Distress

You know them, just like I do.

Right now–this very day–you could probably name a family member who is struggling in some way.

You’ve likely heard of a devastating car accident in your area, or a house fire.

People that have always seemed healthy now have cancer; some are young.

Some are older.

Maybe just this year you’ve had good friends get a divorce.

Others may be grieving tremendously because someone they loved very much has died.

You know them, just like I do.

As Christians, what are we to say to comfort others who are facing strong difficulties?

I often listen to the radio on my drive to work.

There is a song that has found its way into my heart for quite some time now.

It is titled, “Just Say Jesus” by the group 7eventh Time Down.

Here is a portion of the lyrics:

Life gets tough, and times get hard
It’s hard to find the truth in all the lies

If you’re tired of wondering why
Your heart isn’t healing
And nothing feels like home
Cause you’re lost and alone just screaming at the sky

When you don’t know what to say
Just say Jesus
There is power in the name
The name of Jesus
If the words won’t come
Cause you’re too afraid to pray
Just say Jesus

Whisper it now, or shout it out
However it comes out, He hears your cry
Out of nowhere He will come, you got to believe it
He will rescue you
Just call out to the Way, The Truth, The Light

As believers of Jesus, we know that there is power in the name of Jesus.

I think it is very good advice to tell someone who is hurting that they can just speak the name of Jesus as they struggle to even form words in the midst of devastating circumstances.

In fact, I think it is very good advice to remember it ourselves.

When we are hurting, we can just say, “Jesus” and He will hear us.

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.

—Psalm 18:6

 

my cry

 

Able to Give

 

As I stood in the backyard of a friend’s house, I admired the calm scene of water as it reflected the cloudy sky and the surrounding trees.

The afternoon visit was a contemplative one.

My friend and her husband had suffered a great loss.

Their infant son—only a few days old—passed away while in the hospital recently.

I am hoping that I will be able to comfort them in the coming weeks and months.

God has comforted me during times of loss, as well.

My husband and I lost a child through miscarriage and another child in an accident.

How can I help my friends?

The Bible says,

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

2 Corinthians 1:4

Is there someone you could comfort and encourage today?

 

comforts us

In Every Situation

 

 

 

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.

—2 Thessalonians 3:16

 

What can we do when bad news arrives?

Last week, we found out that the young son of someone we know has leukemia.

About the same time, some new friends of ours had a baby very prematurely and the baby died.

What could be said at times like these?

I am not a doctor, so I would not have been able to advise either couple on medical issues, even though I really do care.

Nor am I able to heal a broken heart, even though I hope for that healing.

Jesus is the Lord of peace, however, and He can carry any of us through any and every situation—even illness and death.

How does He do that?

I don’t know.

I just know that He knows all things and He is able to do all things.

Even when it seems impossible, He can comfort and heal.

His peace

 

For You Are With Me

It’s a perfect day, really. 

The sky is clear and the temperature is mild. 

Even though it is cold and wintry in many places at this time of year, in my own yard wild flowers are blooming and new, green leaves are sprouting from plants. 

It was a very good day for a funeral, and that is where I have been this morning. The father of a very good friend passed away. 

The service was encouraging as the pastor spoke of my friend’s father and the importance of having a relationship with God, our Heavenly Father. 

After arriving home, I went about my day as usual. While pausing to look out my front door, I noticed the shadow of a small, barren tree on the walkway. 

Immediately, I thought of this verse from the Bible:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

—Psalm 23:4

God will never leave us. 

He removes fear from our hearts. 

He comforts us. 

Even through the valley….

 

To Be With Me

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It really needed to be done.

It was definitely time to throw some things away, straighten up, clean and rearrange.

The “office” room is where my computer lives, along with two bookshelves that are packed and a host of other important (to me) items.

Things like old photo albums, camera boxes and a microphone stand.

A hard hat that I wore while on a tree logging tour. (What????)

A wooden back scratcher given to me while staying at a cottage on the Gulf of Mexico.

Even a hand made (but not functional) shofar used in one of the musicals I directed years ago.

You know…..stuff like that.

While going through a stack of papers, I found a little Polaroid photograph of our second son as a young child.

As I recall, there was an event at church where children were supposed to dress up as animals.

One of the men at the church dressed as Noah.

Each child could have their portrait made with Noah.

According to the sign on the wall in the picture, portraits were available for 50 cents each.

Years later, our son was killed in a car accident as a teenager…..

As I picked up the old photo of our son and the “pretend” Noah, there was a split second of grief shooting into my heart.

Following right behind it with lightning speed, these words came to my mind:

“He’s with the “real” Noah, now.”

Yes.

That’s right.

My son knew Jesus while here on Earth, and God has given me assurance that he is in Heaven right now.

I don’t think I’ve ever considered that my son is able to see Noah and talk to him.

It just hadn’t crossed my mind.

What was the cost to be with Noah in Heaven?

Much more than all the money in world.

It cost the death of Jesus on the cross.

My son is with Jesus today, along with Noah and countless others.

Now, when I look at that picture, joy springs forth.

Thank You, God, for bringing comfort out of pain. Thank You for salvation and the promise of Heaven for those who believe.

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Jesus said,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

—John 14:1-4

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the place

I Leave With You

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Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

–John 14:27

Jesus comforted His disciples by saying these words.

I think He wants me to be comforted by them, as well.

When so much is going on around me that constantly invites worry, I can have peace.

Jesus says, “My peace I give you.”

Jesus says, “I do not give to you as the world gives.”

Jesus says, “Do not let your heart be troubled.”

Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.”

In my human mind, I can respond with, “But what if…..”

With my surrendered heart, I can respond with, “Jesus, I accept Your peace.”

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peace

Courage

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Courage.

The dictionary defines courage as, “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”

Psalm 3:3-4 reads,

“But, Lord, You are my shield.
    You are my wonderful God who gives me courage.
 I will pray to the Lord.
    And He will answer me from His holy mountain.”

If I were to take the modern definition of courage and consider it in this verse it would be,

“You are my wonderful God who gives me the quality of mind or spirit to enable me to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear. You are my wonderful God who gives me bravery.”

As I stood on the grass by the lake as the sun was setting tonight, I photographed the clouds towering in the sky, reflecting on the calm water below.

I prayed.

God knows that I am in need of some courage.

His courage.

He also knows all the other things I need, too, even though I haven’t realized it yet.

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courage

When I Am Afraid

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I’ve been afraid before.

Afraid as a child.

Afraid as a teenager.

Afraid as an adult.

Fear causes an inner turmoil that grips us, whether we are in a dentist’s chair or waking from a troubling dream.

Whatever the situation may be that causes the response of fear, we are never alone in it.

God does not abandon us when circumstances in life become frightening.

When we are afraid, we can put our trust in God.

We never, ever walk alone….

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When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.

—Psalm 56:3

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afraid

Those In Need

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We have a family member that is ill.

They have been in the hospital for quite some time and their condition has been a matter of prayer through these past days and weeks.

When an illness strikes, it can be overwhelming.

What about treatment?

What about medications?

Which hospital is best?

What doctor should be chosen?

Yesterday and today were especially trying with a lot of details as our family member is being transferred to another hospital.

As I was driving down the highway just before sunset, I suddenly saw a rainbow in front of me.

I stopped the car at a local business and got out to take some photos of the glowing arc in the sky.

Driving a little further, I stopped again—this time at a service station near a lake.

Because it was so beautiful, I just had to have more pictures!

While I was looking at the rainbow, “Everlasting God” by Chris Tomlin came on the radio.

I started singing along, agreeing in my heart that God truly is the everlasting God.

He comforts those in need.

Our family is in need right now.

I am reminded that God will meet our needs as our hope is in Him.

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You are the everlasting God,
The everlasting God,
You do not faint, You won’t grow weary

You’re the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need,
You lift us up on wings like eagles

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord…

—Chris Tomlin

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He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

—Isaiah 40:29-31

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weary

So That We Can

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Driving home from work today, I passed a residential area.

For some reason, I thought about a senior citizen couple that lives there.

I haven’t seen them in quite a while.

Still, I remember their kindness from almost fifteen years ago.

My family and I were experiencing some very difficult circumstances.

This couple hosted a weekly prayer gathering at their home in a nearby town.

Someone who attended their gathering asked for prayer for us.

Just praying for our family would have been a wonderful thing.

This couple, however, went the extra mile.

Actually, it was the equivalent of several miles.

First, we received a phone call from them, inviting us to a service at their church.

After church, they wanted to buy lunch for our entire family of six at a nice restaurant.

When we arrived at the church, they were waiting outside the door, truly excited to meet us.

It was like we were long lost relatives that they had finally found!

This began a relationship of love and support as they continually reached out to us.

I remember them even taking our youngest two children out for put-put golf and to an animal petting zoo….

God’s love streamed from them into our family.

We joined their church and became very involved in many of its ministries.

Today, as I thought of how they had reached out to us when they had not yet even met us, a feeling came over me.

It wasn’t words in my mind but more of an encouragement in my heart.

An exhortation to be more like this couple.

A reminder to be more giving.

I will always remember how God loved us in that difficult time in our lives through the generosity and genuine care of those two precious people.

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

—2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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comfort

He Comforts Us

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When I came out of the meeting, the sun was just beginning to set.

Most of the sky was riddled in clouds and it was raining.

Other people were exiting to the outside, as well.

I said something like, “I love it when it rains and the sun is shining!”

Getting into my car, I began to drive as I witnessed a magnificent display of color and beauty as the sun’s rays painted the monochrome clouds in a brilliant array.

Stopping the engine on a street, (no other cars were in sight) I snapped a photo or two.

For at least the next twenty minutes, I watched the various hues emerge in intensity within the moving clouds.

I began to think—

It had been raining.

The sun had been shining through the rain.

For some reason, we associate rain with difficult times and sunshine with happy times.

Thinking along those lines, I was experiencing a visual representation of “happy difficulty.”

How can circumstances bring us happiness and still be difficult and trying at the same time?

Life can get hard.  Really hard.

So much can go wrong.

But, along with the struggles, we can become aware of God’s presence through it all.

His light can begin to blaze through the rain, creating a spectacle of radiance that captures our gaze and draws us away from the storm.

At these moments, we are aware of both our problems and His presence.

2 Corinthians 1:4 tells us,

“He comforts us whenever we suffer. That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God.”

God does not leave us alone…

even when it rains.

 

H