For Those who Hold a Light of Hope…to Help

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Often we don’t hear the words. “Your voice counts. Your presence makes a difference.” So many times those beside someone digging through a dark wall, can wonder if they are any help.

 

Sometimes we underestimate the power of our presence.

Holding a light of hope while they chip away at a tunnel toward freedom feels paltry compared to their groans. Even bolstering words can sound limp. “Hang in there.” “God will see you through.”

Just being there shows empathy and value. They often feel lost and alone, too weary to respond. To say thank you one more time, in their seeming never-ending marathon.

Recently, I was surprised by a comment after a meeting, “Your voice was needed today.” It had brought change and relief to someone holed in bureaucracy.

Loyalty. Faithfulness. Love in action. Maybe you feel it is not much. After all, you cannot chip at the tunnel for another. It is their course.

They must lift their own feeble arms and use their own strength to advance through the quarry facing them daily. They must bear the weight of dirt laden boots shuffling through the quagmire of bleak circumstances day after day. It is their cross, and the Lord is with them. He has given them enough grace to fight. We are given the insight to pray.

They may face a terrific trial of the soul, oppressed by a demanding boss, unfair teachers or backbiting peers. They may fight insidious inner voices sabotaging their reason and sanity, dominating siblings or spouses, jeering bullies. Medical maladies. Another round of radiation therapy. Complications from the last surgery. A drug-addicted child…or spouse.

Grievous to them…and to us. We wonder too, when will this ever change, God?

Your presence helps them know…you believe this too will pass. It is a struggle for you not to take a boulder in your own hands. Make calls, torpedo words and create your own explosive actions—absent God’s will and plan and timing.

But you have learned about timing. You know, “our times are in God’s hands.” (Psalm 31:15 NIV)  Theirs as yours. You have learned your lessons, navigated your own tunnels.  If you slam the walls too hard from impatience, around and above, the ceiling can cave in. Tunnel passages require a slow chipping, a slow suffering, not a hasty block of dynamite.

Is your voice needed to intervene for a child, a teen, an elderly person, a single parent, those who are sick?

Prayers can take a long time to be answered. Persevere. Pray for tenacity for those moving toward their future goals, derailed easily by dark doubts and haunting yesterdays. Or those weakened from invisible battle wounds of the heart. Ask for fresh words and ways to encourage those with chronic illness or sudden physical setbacks, remembering people cope differently with loss or transition.

We watch and wait in hope. We know when the wall begins to crumble and the light angles through the cracks, they will feel a gust of fresh air shift—that first deep inhalation. We know the tunnel is ending when we glimpse tears pooling in once dull eyes, and shoulders straightening.

Then we will know, as we believe now—we are where we needed to be, doing what God has called us to do. Nothing big, nothing grand. Just to stand. Stand with them hidden from the public eye. Watch and pray trusting God until their breakthrough to hope and peace.

For, if you have been comforted by the Lord and His presence through others, if you have known His patience and faithfulness in your own life, you will be able to encourage others the same way you were encouraged. (2 Corinthians 1:4)

 

Wings of Refuge pt 1

I once heard a story about a ranger scouring a forest after a wildfire and discovering a charred dead bird standing by a tree. Upon hearing chirps he discovered intact live chickies under their mother’s wings. It was a touching story of sacrificial love and protection.

 

David cries out in Psalm 57, “Be merciful to me O God, be merciful to me; for my soul trusts in thee. In the shadow of your wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be passed by.    Isaiah 57:1

 

Life has seasons which can leave us feeling ravaged especially after death, divorce, loss of employment or health, losing a home or savings…any number of things.

 

We all need a heavenly Father for protection and refuge. The Bible is clear to assure us of His presence, comfort and strength especially during these seasons.

 

In Isaiah 43 he declares, “Fear not, I have redeemed you by name. You are mine…when you go through the fire you shall not be burned…because you are precious and honored in my sight.” God loves us. He demonstrated His love through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus to rescue us from sin. He loves us like a parent. We bear His name. He sees us through the trials.

Jesus told us not to worry. He said to look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Matthew 6:26

 

The birds thrive even when they do not reap or sow? Or have a surplus to draw from?  God’s provision cannot be balanced by a  ledger.  I remember a remark my brother made as a missionary. “Even though on paper I fall way short every month of my budget, every month I eat every day and my bills are paid.It doesn’t make sense.” My brother learned to trust God more as a result of his financial situation.

 

Yesterday I ran into a Christian woman who I’ve know many years. “We’re losing our house,” she reported. “But I am at total peace. I’ve turned to God and I know He will provide for us. I told my husband it doesn’t matter, but he’s stopped going to church. And he’s turning to the bottle.”

 

I know how easy it is to turn to false comforts. I used to go shopping. But the temporary good feeling led to a guilt hangover the next day and a worse financial situation. How come we don’t go to God for comfort? We have to learn to let the Lord be our comfort when things are tough.

 

And when we do that, our relationship with Him will grow. Just like the friends who are with us through the tough times are the ones we are closest too. No wonder Paul said in Philippians 2:1 “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, any comfort from His love, any fellowship with His Spirit…?” Jesus said he would not leave us here comfortless, He would send the Holy Spirit our Comforter to come alongside and help us. Why don’t we turn to Him?

Disappointments and Priorities

One of the hardest parts of life is watching our dreams seem to walk away, fall apart, crash and burn—die. There’s so many times and so many ways disappointment and loss can plunge us into despondency…

My friend’s son got his “dream car,”He was so happy and excited. Two weeks later it’s crumpled in a ditch.
Paula’s boss said her job was secure upon questioning. The next day he said, “Pack up.”
My friend married finally in her forties; her husband topped her credit and left within months.
Joe had a Christian business partner walk away with all the cash and a ton of work orders for him to fill alone.
Another friend was horribly ill their honeymoon week in Hawaii. Her groom did everything alone; she spent her time languishing and feverish in the room.
Another friend’s baby was born with a serious deformities.
It’s been five years since having a date, let alone a boyfriend. Or ten.

These are all losses. Loss is a large corner in the corral of life, and it is never easy to take that lap through it although we have no choice.
It is part of the abundant life, the highs and the lows, the pain and the joys…Loss is common to man. We build our lives holding hands with one or more people so when loss hits us we have someone holding us up, even if just in prayer for a time.

The good news is …”this too will pass.” What will life look like in a year? In six months? The boy now has another car, the woman is enjoying her life without that job, the baby is doing well following surgeries and intervention, the bride is now a satisfied mother of two…the woman is dating a man for months already- she met on the internet. We have to get through the dying times knowing life’s scales will tip again…to life. To balance.

St Augustine said, we don’t need to prioritize our lives, we need to prioritize our loves. Our first love, to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul, strength and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is possible every day.

Despite disappointment, the seasons change. God is faithful to change them. To make all things new. Nothing remains static as the world turns. Faith, hope and love remains until the end. Today how can we prioritize our loves?

Ordering our Thoughts

THere is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship and gentle receptiveness to divine breathings
Thomas Kelly