believe in a loving God is because those called by His name have also turned away from their first love? Has our turning away caused us to become lukewarm and to stop caring for the things God cares for, which are people?
We see people in need and don’t provide them from that which God has provided us. We see people cry out for justice and we turn a blind eye. We see oppression and remain silent. We were called to be a light in the darkness. Where is the fire?
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 ESV
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NIV
A world deep in sin, determined to live a life a part from You. Hardened hearts full of darkness and hate, never truly recognizing the sacrifice made. Yet, You still sent Your Son, a Lamb without spot or blemish. Holy, Righteous, and Loving, perfectly mirroring His Father. A love no one could ever understand.
He should have been born inside a palace and wrapped in the finest linens. Instead, He was born in a manger and wrapped in the swaddling clothes of an animal. His life was constantly threatened. His identity called into question but His love for us never waivered. The King of kings and Lord of lords was crowned, not with gold and precious gems but with thorns that dug deep inside His flesh. Instead of a robe made from the finest silk draped about His shoulders, He was covered with bruises and stripes on His back. Unrecognizable not only to the world but to family and friend, the Prince of Peace was lifted high on a cross where He took His last breath but it wouldn’t be the end of His suffering.
He was imprisoned and tortured in a place devoid of God. A place where there is nothing but weeping and gnashing of teeth. The very place He was trying to keep His beloved friends from going. He bravely endured punishment He never deserved then triumphantly rose from the grave. Jesus, what a truly beautiful name. What an exquisitely precious gift to give to the world. Who can top the gift of eternal life?
As I sit and think about the sacrifice that was made for me, I’m at a loss for the proper response. Thank You isn’t enough and Hallelujah isn’t a high enough praise. What could I possibly give in return? The most precious thing I own is my heart. It may be bruised and scarred. There may be wounds that haven’t quite healed but it is all I have and I give it freely to my Lord and Savior. I know He is the only One who can restore and keep it safe all of my days.
Lord, Thank You for making such a sacrifice for me. May my heart always remain in a fixed position of praise to You. May I represent You in my words and actions in a way that draws people to You and not push them away. Let me love not as the world does, which is conditional but help me to love like You, unconditionally and sacrificially. My celebration of Your birth, life and resurrection is not expressed through store bought gifts, Christmas trees or twinkling lights. It’s expressed by surrendering my heart and my life to You and by sharing Your magnificent Word with the world.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made, without him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:1-3 NIV
My life is not complete without You, Lord. I don't need to see it to believe it A life without Christ, I can't conceive it. It doesn't matter where I go Or who I know If it's not in You, it's just for show No matter how high I climb Or how hard I grind The Lover of my soul is always on my mind. All for His glory The beginning and end of my story. No eye has seen nor ear has heard All He has in stored hasn't been explored. I want to let the world know It's not about cars, money or fame God's treasures puts all of that to shame Gonna lift Him higher Staying close is my desire. My life is not complete without my Lord and Savior. My Eternal Friend Who has granted me so much favor. Who am I, Lord, that You are mindful of me? Spoiled and broken Your selfless love has captured me Cleansed and restored I'm Yours for all eternity.
This time last year I was sitting on the kitchen floor in tears. I was overwhelmed with the new responsibility for being the primary caregiver for my mother, holding down a full time job and grieving for my sister who had passed a little over a month prior. I was angry with God, angry with my family and friends and angry with myself. I felt alone because I didn’t let anyone know how much I was hurting and struggling. Although I didn’t have a plan to hurt myself, I truly didn’t care if I never woke up again. There were some days, I was actually disappointed I had woke up.
As I sat on the floor, exhausted and frustrated that I had spent a whole day cooking a dinner that no one was coming over to eat, I decided I was going to take a break from God. I was too tired to keep trying. If He truly wanted me, He was going to have to come and get me. Life after that went downhill. I had no idea how crazy and challenging 2020 was going to be for the whole world. It looked like God had given up on me and the rest of the world.
Around August, God came and got me. I rededicated my life to Him but this time I completely surrendered my life to Him. I let Him in every area, not just the nice parts. I wanted to be an open book for God. Although I was aware that God already knew everything, it was still difficult being honest about how I felt about Him and myself. I still wasn’t truly sure about the depths of His love for me and I found it hard to trust Him. Little by little He started to heal me. Healing is a painful process and I’m still going through it.
This Thanksgiving, despite all of the heartbreaking events and challenges, I can truly say I am thankful. I have a peace that transcends understanding. I have unspeakable joy. I have hope and faith again. Dreams have been restored. I know God truly loves me and cares about every detail of my life. I now wake up and I’m thankful that He has given me another day because it’s another day I can share the love He His given to me with someone else.
