Through Every Season

Tag: Answers to Prayer (Page 1 of 11)

Where is Your Hope?

I have a few confessions to make.

I loved this Facebook meme for the end of 2020.

The general consensus that this has been a bad year and that everyone just wants it over has been hard on me. Not that I thought that this was a particularly good year or that many of the changes that this year brought haven’t been hard on me or that I don’t want to see this year end. 

IT’S THAT THE EAGERNESS IS MISPLACED.

The hype at the end of last year about how great 2020 was going to be really bothered me as well.

You see, in December 2012, when Joel died, I learned not to put my hope in a year. 

Many years earlier, God gave me a verse for my kids that became my prayer and hope:

All your children shall be taught by the LORD Himself, and great shall be the peace of your children. – Isaiah 54:13

I prayed that they would be taught by the LORD Himself. I prayed daily that they would love the Lord and serve Him with all their hearts. My goal in homeschooling them was to teach them to be led by Holy Spirit. They are really great kids, hard workers. Ages 26-32 now. They love the Lord, are incredibly smart. The Lord Himself has truly been their teacher.

On a Wednesday night in November of 2012, someone in our church had our oldest and youngest sons stand up and spoke Jeremiah 29:11 over them: 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.”

The promise felt a little out of place. I thought, “Of course, God’s plans are good.” We were overflowing with hope. All three boys were living at home while working their way through college. My daughter was preparing to graduate from homeschooling. Everything was good. 

Then that awful day in December came. Joel died. My hope was shattered and I lost all sense of what hope was. No one can live without hope. I needed a different kind of hope, a more trustworthy hope.

I had never thought about how that wonderful verse in Jeremiah 29:11 was spoken to a people also promised 70 years of captivity. They would never see their kids graduate from college and live a long prosperous life this side of Heaven either. 

How did they live? What was their hope? I had to search the scriptures diligently with all my heart to learn what biblical hope really is. 

I learned to love verses that I had skipped over before. I held onto them for dear life. Job and Joseph and Paul and Jesus became my best friends. They had suffered long and hard. They understood.

Our hope was never meant to be in a year. It’s not meant to be placed in the things or people of this world. Yes, God has good plans for us. Yes, He wants to prosper us. But our treasures are not earthly treasures where moth and rust corrupt. They are Heavenly. They are eternal.

I had to learn to live this way:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things above, not the things on the earth. For you have died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life may be revealed, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

I had to learn perseverance: 

So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you will become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way. – James 1:4

For a long time, I had to trust that perseverance would produce the hope I’d lost:

Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. Romans 5:3-5

I had to believe that my suffering was temporary and achieving a greater glory:

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  – 2 Corinthians 4:17  

I had to learn to trust that God’s grace would be sufficient for whatever the new year would bring:

Each time He said, “My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I had to learn to aline my hope with our heroes of faith: 

All these people died in faith, without having received the things they were promised. However, they saw them and welcomed them from afar. And they acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

Now those who say such things show that they are seeking a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13- 16

I had to learn to think soberly about this life and rest my hope FULLY on Christ and His return: 

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, rest all your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. – 1 Peter 1:13

My hope has grown eager and secure because it is no longer in temporary things.  

But you, beloved, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, eagerly waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you eternal life. Jude 1:20-21 

How is your hope?
Is it misplaced?
Or is it only in our eternal hope in Jesus?

In His love,

Jenny Coleman
GriefShare facilitator at Redland Hills Church

We are starting two GriefShare groups this Spring.

Anyone grieving a death of a friend or loved one:
Sundays at 3 PM starting January 17th

Bereaved parents:
Wednesdays at 6 PM starting January 13th

Ask for details or find one by zip code near you at GriefShare.org

You’re Invited

I was pouring out some pent up emotions (and tears) in prayer on my walk the other day. I noticed I’d been trying to live bootstraps pulled up, marching forward right over my heart. I know that is not the Father’s heart towards me, so I decided to declare the truth to my heart by praying through Psalm 23. When I came to “my cup runs over,” I “looked” inside my cup. It was empty. A tear plopped into my empty cup..

