Today I was reading about a guy Jesus healed. Normally, the healing would be the inspiration for a post. But this time, it was something less noteworthy that inspired me: “One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. (John 5:5) Thirty-eight years. 13,870 days. 332,880 hours. Many of us have struggled or are struggling. What struck me about this man’s struggle is how long it lasted. What struck me even more was Jesus knew that. I don’t know if this is going to encourage everyone, but I hope it encourages someone. Your pain is not in vain. God didn’t forget about your struggle, get distracted by another’s, or lose track of the days you’ve struggled with it. The intersection of this man’s 38th year of struggle with the day Jesus was there to heal it, was planned and purposed with perfection. I wonder if this man thought on the 13,869th day that he’d never be healed. But the timing was perfect because Jesus Christ is perfect. If the perfect Savior is in your heart, the perfect Savior is in your struggle. Every. Hour of Every. Day. | This side of Heaven, we won’t always know the point of our pain. But to some degree, I am comforted that it isn’t wasted. My pain (and your pain) isn’t in vain because we are in the risen hands of a Savior who’s hands had stakes crucify them. Our pain isn’t in vain because our stories are His victories.
Sometimes, there are no words. I’m reminded of Job in the bible. In chapter 2, he’s in the middle of a total life-collapse. He’s lost everything. Although we often use this story to illustrate what his friends did wrong, I want to highlight something they did right. In Job 2:13 it says, “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.” Sometimes, someone you love will go through something and you don’t know what to say or what to do. In the last few years, whether visiting an ICU, sitting in a grieving family’s home, or speaking at a funeral, I’ve learned to understand Job 2. Like Job’s friends, sometimes, in some moments, we need to be there with our bodies, and not our mouths. Words are wonderful, they can encourage, comfort and lift up. But sometimes, so can silence. Jesus was all about words to heal–but as I’ve gotten to know my Lord more–I’ve discovered He was about a touch or presence, too. If you are comforting someone, don’t be afraid to just be there. If Jesus is in your heart, He is being unconditionally manifested through your touch, your prayers, your quiet presence.
This weekend, Hurricane Irma will make its mark somewhere in Florida. On all mental, emotional, financial and physical levels, it’s stressful; laden with “what if’s.” For me, personally, it presents a one-question test: Heather, do you trust me? Circle one: yes | no The bible says, “The LORD is my strength and my defense,” “In those days when you pray, I will listen,” “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,” “Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened,” and “I am with you always.” Although I believe God can give us more than we can handle, I don’t think He leaves us hanging with it. I believe that when He gives us more than we can handle, WITH Him, we can handle it. Back in 2005, when Hurricane Wilma hit, Raul was out of town. I was responsible for a baby, a toddler, an elderly loved-one and a recovering addict. I also had no provisions, no electricity, and no water. If God called prior to Hurricane Wilma and itemized all the stress I’d endure, I woulda said, “Find someone else, I can’t.” But that’s why I’m not God. And that’s some hurricane relief. With God, we don’t have to measure out how much we can handle. We don’t have to worry about leaning on our own strength. We might think we can’t handle anymore…but (thankfully) that isn’t our call. In every crisis, when WE think we can’t handle anymore, we need to rest in God and let Him make the calls. I will never look forward to hurricanes, but I look forward to resting in God. He’s in charge of my life, and the hurricanes. He’s in charge of the beginning and ending of every storm. He knows what lessons we need to learn in them. His hand is upon our lives; His handprint upon our hearts. Trust Him in the hurricane.
When a senseless tragedy hits the headlines it raises a question in many hearts : “where is God when it hurts?” Thankfully, Philip Yancey compassionately and powerfully answered that in his book, “Where is God When it Hurts,” and I highly recommend it. But there is another question I find myself asking, “Where am I when others hurt?” I ask, “what can I do? where can I be? who can I help?” In my summation, there are two things we can do when others hurt. One, pray intentionally, frequently and emotionally. Two weeks ago, when the hurricane was pummeling Texas, I prayed for people I didn’t know…but God knew. I wasn’t where they were, but God was. I didn’t understand their loss, but God did. So I prayed and asked God to help them and send mercies and angels to surround them. The other thing we can do is join the Church in what IT is doing for those who are hurting. Whether we gather for a vigil, send money, deploy volunteers…whatever our Church is doing, we join them in it. Our planet is not well. God is the Healer. The Church is the hospital. And I can be a part of what it is doing to help the hurt and heal the ailing. Wherever you are, if you find yourself asking “Where am I when others hurt?” I hope you are praying and joining the Church in what it is doing. God bless.
Today I read about a guy who didn’t get chosen. Before I continue, let me quickly delineate. If we are God’s kids, we are chosen by God! We are His on earth, and forever in Heaven! This chosen-ness doesn’t change. However, circumstantially, we can be dealt the cards of un-chosen. In Acts 1 it happened to a good guy named Joseph. Joseph was in contention with Matthias to be the disciple to replace Judas (the disciple who betrayed Jesus). The research I did said BOTH candidates were followers of Jesus and met the criteria to be a disciple. After praying, and casting lots, Matthias was chosen. Consequently, leaving Joseph un-chosen. I got to thinking about Joseph. I wonder how he felt, what he felt? He was just as qualified. I let it spin on the rotisserie skewer in my head and two things dawned on me. Joseph’s circumstantial un-chosen-ness didn’t TOUCH his eternal chosen-ness. He was still a kingdom-man, who at this very second is enjoying the eternal gains of Heaven. It’s comforting to know that circumstantial un-chosen-ness can come and go, but our God chosen-ness is here to stay. Also, maybe Joseph wasn’t chosen in the way he aspired, but God chose to choose him still. Two thousand years later, Joseph’s story is in the Greatest Book of all times, encouraging people like you and me today! And if we’re breathing, He’s still writing our chosen-story too–and who knows what chosen-ness awaits us. I hope this encourages someone today.
If you’re a student and bummed because girls are mean, take heart! We’re in this together, because adults can be mean too. Recently I encountered a mean adult (at a checkout). It wasn’t that this person cussed me out or beat me up (although both have happened!). It wasn’t even in the words spoken, because no words were. It was the mean look, directed at me with laser–rude focus. And it hurt. I think there is a distinction between bullying and mean. Today I just want to address mean. Admittedly and ashamedly, I tried to give this person a mean look back. God musta had a good laugh because it was never seen. The person never looked back at me. It hung in the air like a fart in a windstorm. But let me tell you what HAS worked: kindness. Not brown-nosing, not butt-kissing, just simple kindness. Joyce Meyer said “smiling is a language you can use everywhere and it’s the language of God.” I think kindness is a two-part plan. One, let their mean look just brush past you. Who says it has the right to STICK to you, your heart, your mind? They gave you a mean look; but they don’t control where it lands. Let. It. Brush. Pass. And if the window of opportunity presents itself, smile. Not a s.a. smile, not a fake smile, not a b.s. smile. A kind smile. No drama, no confrontation, no middle finger, no sin. Just smile. Remember, mean people are hurting people. If we can keep that in mind, it makes this 2-part kindness plan doable! I’ll stop rambling with my words and close with God’s: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with… kindness.
A few years ago, I read “Conflict-Free Living” by Joyce Meyer. It slapped me senseless with its reality-check! There was one chapter that dealt with people who will stop at nothing to be right. Until I read this chapter, it hadn’t occurred to me that Jesus did not do this. Jesus WAS always right YET he was OK with letting people think He was WRONG. Love does that. On the cross…and in life. If digging my proverbial proud-feet in the ground means I’ll win, but at a loss of inciting a shouting-match, invoking relational-bleeds, inflating my pride, or being a bad witness, I must ask: was it worth it? Some things are worth fighting for, and some things are worth letting go. Jesus flawlessly knew the difference. And if He lives in me, I can know the difference too. I don’t want to elaborate too much on this, because I still stink at it. But I’ll leave all of us with this golden nugget to consider: “Stay away from stupid and senseless arguments. These only lead to trouble, and God’s servants must not be troublemakers. “2 Timothy 2:23-24
God can handle what you can’t handle.
God can carry what you can’t carry.
God can heal what you can’t heal.
God can forgive who you can’t forgive.
God can rest what you can’t rest.
God can raise who you can’t raise.
God can love who you can’t love.
God can manage what you can’t manage.
God can forget what you can’t forget.
God can move what you can’t move.
God can accept what you can’t accept.
God can deliver what you can’t deliver.
God can free what you can’t free.
God can resurrect what you can’t resurrect.
God can lift what you can’t lift.
God can mend what you can’t mend.
God can believe who you can’t believe.
God can save who you can’t save.
You can’t. I can’t. But God can.