The fact that for a lot of people, this Thanksgiving Day will be one the most difficult days of their lives hasn’t alluded me. Many are grieving the lose of loved ones. They are without jobs and don’t know if they will be able to eat dinner. They feel alone and unloved by family, society and God. Even as I type this, there are some that are contemplating suicide. I’m thankful today to be able to tell them don’t give up. God loves you and He has a plan for you. It’s not to hurt you but to give you hope and a future.(Jeremiah 29:11) Please keep fighting because you have no idea how close you are to a breakthrough. I know it hurts, it’s scary and it’s lonely. You’re never too far away and it’s never too late to go to God. His door is always open. Joel 2:32 says, “But everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.”(NLT) There’s always hope and there is always help.
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalm 30:11-12 NLT
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, suicidepreventionlifeline.org
NAMI Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), M-F 10a-6p ET or email: email@example.com; for free crisis counseling 24/7 text NAMI to 741741; additional resources available at nami.org
If you’re in the Metro Detroit area and are looking for mental health assistance or Biblical counseling, feel free to check out GACCS (God Almighty Christian Community Services); gaccs.org; (248) 847-3600 or (313) 247-8315
If you have a prayer request, you can email requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
The grief of life’s disappointments weighed heavy on my shoulders. Shame from past deeds clawed at my back. They were unshakeable. The more I tried to break free, the stronger their grip grew. I couldn’t breathe. I just needed a minute to breathe.
I dug a hole, a fortress, to hide and regroup. I was only supposed to stay there for a little while but it started to become my permanent home. I knew I didn’t belong there but it was safe. Instead of coming out, I dug in deeper until I was completely covered in dirt. I had successfully buried myself in darkness. So deep and dark was my hole, I had no idea where I was or how to get myself out. I needed help.
How could I possibly call out for help now? I was a complete mess. I didn’t want anyone to see me this way. Embarrassment covered my mouth like duct tape yet I still wondered why no one came looking for me. Not only was I foolish enough to get myself in this mess but I had isolated myself so much no one even knew to look for me.
I sat in the darkness, resigned to the fact I wasn’t going down in a blaze of glory but as a fool in filth. I let go of my last sliver of hope and waited for th end. In the distance, I heard a voice whisper my name. It sounded familiar, full of love and compassion. I wanted to be close to whoever was at the end of that voice. It didn’t matter how terrible I looked anymore. I just wanted to be free.
I summoned up my last bit of strength and called out. “I’m in a hole and I can’t get out. I don’t even know where I am. Please help me.”
The voice answered, “don’t be afraid. I Am is with you. I saw when you dug the hole. You were never lost. You never left my sight.”
I felt the weight begin to lift. A pinhole of light appeared and grew bigger. My eyes hurt as they adjusted to the light. I could breathe again. Exhausted and covered in dirt, I was again aware of my filthiness. Embarrassed by needing help, I wanted to run away but my legs were too weak to stand, let alone run away from my rescuer. Yet, I still tried to hide my face. I felt strong arms wrap me up and gently lead me to safety. Not only was I cleaned and fed by my rescuer but I was given a place of honor at His table and welcomed into His family.
No matter how lost we think we are, we are never lost to God. His eye is always on us and His ear is always inclined to our call. There is nothing too heavy for Him to lift off us. You may ask, why would someone so holy and mighty even bother. You may think you’re not even worthy of His help. However, worthiness is based on the Creator’s standards. Ask yourself, would a father sacrifice his son for someone he did not deem worthy? That would be an utterly cruel thing to do. God sent His Son Jesus to bear the weight of our sins, pain and shame because He loves us. His desire isn’t for anyone to perish but He knew because of our sins, we couldn’t stand in His presence. We would be destroyed by His holiness. So, He made a way for us to be reconciled with Him and to be restored, but only if we choose to call out.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18 KJV
As my heavy eyes finally begin to close and I drift off to sleep, I’m jolted awake. “Help me, help me,” my father yelled across the hall.
I don’t remember the last time I had slept for more than a couple of hours. It felt like he had been battling cancer for an eternity, but it had been more like a couple of months. His pain was increasing and the cancer that ravaged his lungs had moved to his brain.
I dragged my sore and weary body out of bed to see how I could comfort him. He didn’t want me, as such was the case most nights. He wanted my mother. I tried to explain that it was three in the morning but he insisted I get her anyway. With a heavy heart, I went upstairs to wake her, knowing she was working on as little sleep as I was. Swollen feet and legs, she made her way downstairs, pausing to offer up the only prayer she had strength to give. “Oh Father,” she said and continued downstairs.
I went back to my room and crawled into bed. After listening to my parents’ exchange for a few moments, I held the pillow to my face to muffle my cries. “Lord, don’t You care that we’re drowning in grief and pain? Where are You?”