How are you? Are you taking your cares to the Shepherd of your soul? Are you speaking truth to your heart? Are you seeing Jesus rightly? Are you taking time to sit at the table He has prepared for you in the presence of your enemies? Are you allowing Him to fill your cup?

I asked the Lord, what had He prepared for me? What was at the table? Why was my cup dry? These verses came to mind:

And He took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you. – Luke 22:19-20

Jesus humbled Himself, suffered and died that we might eat and drink of Him. He is the sacrifice prepared for us in the midst of our enemies.

“I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And this bread, which I will give for the life of the world, is My flesh.” – John 6:51

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and called out in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.” – John 7:37-38

Jesus is our Spring of Salvation; a flowing source of salvation that the thirsty can return to again and again.

Isaiah 12:2-3
Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
For the LORD GOD is my strength and my song,
and He also has become my salvation.
With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation.

Jesus’ sacrifice and invitation to come eat and drink of Him is very good news to those who are thirsty and willing to come. Will you draw water with joy from our Spring of Salvation with me?

May you feel His loving embrace this Christmas,

Jenny

Choosing Where My Triggered Thoughts Take Me

I drove by a yard decorated with plastic tombstones for Halloween this week. It was hard on my heart.

It triggered thoughts of death, darkness, and the deep pain of losing someone you dearly love.

Innocent pastimes like Clue, the Mafia party game, and Murder Mystery Dinners are no longer innocent or mysterious for me. I do still really enjoy seeing kids’ creativity and joy in dressing up in some of the nicer Halloween costumes and I’ve already bought glow bracelets, temporary monster tattoos, candy and tracks to pass out to the neighborhood kids.

I dreaded the drive back home past the play cemetery the other night. Then flenched when I saw it a second time and I prayed for those I know who are hurting this season. I acknowledged in my heart that the decorations aren’t going to get any brighter as the years go by and determined that I needed change what seeing death celebrated triggers in me.

I asked myself, “What thoughts can I connect to tombstones that would help heal my battered soul?” My heart answered, “The death of death! The day God swallows up death forever! The day we will celebrate Jesus’ victory over death, our last enemy! The day God will tenderly wipe away every tear from our eyes!” Oh, how I long for that day!

I compiled a list of “Death Swallowed in Victory” verses to help my heart in those triggered moments. Training my mind and renewing my heart will take a while, but I know Jesus gives beauty for ashes. I included a photo above showing how I use Google Keep to keep lists like it in my phone. Sharing it here for those like me who may need the brighter thoughts they inspire:

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. For Yahweh has spoken.

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Isaiah 60:20 Your sun will no longer set, and your moon will not wane; for Yahweh will be your everlasting light, and the days of your sorrow will be over.

Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is dismantled, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies; and every one who is living and is a believer in me will never, never die. Do you believe this?”

1 Corinthians 15:54-56 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

Psalm 16:7-11
I will bless Yahweh, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.

I have set Yahweh always before me.
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be moved.

No wonder my heart is glad
and my glory rejoices;
my body also rests in safety.

For You will not abandon
my soul among the dead,
nor allow your faithful one to see decay.

You cause me to know the path to life;
fill me with joy in Your presence,
everlasting delight at Your right hand.

Much love and grace,

Jenny

Reasons Not to Seek a Medium or Spiritists

When you are suffering or have lost someone you dearly love, there can be a temptation to desperately grasp at any means of comfort. God may feel distant, inaccessible, or we may honestly not be on speaking terms with Him. Seeking a medium or spiritists may sound like a good idea, but the reality is that it can be devastatingly dangerous. What we need when our hearts are broken is nothing short of a miracle. We need the comfort that only God can give.

God is not distant or inaccessible. Jesus died on the cross so that nothing can ever separate us from His love again. All we have to do is ask and He will come to our rescue.

I am not saying that our journey through suffering to comfort will be quick or easy, but if we will continually turn our hearts to God, He will be faithful to meet us and minister to us as only He can.

I was so blessed a few years ago when I read a Kim Nolywaika’s “Eight Reasons Why I Will Not See a Psychic Medium” that I wanted to write a similar post of my own. I hope this line of thought helps you as it has me. Kim’s post can be found on her blog at: https://youcantrusthim.com/2017/03/09/eight-reasons-why-i-will-not-see-a-psychic-medium/

Download my page of reasons below as a pdf here.

In His love,

Jenny Coleman

Trust the Engineer

It can get really dark on this fallen planet, but those who trust in Jesus are only traveling through.
The darkness is not our destination.
Eventually, if we trust our Heavenly Engineer and don’t jump off, we will find that He is the Everlasting Light at the end of our tunnel.

 

Your sun will no longer set, and your moon will not wane; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and the days of your sorrow will cease. – Isaiah 60:20

But those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. – James 1:12

All these people died in faith, without having received the things they were promised. However, they saw them and welcomed them from afar. And they acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. – Hebrews 11:13

I ask that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope of His calling, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of His power to us who believe. – Ephesians 1:18-19

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. -2 Corinthians 4:6

Love and grace,

Jenny

Heavenly Intercessors and Witnesses: Encouragement to Run and Pray

I recently learned that my friend, Donna, joined the great cloud of witnesses, who cheer for us. She promised to tell Joel funny stories from when we were little when she got there. Her friendship was such a gift.

Three precious women, who have prayed for and often encouraged me, have joined that cloud of witnesses in the last nine months. Their prayers and witness continue to encourage me now. I was praying this morning for their families and others who are grieving and leaning into these verses:

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. 27 And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God…

34 Who is there to condemn us? For Christ Jesus, who died, and more than that was raised to life, is at the right hand of God—and He is interceding for us.

I lean hard because I am weak and often don’t know how I ought to pray, but long to join Jesus and Holy Spirit in their intercession for us even when only groans too deep for words can suffice.

Jesus, consumed with zeal for His house, drove money changers out of the temple and declared:

“My house will be called a house of prayer.” (John 2, Matthew 21)

I imagine that He is consumed with that same zeal for His heavenly house and that intercession is a central part of what goes on in Heaven.

My dear friend, Terri, commented below, “Hebrews 7:25 He always lives to make intercession for us. I had to read that verse over and over to really believe I was reading it right! He lives to intercede for us. What a wonderful Truth in God’s word!”

Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.

Yes! He lives to intercede for us! Holy Spirit is interceding, Jesus, the Central Focus of Heaven, lives to intercede for us and is zealous that His house be called a house of prayer.

Our loved ones in Heaven have seen Jesus. They have seen His face, His great heart of love, His longing, His zeal, and have become like Him. I imagine that they are consumed with His zeal and His longing. I imagine that they have joined Jesus and Holy Spirit in interceding for us, asking that we would be strengthened in our faith, that we would know the width, length, height and depth of His love, be encouraged by their witness and His faithful promises to us.

In Luke 15:10, Jesus tells us,

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

“There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels.”

Who is in the presence of the angels rejoicing?

In this chapter, Jesus tells us stories of a shepherd searching for a lost lamb, a woman scouring for a lost silver coin and a father running toward his returning prodigal son.

He is telling us how valuable we are in God’s eyes. He wants us to know how our Good Shepherd searches for us and how our Father in Heaven watches, waits and longs for our repentance. He is showing us how when we turn towards home, He runs towards us with hugs and kisses, joyfully puts us on His shoulders and calls His friends, neighbors, servants and sons together and says, “Rejoice with me!”

22b “‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

“…there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels.”

Knowing that Jesus lives to intercede for us, and God longs for and rejoices with heavenly intercessors and witnesses over my repentance makes me want to run hard and well toward Home with my eyes fixed on Jesus for the joy set before me:

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I am so thankful that God so loved me that sent His Son, Jesus, to seek and save me. I am so thankful for the opportunity and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. I am so thankful for the prayers and witnesses of Jesus, Holy Spirit, friends and family, and of saints around the world and in Heaven. I am so thankful for our firm and secure Anchor of Hope and the encouragement to run. I am so thankful that the Spirit Himself intercedes for us when we don’t know how we ought to pray with groans too deep for words and according to the will of God.

Rejoice in hope, endure distress, devoted to prayer. Romans 12:12

With love and intercessory groans,

Jenny

2018 A Year of Focusing on God’s Love (Truths I must recite to my own heart daily.)

I have a habit of spending the last several weeks of the year in prayer asking the Lord for direction for the new year. Last year He answered, “Whatever 2018 brings, focus on My love for you.”

Although the first part of His answer was full of reminiscent premonition, He gave me the grace to trust and obey. I’m so thankful. Some long, hard days and weeks were made bearable by the transformative grace of focusing on His love. There were a few days where I lost focus. He was faithful, so faithful, to redirect me back to His love. [PDF of verses on God’s love here.]

Suffering calls into question God’s motives and authority. It begs the same questions that the serpent asked Eve in the garden: Did God really say? Is what He said true? What is He keeping from you? What are His secret intentions?

How do we turn these questions over on their head?

We choose to view our circumstances in faith through the lens of His great love by skillfully wielding His Word. Like night vision goggles, His Word pierces the darkness and collects the hidden rays of Light and Truth.

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. (Lamentations 3:21-22 NLT)

God loves us. There is no shadow of turning in Him. Jesus is proof of His love. If we ever doubt His love for us, we can look at Love come down in the flesh suffering the cross for us. He loves us all the way from Heaven to earth and back. His arms are stretched wide bidding us to make our home and find our rest in His love.

He saw us, knew us and called us to Himself before He formed us. Before the foundation of the world, God knew that having us for His own treasured possession would cost Him the life of His only begotten Son and counted us worth it.

Christmas is Immanuel, God with us. Nothing can separate us from His love. Our High Priest understands our weakness, knows that we are dust, made Himself nothing, took on servanthood and became obedient to a terrible, shameful death on the cross. The same God that determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds with His love.

He is the Good Samaritan who sees us suffering on the side of the road and is moved by compassion to save us. Unlike all others who turn away and pass by on the other side, He runs to us, pours Himself out for us, clothes us with His own robe of righteousness and seals us with His promised Holy Spirit.

He has set His love on us. We are the joy for which He endured the cross, the apple of His eye, His promised bride. Nothing touches us that doesn’t touch Him. His wings are our refuge. He sees our tossing and turning through the night and collects our tears in His bottle. Nothing can snatch us out of His hand.

In all their suffering He also suffered,
and He personally rescued them.
In His love and mercy He redeemed them.
He lifted them up and carried them through all the years. (Isaiah 63:9)

In this fallen world, suffering is the price of love. The cross is proof that God sometimes allows what He hates in order to accomplish what He loves. God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. His intention is to conform us into the image of His Son who suffered and died for us.

We endure suffering and become more than conquerors through Him who loved us by fixing our eyes on Jesus as our highest joy and great reward. We know that though weeping endures for a night, joy comes in the morning. One day soon all pain, sorrow, morning and death will end. He will personally wipe away our tears and give us a great and glorious inheritance. These truths are a buckler for us through our suffering. We pray daily for others to know and rely on them.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:16-18)

I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps. (1 Peter 2:21)

Praying that this year will be a year of transformative grace as you delve in deep into the truth of His love for you.

I collected a list of 100+ verses to help me meditate on God’s love and posted it as a PDF for you here.

Jenny

Trusting that God Has Done the Math

In the first few days and weeks after we lost our youngest son, the fact that I continued to wake up each morning bewildered me.

It seemed like the world should have stopped. Oh, how I wanted it to stop and let me get off. The world as I knew it had ended. I didn’t understand how or why I continued to live. Breathing was hard and involuntary. Giving it up would have been a relief.

After a while, it dawned on me that the reason I kept waking up was because God’s purposes for me on earth weren’t completed.

God spoke to me through Psalm 139:16:

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

I knew the verse well. It comforted me to know that God had planned out Joel’s days before he was born. He is never taken by surprise. He has planed out every moment of our lives; the ones on earth and the ones in Heaven.

Suddenly, I realized that if God knew all of Joel’s days and all of my days, He must have done the math.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
Psalm 139:17-18

God knew I was going to continue to live on earth after Joel went Home. He had planned out the days I was going to live as a bereaved parent before I was born. This was comforting because I didn’t know how to live those days. I had no plan.

I have a God who knows me.. has known me from my mother’s womb.. who knew I would live on the earth longer than my youngest son.. has planned out a path for me to walk.. a way for me to live. Every day I wake up.. He is still with me.

Getting this revelation was a small victory; a step towards living the life God planned for me.

The journey towards life and healing is not a sprint; it’s a cross country marathon. It requires LOTS of patience, forbearance and longsuffering. These are fruits of the Spirit that can ONLY be produced through spending TIME WITH JESUS. The small victory of revelation came through spending time with Jesus, meditating on His Word, pouring out my heart to Him, and quieting myself so that I could hear His Holy Spirit speak to me through His Word.

I’ve learned to celebrate these small victories as milestones in my journey. There is something about celebrating small victories that releases healing and even more victory.

Zechariah 4:10 says,

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…

The LORD rejoices. He sees small beginnings and He rejoices!

He watches infants grow in the womb. He probably sees an eyelash begin to form and leans over to Jesus and says, “Look at that! An eyelash!”

The very hairs on our head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30) His thoughts about us cannot be numbered. We are always on His mind; never hidden from His sight.

We serve a God who celebrates small beginnings. When we celebrate small victories, we are joining in what God is doing; we are aligning our hearts with His and releasing power for more victories. Recognizing and celebrating small victories in the middle of our valley infuses our inner man with strength for the road ahead and propels us forward in our journey towards life and healing and the final victory.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are still days when I wish the world would stop and let me off. I work hard at keeping my eyes on Jesus, at hearing His voice, at obeying His instructions AND I STILL STRUGGLE through valleys.

I don’t believe I am alone in this. All my favorite Bible heroes and saints (including Jesus) are my favorites because I know their stories of struggle.

During the days of Jesus’ earthly life, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. Hebrews 5:7-8

The journey towards life and healing is not a sprint; it doesn’t follow a straight line. It’s more like a cross country marathon that winds up and down craggy mountains and through dark valleys.

If there were never any mountains to climb or valleys to struggle through, where would we win the victories that God longs to celebrate with us?

Even in the darkest valleys, I can trust that He is choosing the best path to life and healing for me.

Even in the darkest valleys, every day I wake up.. He is still with me.

Even in the darkest valleys, I can keep my eyes on Him and I can trust that He has done the math and has a plan for me.

Even in the darkest valleys, I can trust the God who knows me, the One who saw me in my mother’s womb. I can trust that He sees and knows my heart, my joys and my sorrows. His thoughts about me can’t be numbered.

HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT ME CANNOT BE NUMBERED!!

HE HAS DONE THE MATH!

HE HAS A REDEMPTIVE PLAN FOR MY LIFE AND HEALING!

In the darkest valleys, the atmosphere is so heavy that it’s nearly impossible to breathe or think or move. The darkest valleys can feel like backward steps, a failure or a waste, but with God nothing is wasted. He works everything together for our good. (Romans 8:28)

We know this because God took the worst thing that ever happened on our planet (the crucifixion of His Son) and resurrected it into the best thing. That’s what He does. It’s His thing. He has this amazing way with math and planning. We can trust Him with it. Every painful, awkward step through the valley is a step towards life and healing in disguise.

James exhorted:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:2-5

And this is the thing.. when we understand that God is this amazing mathematician with a carefully planed out path for us that sometimes goes through valleys that lead to victories, we can rejoice in middle of the darkest valley.

We can rejoice because God sees us and His thoughts about us cannot be numbered. We can rejoice because we know that steps through valleys are small beginnings that lead to greater victories. We can rejoice because we know that God watches over those small beginnings.. not with an eye to despise them, but with a heart that rejoices over them. We can rejoice because everyday we wake up.. He is still with us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

In the valley, it’s easy to forget the things you learned in the light. It’s easy to forget that God has done the math and has a redemptive plan. In the valley, the father of lies says things like: “You must have really messed up this time because God has obviously turned His back on you, forgotten and abandoned you.” His words echo in the darkness and it’s hard to see through to the light. His lies are against not only our hearts but God’s. His accusations cause stress, guilt and feelings of inadequacy and distrust. His lies INTENSIFY the pain and struggle.

There are times when we need to get loud and declare the Way, the Truth and the Life to our darkest valley. There are times when we need to SHOUT OUT OUR PRAISE to the One who has seen us and known us from our mother’s womb and carefully planned out paths to life and victory for us. There are times when it takes a big, joyful celebration of a small victory to drown out the lies of our enemy and give us a taste of the victory that is coming to keep us going. There are times when we need to stand on the fact that every day we wake up.. He is still with us. There are times when we have to lean in and trust God’s heart and redemptive plan for us even when we can’t understand His ways.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5

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

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not extinguish, till He leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope. Matthew 12:20-21

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30

Three Spiritual Truths in Your Cup

Sweetness overwhelms bitterness:
Exodus 15:26 Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet.

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.

When bitterness springs up, let the LORD show you the tree:

Light overwhelms darkness:
John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Life overwhelms death:
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies. 26 And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Revelation 1:18 I am the living one. I died, but look–I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.

Love,

Jenny

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I Stood at the Door and Blocked

I am allowing myself some time to grieve today. I need it. Pushing myself forward isn’t always the healthy thing to do. Ignoring grief doesn’t make it go away. It only builds under pressure.

We can’t pick and choose which emotions we feel. Pushing down painful emotions suppresses the good ones as well. If I want to “feel” loved by God, I have to work through my painful emotions to get there.

Recently, I’ve slipped back into stoicism and found myself unable to feel. Twenty moves may have something to do with my practice. I’ve learned to gird myself against the loneliness of moving to a new state, against the sadness of leaving friends and this time precious children behind, against the fear of not knowing who I can and cannot trust with my fragile heart.

Just learning my way around town and where basic staples are located in local stores can be a daunting task that demands more mental strength than I possess. Town? Stores? Who am I kidding? I couldn’t find my way around my own kitchen while preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Door after cabinet door was opened before finding the things I needed. Add to that the downsizing we’re doing and I can’t remember if or not I still own the thing I am searching for.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4

Mourning with a humble heart before the Lord puts us in a position to receive God’s comfort.

His “com” from the Latin word meaning nearness – “fort” from the Latin word meaning strong.

His strength near me; fortifying me.

Pushing through while pretending that I am okay denies not only the mourning, but also the comfort my heart so desperately needs. Insensibility makes it nearly impossible to sense His nearness and receive His strength.

Sitting humbly with the truth of my mourning makes room for the Comforter and Spirit of Truth to lead me into all truth (John 16:13).

Psalm 119:28-29
I am overcome by sorrow;
strengthen me, as you have promised.

Keep me from lying to myself;
give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.

I am always asking God to speak His truth to my heart. I am always listening for His still small voice spoken through the truth of His Word.

One of the more powerful ways that God speaks to me is through pictures. One picture is worth a thousand words. A story or a picture can speak to my heart for days on end.

A few weeks ago, God showed me a picture of myself. I was standing at the door of my heart. The door was cracked open, but my foot was barring the door; blocking Jesus from coming in. “I stand at the door and knock” echoed through my heart though all I could “see” was my foot barricading the door.

Much like the church in Laodicea, I was neither hot nor cold. My fear of being overwhelmed by emotions had stifled them.

The first emotions I let in after “seeing” myself and my foot barring the door were anger and frustration.

Cold. It was something. I was feeling again.

Revelation 3:14“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

I desperately WANTED and DIDN’T WANT Jesus to come in. I was at the door. It was cracked open, but barred. I wanted to remove my foot, but I didn’t know how. I wanted Jesus to comfort me because I was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. But the position of my foot said, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. Who, me, Jesus? I am good. I’ve been doing this grief thing for awhile now. I’ve done this moving thing SO many times. I am pushing through. I don’t need to feel right now; not grief nor comfort. I’ve got this.”

I’ve got nothing.

I am wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I am weak and vulnerable. I am afraid. I am easily overwhelmed. I am not the person I was before. My heart is shattered and broken. I miss the old me. The blissfully ignorant me. The me that knew nothing of being wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I miss the me who was confident in her unshaken faith. I miss the me that didn’t needed time to mourn so that she could find comfort.

Verse 18:

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

How do we “buy” gold refined in the fire?

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

We receive the love of God in the form of a rebuke and discipline. We repent earnestly. We change our minds by renewing them in His Word and allow Him to transform our hearts.

In this way, we become truly rich.

We listen to His voice and open wide the door to our hearts. We invite Jesus in and “sup” (KJV) with Him. We eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:56).

We REMEMBER Christ broken and crucified for us; just as the bread was broken and the wine poured out for us (Luke 22:19). We rejoice “inasmuch as” we “participate in the sufferings of Christ” so that we may be “overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13)

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. – 1 Peter 2:21

 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4

Not blessed are those who never suffer, who never mourn, who never need comfort.

We remember:

In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. – Isaiah 63:9

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. – 1 Peter 1:6

I shouldn’t miss her. I should count her crucified with Christ. I should count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ, my Comforter, who now lives in me (Galatians 2:20, Philippians 3:8).

I should joyfully embrace the new, refined me that is coming out of the fire with a proven, genuine faith which is of greater worth than gold. The one not made “rich” by her own failing strength or “clothed” in her own failing righteousness… but in His.

Partaking of the suffering that I have been called to in Christ, welcoming His comfort, is becoming a salve to my eyes so I can see.

Truth spoken to my heart is this: I’ve mourned a me that I believed was a stronger and happier me, but who in truth was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Unproven.

It’s only through trials that we can buy what is genuinely real; of greater worth than gold. Untested faith is not proven faith. Genuine faith, real strength comes through the fire when our pitiful, human strength is consumed and we learn to draw from His supernatural strength and comfort. It’s only there that we learn that His grace IS sufficient. It’s only there that we learn that He will faithfully and lovingly carry us through ALL our days.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

That is why, 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 12:9-10

Before losing Joel, I thought grace was the power to float through life. I believed grace was the gift of self sufficiency.

I am beginning to see that grace is the “gift” of sharing in Christ’s suffering. It’s the gift of finding the end or our own strength and sufficiency and the beginning of His. It’s the gift of a “thorn” that keeps us from becoming conceited.

2 Corinthians 12:7b Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

His strength in my weakness far surpasses the strength I thought I had before I suffered. His glory far surpasses any fading human glory.

My heart struggles to see how tragedy can bring glory to God. I used to believe that the kind of life that would bring the most glory to God would be one where His children lived fairytale lives; free from weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties. I believed that was the kind of life God most desired for His children.

But I am beginning to see that fairytale lives produce an arrogance; a self-sufficiency that says, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” They produce a blindness to our wretchedness, pitifulness, real poverty, blindness and nakedness. Fairytale lives fail to produce a proven faith and strength that can only come the desperate need to draw from God’s real, tested comfort (near strength).

The people who I have always most admired are people like Corrie Ten Boom and Joni Eareckson Tada who have been deeply broken and have found God to be their source of continual strength and comfort. I see more of His kindness, mercy, empathy and goodness in them. I see a deeper faith in the broken; roots that have dug in deep and grown strong through terrible storms. I see a glory and a radiance that can have only come through the testing of their faith; Christ residing in and strengthening them.

So this striving against my brokenness …against my weakness; this longing for my old, less tested faith; this pining over a the loss of a more “fairy-tale-ish” life has to come to an end. I must consider it all as loss. I must let the truth sink in.

The truth is every good fairytale is filled with danger and hardships and every hero emerges out of difficulties and testing.

I must offer my struggle as a sacrifice. I must mourn. I must submit to my need for God’s comfort; my need for His nearness and strength.

The secret of contentment with weakness and vulnerability?

“I have strength for all things in the One strengthening me.” – Philippians 4:13 (Berean Literal Bible)

The only way I can remove my foot from barring Jesus’ entrance through the door of my heart is by embracing this new, broken me; embracing my weakness, my need to mourn, and my need to receive His comfort.

My weakness opens the door for His Spirit of Comfort and Truth.; makes way for His glorious strength.

He has counseled us to buy from Him gold refined in the fire so that we can be truly rich and wear the white garments of His righteousness and strength and have salve to put on our blind eyes so we can see.

2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Love,

Jenny

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