In the Dumps?

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Depression isn’t a normal emotion for me, but I’ve had my share of it this week due to a recent crisis in our family.  (Read previous posts.)

Depression is stifling. Not fun. Even a little bit scary.

Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him… ~Psalm 42:5  (Even David is found here to be chiding himself out of the dumps!)

Sometimes circumstances can overwhelm us, and Satan would like us to believe that it’s sinful and shameful to be depressed. He also wants us to believe we can solve our problems in our own strength.

New flash! We can’t.

Are you depressed?

Get some sunshine.

Exercise.

Do a project you love.

Listen to edifying music.

Sing praises — even if you don’t feel like it.

Read God’s Word — especially Psalms.

Talk to Him.  Ask for help …

… for He is your Shield, your Glory, and the Lifter of your head. ~Psalm 3:3

Talk to trusted friends and godly counselors.

This is the body of Christ in action …

… for when one part suffers, every part suffers with it. ~1 Corinthians 12:26

You are not alone.

Reach out.  Reach out.  Reach out.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning.  ~Psalm 30:5

That is His promise.

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Life After Sorrow

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We received the life-altering phone call a month and three days ago. There have been some good moments and some not-so-good moments.

Until now, I never understood the horrendous emotions that ebb and flow for the casualties of suicide. One month later, this tragedy still ruthlessly rips at our souls. We miss our grandson desperately and are heartsick that he was hurting so deeply before he left this world.

But, through it all, God’s faithfulness has been evident … and we will all be okay, cloaked in His arms of mercy and love.

We came home to news of my cousin’s death, a birthday invitation, a shower invitation, and bills and tasks galore — a stark reminder that the cycle of life continues.  It does not stop and wait for anyone.

We came home to a fresh new outpouring of love from friends who care about us.  Rainfalls of phone calls … visits … hugs … tears … messages … cards … and, yes, even some yummy food!

We came home to an awkward silence from a few who also care but have made themselves scarce, no doubt in order to avoid saying something they fear might be “wrong.”  We understand, and it’s okay.  I wouldn’t know what to say either.  It can’t be easy.

At any rate, we know we are loved and have deeply appreciated all of the concern and prayers that have gone out for our family.

Admittedly, though, I am a little weepy and a lot tired. And “buzzy.”  Yes, I feel buzzy.  Does anyone understand what I’m talking about?

It’s as if I’m walking around in a vibrating machine which has a continuous numbing effect as I attempt my daily routines.  (The closest comparison would be the feeling we have after taking off roller skates.)

Maybe it’s God’s anesthesia — a blessing in disguise.

My concern runs deep for our daughter and son-in-law who are grieving so, and for all of Tyler’s siblings and the rest of our extended family — aunts and uncles, and younger cousins who looked up to him as a great example.  (He was a great example and always will be in many ways).  They have all been profoundly affected by Tyler’s sudden and unexpected death.

But God …

He stands with us and gives us strength.  This tidal wave did not come as a surprise to Him.  He is carrying us … and the sun will shine again … and He will bring beauty out of these ashes.

Joy will come in the morning.

Glory to His Name, our Risen Savior … the One who conquered sin and death on the Cross for all who would place their faith and trust in Him and Him alone.

And because His body was resurrected, so will ours be when we hear that Trumpet Call!

That is our Blessed Hope.  Our Hope of Glory.

Come, Lord Jesus.  Come.

The Suffering of His Son

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(Please read “Tribute to Tyler” before reading this if you haven’t done so already.)

I spoke with my daughter Kirsten this morning.

She was crying.

I listened.

We cried together.

She said she didn’t know why Tyler had had to struggle for so many years with multiple health problems. She was sorrowing not just over his death, but over the suffering he endured in life.

She was questioning the purpose of it all … as was I.

A little while after we hung up, I “heard” that still small voice,

“It hurt My heart to watch My Son suffer on the Cross, but much good came from it. I know the pain Kirsten and Mike are feeling, and I have placed them in the unique position of knowing MY pain. My people could not make sense of His suffering either, and they were disappointed. This was not their idea of what the promised Messiah had come to do.”

I called to tell Kirsten about this strange thing I had just “heard” deep in my spirit.

“MOM!” she said excitedly, “He spoke exactly the same thing to ME a little while after we hung up!”

And then she went on to say that she is comforted that her Heavenly Father really understands her heartache and that He has enabled her and Mike to identify with the grief He’d had watching HIS own Son suffer.

I also thought of Mary, Jesus’ mother, as she watched her precious One agonize on the Cross.  She also surely wondered, “Why does this have to be?”

Then Kirsten and I talked about Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit —  and all the GOOD that comes from Jesus now being able to live inside us through His Spirit — all the lives that can be changed as He works through His children to reach others for His Kingdom!

Paralleling that … good will come from the relational bridge this will give Kirsten and Mike to reach out to others with the comfort they themselves have received from God in their own brokenness (2 Corinthians 1:4).

They have “earned the right” to speak to others about this kind of sorrow, and God only knows the lives they will impact!  What an incredible platform!

We reminded ourselves that it didn’t just stop with the Father’s pain in the suffering of His Son because JOY came on Resurrection Morning.

Likewise, it doesn’t just stop with our pain in watching Ty suffer and ultimately die because JOY will come in the morning for us also, as we fix our eyes on Jesus.

And just as Jesus’ body was glorified in His resurrection, so will Ty’s imperfect body one day be raised to perfection.  So many parallels!

No more pain.  No more suffering!

He will indeed exchange our spirits of heaviness for garments of praise (Isaiah 61:3)!

What a glorious hope!

~~~~~~~~~

And here is a little “incidental” that precipitated this event: After I had hung up from Kirsten the first time, I received a text from my friend Hope asking how she could pray for us today. I didn’t give her any details but told her I had been on the phone with Kirsten and that she wasn’t doing well. I asked her to pray that God would give me the words she needed to hear because I was going to call her back.

The story above happened after I replied to Hope’s text. I praise God that He spoke to her at that very moment and that she was obedient to contact me and pray right then.

God moved in our lives in a supernatural (and healing) way this morning in direct response to Hope’s timely prayer!

I also believe this amazing story would not have been possible without ALL of your prayers! You all have been diligent in lifting us up to the Father’s Throne, and we deeply appreciate it.

THIS is the body of Christ in action! I marvel at the goodness of our God (and the loving support of His people)!

Thank you, Lord, and thank you all.  We are blessed beyond measure!

Tribute to Tyler, Our Grandson

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Nothing catches God by surprise.

Psalm 139:16b ~ All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

In His foreknowledge, our eternal, omniscient Father knew what Tyler would do that cold winter morning, January 8, 2018.

But we didn’t.

Warren and I were 1400 miles from home, visiting our daughter Alicia and her family.  Ben, her husband, had already gone to work.  Alicia, our six grandchildren, Warren and I were sitting around the table enjoying a leisurely breakfast when Warren’s phone rang.

That wasn’t unusual.  His phone rings all the time.

But this time it was different.

Bone-chilling screams of shuddersome alarm thundered from Warren’s cell phone to my ears.

Determining that “the caller” was in major distress, I strained to understand the words.  Amidst the garbled inaudible wails, I was eventually able to make out three horrifying words.

I realized that the caller was our oldest daughter Kirsten — not because I recognized her voice, but because of those three words that I did understand:

“Tyler shot himself!!!”

Words cannot describe the anguish I felt once I realized that the deafening cries coursing through Warren’s phone were pouring from the lips of our daughter, telling us that our oldest grandson had passed away.

The events that followed were a blur.  I only remember writhing on the dining room floor with gut-wrenching screams streaming from the depths of my soul.  “No!  NO!  N000!” as if shouting the words would make it go away.

This was a nightmare.  This wasn’t happening!  This was a mistake!

Warren and the grandkids hurriedly loaded boxes and bags into our van, while Ben scrambled to find plane tickets from Duluth to Boise for Alicia and myself.  We began throwing our belongings helter-skelter into our carry-ons; and before I knew it, we were being whisked away in a jet plane.

At the same time, our other two daughters, Lindsay and Rebekah, were flying from their respective states — Texas and Maryland.  Warren started the long journey home (alone) in our van after dropping us off at the airport, and Ben took the children back to their Wisconsin home.

Kirsten desperately wanted me to be there with her — first, because I was her mom; second, because I knew the sting of death, for we had lost our only son (Kirsten’s brother) in an accident in 1986.

Had we been home, I would have been a short 2 1/2-hour drive away, but this trip was going to take much longer.  How I wanted (and needed) to be with my grief-stricken girl!!!

On the several-hour flight across the country (with two long layovers), I mused about another time that Kirsten was crying for her mama.

We were sitting in my car in the hospital’s parking lot where five-year-old Tyler had been rushed to ER after collapsing.  I remembered my daughter falling into my arms with body-wracking sobs after being told of Tyler’s diagnosis —  juvenile diabetes.

The thought that she would be responsible for keeping her little boy alive for the duration of his childhood was a heavy burden that brought fear to my girl’s heart.

I searched for comforting words.

Comforting words eluded me.

She wept bitterly.  I wept with her.

We prayed.

God heard.

As time went on, I stood in awe of our Great Prayer-Hearing-Prayer-Answering God, as I witnessed Tyler easing into his new way of life, and Kirsten valiantly learning all she could about the disease with a strong resolve to control her son’s erratic blood sugars.

Tyler and I had special times together.  He loved to have me read stories to him when he was little.  (I saw evidence of great intelligence!)

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In the winter, we made awesome snow angels, while he and his grandpa built some pretty amazing snowmen together.

In the summertime, we floated on paddle boats and tossed pieces of bread to ducks.  We ate pizza together and watched hot air balloons.

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His grandpa likes to tell stories of Ty going to the shop with him.  Warren let Tyler operate some of the big machinery — his all-time favorite was the forklift.  He also enjoyed riding up and down on the electric hoist and turning the creeper into a skateboard!  Papa’s shop was better than any amusement park for that boy!

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As Ty grew older, however, he became more and more discontent with the constant need to monitor his blood sugar and the accompanying restrictions.

Tyler had had a dream to follow in his father’s footsteps by serving in the military.  That dream, however, would now be thwarted because of his diabetes.

This crushed him.

But then he learned that he could still be a hero by becoming a firefighter.  So this is what Ty pursued with gusto!  When he was invited to choose a destination by The Wishing Star Foundation, he chose Ground Zero in New York City where he was able to meet real firemen, ride in a fire truck, and gain a good understanding of his future career.

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Ty never gave up on his dream, despite many hardships with his health.  He was a great student in school — his teachers loved him — and he continued to be as active as he could be, even taking up rock climbing as a favorite pastime!  Ty did not lie around feeling sorry for himself!

He went to fire school and was given the Rookie of the Year Award in 2016.  Firefighting was his passion!  We were (and still are) extremely proud of him!

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Yet, even though he was now this big guy with an important job, he still made time for his “grammey.”  He always called me “Grammey,” as do all of my grandkids.  (There is a reason for that spelling, but I won’t go into it here.)

So here he was, a twenty-year-old man, introducing me to his big, tough buddies as “Grammey”!

I wanted to relieve Tyler of what I thought might be an embarrassment to him, or a misguided obligation to call me that, so I told him he didn’t have to call me Grammey now that he was a grown man — that he could introduce me as his “grandma.”  But Tyler was incensed by that suggestion and reprimanded me.

“You are my grammey, and you will always be my grammey!”

I guess he put me in my place!

Tyler texted me occasionally and sometimes called just to check up on me.  That boy loved me and I loved him.

There was the time I peppered him with texts when his sister Hayley was in labor.  I informed him of her progress every few minutes, just to get a rise out of him.  But, bent on getting the last word — which, in this case was absolute silence — he never replied; so my only recourse was to keep flooding his inbox with “pertinent birthing information,” which is what I did — from 4:36 am until 9:02 am, to which he finally replied, “Any news???”

I told him he was a “brat,” but that I “loved [him] anyway.”  I still have all of my texts with Ty, and I will keep them for as long as I live.

The last time we were together, he joked, “I run into buildings to save people, but my life is not fulfilled if I don’t have Grammey!”

And yes, he used that name!  He said that, in fact, he “had a tear in his eye, just thinking of being with [me] again,” wiping away a fake tear and continuing to schmooze me, much to my delight!

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Then there was the time that he caused me to literally faint with fright, but the joke was on him because he nearly had to use some of his life-saving techniques to bring me back!  It served him right!

How I will miss the laughter we enjoyed together!

Ty was highly respected by his fellow firefighters.  The West Valley Fire District of Oregon (where he was when he passed away) is going to hold a memorial picnic in Ty’s honor, celebrating their Rope Rescue Certification for Firefighters (which Tyler helped them acquire with passionate persistence — even boldly stepping out of “protocol” to push it through, which was so “Ty-esq”).

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However, in September of 2017, something happened that caused Tyler to spiral downward with depression.  He had taken some insulin (his daily routine) and then had gone to fight wildfires which were rapidly spreading all over the west coast.  Because of the extra exertion, along with the regular dose of insulin, his blood sugar dropped and he had a diabetic seizure while on the job.

He was given an ambulance ride back to his home district — a disappointment Tyler never overcame, and a disappointment which ultimately had a part in his passing away three short months later, as he, at that time (unbeknownst to us), had decided to stop taking his long-term insulin so as to avoid another seizure.

When they found him in his car that cold January morning, we were told that his blood sugar was over 850 — an astronomically high level.  A normal reading, I understand, is between 80 and 100.

When Ty had made the decision to take his own life, he could not have been in a state of clear thinking with a sugar level of that degree.  It appears that, for Ty, the pain of life had become greater than the pain of death … so he chose the lesser pain.

The sorrow for us has been intense.  But God’s Spirit has ministered to us in amazing ways — through His Word mostly, but also through music and through His people.

We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and concern of those who love us and those who love Ty.  Thank you to everyone who called, came over, prayed for us and with us, sent cards and text messages, sent flowers, and sent money to our kids to help pay for the funeral expenses.  May God bless you all abundantly for the way you have ministered to our family!

We also thank the West Valley Fire Department for coming all this way to celebrate Tyler’s life with us.  Their words of comfort and the stories they told blessed our family immensely!

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We take great comfort in knowing that, as a younger boy, Tyler had given his heart to Jesus.  He had acknowledged that he was a sinner in need of a Savior and that Jesus was his only hope of salvation.  Tyler had trusted in Christ’s work on the Cross and had received Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.  Awhile later, he had wanted to make his faith public through water baptism (which had been videoed and was shown at his funeral).  Tyler is with Jesus now, and we rejoice in that!  (Please read the italicized portion at the bottom of this article.)

Our Tyler is not “gone” as some would say.  His body is still here, but Tyler is not here.  He has simply moved to a different place — and now he waits, along with saints of old, to be united with his resurrected body.  As Jesus’ body was resurrected, so will ours be (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18), and we will finally be set free from the last trace of the Fall (We Shall See God ~ Charles Spurgeon’s Classic Devotional Thoughts on Heaven ~ Randy Alcorn).

Ty’s resurrected body will be glorious!  No more pain.  No more suffering …

… and no more finger pricks!

And our Mighty God will wipe away every tear … and He will right every wrong.

THIS is our Blessed Hope … and to Him be the glory!

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He is Risen Indeed!

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If you are hurting, please do not take your own life.  God has a plan to give you a future and a hope. You have a purpose.  No matter how bad things may seem to you right now, please do not rush into the Throne Room of God before your time.  I encourage you to find strength and peace from the Lord to keep on living.  

Also, please seek out friends and medical professionals.  Cultivate relationships with them so they can comfort and help you in your pain.  God wants to bring you through this.  There is a better way.  The sun WILL shine again.  

And remember … there is no hole so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.  My life verse, since coming to know Jesus as my Savior in 1977, has been Psalm 40:1-3.  I came upon that passage when I myself was despairing because of circumstances in my life, and God did exactly this for me … and He can (and will) do it for you if you will turn to Him.

Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Have you put your trust in Him?  Here is how you can do that:

  1.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Talk to God, confessing to Him that you have done wrong things.
  2. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).  Acknowledge to God that you do not deserve to go to heaven based on your own merits.  Acknowledge that eternal life is a gift offered to you by God Himself through His Son’s work on the Cross.
  3. To as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12). What do you do when someone offers you a gift?  You accept it.  You open it.  You appropriate it.  Through prayer, invite Jesus into your heart and life as your personal Lord and Savior, trusting only in Him.
  4. Find a good Bible-believing church that teaches salvation through Christ’s blood that was shed for you — not good works, nor membership in a “certain church,” for there is only One Way to heaven, and that Way is through Christ, and Christ alone Hebrews 10:25 says not to forsake the assembling together with other believers in Jesus.  

Problems will still come.  Life on this planet isn’t easy.  But with Jesus in your heart, you will never be alone, for He says he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Look to Him … and live.

 

There Arose a Great Storm

Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 4.20.35 PMIn loving memory of our grandson, Tyler Michael Steen, who passed away unexpectedly on the morning of January 8, 2018.

And there arose a great storm. Mark 4:37

Have you noticed that some storms of life come suddenly?

They unexpectedly rush from the distant, jagged edges of the horizon to consume our bright and sunny skies.

Yet it is in the storm that God equips each one of us for platforms and areas of service that we’d rather not have (but which have been designed specifically for us).

I wonder why it has to be that way …

… but then I think about the beauties of nature that come after the storm.

… and I think about the heroes of faith who were tempest-tossed and battle-scarred, yet left their victories in the footprints of time.

Storms can pound us down into the darkened valley of bitterness and cynicism, or they can lift us up to the sunlit summits of a deeper and richer faith.

(How can we not remember our beloved Corrie ten Boom who taught us this principle with incredible dignity and grace?)

Lord, if it takes storms to become more tender, to become more compassionate, to become more useful in Your Kingdom, to become more like You who suffered and died for us, then do what You must to make me into the kind of woman You want me to be.

May I fear no storm. May I fear no THING or no ONE …

… no ONE but You.

Amen.

 

Strangely Dim

Some of my friends and I are doing a study called Healed and Set Free, by Tammy Brown.  It has to do with inducing healing by lancing the wounds of the past in order to let out the poisons.

Past.

I remember the pain of dealing with past hurts in a study years ago called Breaking Free, and I did find healing from the “past.”  I can say in all honesty that I give no thought to past offenses — because that is exactly where they are … in the past!  They are over.

But what about offenses that are in the present?  How is it possible to relinquish all pain from past offenses, yet continue to be plagued by the sting of current offenses?

As Christians, we know about Matthew 15:15: If your brother or sister sins [acts wrongly], go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.  This is what we are called to do, and it will diffuse all kinds of trouble.

However, some cases are easier than others.  

And so we can vacillate between resentment and the more “spiritual” response of … praying about it.

Being fully aware that resentment releases poisons into our system that rob us of health and happiness, I asked the Lord to give me a tool for when I encounter such situations.

And, oh!  He is FAITHFUL!

The Lord reminded me that He sees way below our surface needs, and that He is interested first in changing us, rather than in changing our circumstances!

He knows that we need more than “a tool” to deal with difficult relationships and/or conditions.

I recently asked Him to help me with a situation, and He began to deal with me as only He can.  With His still, small voice, He penetrated my soul, removing all doubt that it was His Spirit speaking deep into my prone-to-wander heart.

Out of the blue, I heard these words to a great old hymn that we sometimes sing:  “…and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

If I were truly caught up in His love as I should be, the sting of offenses, or of threatening situations, wouldn’t even rate on my radar!  These things would grow “strangely dim” in an unexplainable way if I could only get lost in His Glory!

But how do we get lost in His Glory when we’re feeling the pain of stinging words, rejection, or scary stuff?

In my own dealings, I asked the Lord to help, and He brought something to mind that actually has humanistic underpinnings — Maslow’s Hierarchy.

“But, LORD!  You know how I feel about Maslow’s Hierarchy!  It’s all about ‘self’ actualization!” I argued.  For that reason, I considered dismissing the promptings.

“This can’t be God. He wouldn’t use MASLOW 

… or would He?”

Well … actually … God can use anything He wants to use in order to plant an essential, life-giving message deep into our hearts.

After all, didn’t He use a donkey once?

And so this picture came to mind (except I always add Actualization of  “Others” to the pinnacle):

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I decided to be quiet and listen.

God’s Spirit proceeded to teach me, but not in audible words.

This is how the “impressions” came to me.

God: I know you understand that if you are dying for lack of oxygen, food, and water, you do not care if you’re being chased by a bear.  All you care about is getting your next breath and some sustenance, right?

Me:  That’s right, Lord.

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God:  Well, it’s the same way with Me.  My Word is the Air you breathe … the Bread of Life … the Living Water.  Do you want Me more than you want safety from this difficult person (or situation)?  If you do, the lack of “safety” that you are experiencing with your offender (or this threat) would grow strangely dim” in the light of your need for air, food, and water … ME.  Would it not?

Me:  Uhhhh … y e s ? ? ?

God:  Now let’s go to the next level.  Let’s say you have all of your physical needs met, yet you feel alone in the world.  You have no family or friends — no support of any kind from anyone — everyone has turned against you, and it is causing you great anguish and sorrow.

Me:  I’m listening, Lord.

God:  A mama bear comes out of nowhere, stands on her hind legs, roars an earth-shattering roar at you, bores her eyes into your soul with the clear desire to kill — razor-sharp, daggar teeth glisten in the sun, threatening your very existence!  How much are you going to care about whether you “belong” or are “loved” by anyone?

Me:  Not much at all, Lord.  I would just want to run for my life!

God:  Correct.  Your desire for love and belonging is suddenly shrouded by your desire to flee from the mama bear.  The “belonging and love” tier in the pyramid will grow “strangely dim” in the light of escaping the bear attack, right?

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Me:  I think I’m beginning to “get it,” Lord.  I should be as consumed by YOU as I would be by the bear — so much so that I wouldn’t even think about whatever is plaguing me, just as I wouldn’t think about the next level up on Maslow’s pyramid!

From there, I was able to extrapolate — measuring “love and belonging” against self-esteem, and so on, all the way to the pinnacle, beyond “self-actualization” to my own made-up end: “actualization of others.”

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Mystery solved!  This would be the key to overcoming negative emotions!  Look unto God my Savior — the Author and Finisher of my life — even in all things undesirable!

And so, the consternation that I sometimes feel as a human being is not an indictment against an offender or a situation — it is an indictment against myself!  It is a red light — a signal to me that I need to “check my engine” and change my focus — to repent with godly sorrow, confess with true contrition, and turn ALL my attention to the One who is noble, right, pure and lovely — the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and Him alone …

When I have a strong foundation in Him — when I turn my eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face — then the peace of God will fill my heart and mind indeed, as the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!  

I can do this … with His help.

And so can you.

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Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free:

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are!

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

His word shall not fail you He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well.
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

 

Formidable Foes

Sometimes it feels like we are being crushed under the weight of our circumstances, burned by the fire, devoured by the lions, and gouged by the thorn!

That’s when we need to remember the Hebrew children who were calm and composed because of their faith in God, in the midst of the torturous chamber of flames.

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That’s when we need to remember the long night Daniel stood quietly among lions, trusting in his God.

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That’s when we need to remember the 40 days and nights that Jesus Himself endured a special trial as His human nature was weakened for lack of food and rest.Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 11.03.44 AM

That’s when we need to remember the Divine help Paul received when his thorn remained after pleading three times that it would be removed.

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We have a plethora of examples from scripture of others who dwelled in the presence of the enemy while dwelling in the presence of God.

They all looked to their God … I mean really looked to Him …

and He gave them supernatural strength to trust in the midst of tremendous pressure …

and they were not consumed by the forces against them. 

So does it seem to you that you are on the brink of disaster because furious flames are licking at your heels, ravenous lions are smacking their lips, and prickly thorns are digging into your flesh?

Here is a thought for you:

Could it be that, though God oftentimes allows us to be placed in difficult positions (for His own good reasons), we can trust that He has set a table before us in the very presence of these enemies?

Can we trust that He is a Shelter from the storm?

Can we trust that He is a Fortress amidst our foes?

He tells us these things for a reason.  He wants us to believe that He will provide what is needed for us to walk the walk to which we’ve been called. 

We often pray that we will be delivered from calamities — and there is nothing wrong with that!

But do we also ask God to mold us to His liking in the midst of the calamities? 

Do we ask Him to help us live within the furious flames until they’re extinguished — without the singeing of one hair, or even the smelling of smoke — trusting that we are being sheltered, yet refined by Him? 

Do we trust that we will not be devoured by the hungry lions for as long as we’re hedged in with them, knowing that we are also being held in the tender arms of our Great Shepherd? 

When we throw all of our faith and trust in Him, do we believe that we will emerge stronger, gentler, and perhaps a little more useful in His Kingdom? 

O, Lord, help us to shout a resounding ‘yes’ to all of those questions!    Help us to live victoriously in the hard places of life, fixing our eyes on You. 

Jeremiah 45:5 ~ Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life. 

John 16:33 ~ These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Daniel 3:17-18 ~ If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

Romans 14:8 ~ If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

See Streams in the Desert, November 30, for more on this subject.