As I retell the events of those months to a good friend, she looks at me in astonishment. “I’ve worked in hospice home health care for years and that was one of the most traumatizing experiences I’ve heard,” she said. “The fact that you’re even able to sit here and talk about it without breaking down is the power of God.”
Those few months while my father was sick were the worst and most painful of my life. I was gripped with intense depression, fear and anxiety. I was overwhelmed with holding down a full time job, caring for my mother who was battling her own health issues and a dying father, all with very little help. It didn’t feel like God was with me at all. However, now that I’ve been on the other side for a few years, I can see that He was.
I was so physically and emotionally exhausted back then it could only have been God that helped me function. I functioned so well that people who didn’t know about my situation had no idea what I was going through. It was only God’s strength that helped me to overcome so many fears during that time. He did care that my family and I were struggling. He brought neighbors to give us rides to the hospital and to help care for my father. He also brought friends to comfort us with prayer.
When we’re deep in a storm, it’s hard to think straight. All we can think about is surviving. We can feel so alone. We desperately search for someone who will see and rescue us but when no one comes, we look to God and ask why He doesn’t care about us. Why has He allowed such torment in our lives? I’m reminded of Matthew 8:23-27, where Jesus’ disciples faced such a situation. They found themselves in a boat during a violent storm. As the darkness enveloped them, their faith started to waiver. The boat was tossed to and fro, water poured into the boat, it looked like they weren’t going to survive. They looked at Jesus, peacefully sleeping oblivious to the danger, the One who had confidently told them they were going to the other side. They frustratingly ask Him, “don’t You care, Lord, that we’re about to die.”
Jesus calmly got up and told not only the storm but them, “peace, be still.”
It’s when we are still we can feel His presence. We can hear His calming voice. When we start to panic during the storm, we can’t hear, we can’t think, we can’t see. I don’t know your situation. I certainly can’t pretend to know why you’re going through what you’re going through. I can’t tell you how long it will last or why God has allowed it to even happen. I can’t even tell you that believing God is with you is going to magically and immediately change your situation. You will probably have to go through it for a while and it will be painful. God never promised that we wouldn’t have to go through the valley. He only promised He would never leave us nor forsake us and that we will get to the other side.
My prayer for you is that as you read these words, you are reminded that God loves you and He does care. I pray that you can find a moment to be still and feel His peace which transcends all understanding and hear His voice which speak words that are a balm to your soul. May His strength help you to fight another day.
“I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.” Psalm 120:1 NIV
“For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV
Every day, all day, I am constantly faced with the questions, do I have enough energy to take care of my elderly mother alone? Do I have enouth motivation to do my job? Do I have enough talent and wisdom to do what God has called me to do? Do I have enough faith that will please God?
As you can probably imagine, running these questions around inside my mind all day is tiresome. I want to believe that I have enough but at the end of my exhausting day, I arrive at the same answer. I absolutely do not have enough of anything. This answer devastates me. To come to the truth that I am not enough makes me question why I’m even here.
I cried out to God, “why me, Lord,” in the most dramatic fashion might I add. In the middle of my crying and full blown pity party, I heard the Lord ask me, “do you believe that I’m enough?”
“Well, of course I do, Lord,” I answered. “You are Almighty, All Powerful, All Wise. There is nothing you can’t do.”
“Then the real question you need to ask yourself is, do you believe that I love you enough,” He said.
What a question, indeed. I admit I have developed some serious trust issues. People have disappointed and hurt me so I’ve depended on myself. My mistake was evaluating God based on their actions. Let’s be real, God isn’t even remotely close to being in the same category as us humans. His Word clearly says that He is not a man that He should lie. We lie to each other and ourselves all the time. Even His actions show that He’s not in the same category as us. What have we truly created without His help. He is the Creator of all. So why would I trust Him in the same way I trust humans?
God’s very essence is love. He created us in love, to love Him and each other He loves us so much that when we, as a creation, fell into sin and turned away from loving Him, He gave His Son Jesus as a sacrifice on our behalf, just so that we could be reconciled to Him. He wants so badly to have a relationship with us that His Son took the punishment that was meant for us. Now, these are things just written in the Bible. What if I look at all the things He has specifically done for me?
There were plenty of times I should have died, plenty of situations that should have broken me and plenty of betrayals against Him that should have disqualified me from being a part of His family. Yet, His never ending love for me kept me alive, healed my broken heart and qualified me to be His daughter. Even now, in the midst of my struggles, He’s still there, patiently lifting me up when I stumble. The mere fact that He answered when I called out to Him during my pity party, shows His love for me.
Yes, God I believe You love me enough. I don’t have to be enough. Your love for me has given me access to Your mercy, power and wisdom. I have enough in You.
All praise to the God of More Than Enough.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV