And the angel said unto them, "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings
of great joy, which shall be to all people."
Some minutes after completing the writing of my blog post last week, I listened to a testimony by a well-known worshipper from Bethel Music, Melissa Helser. I became emotional while listening to her story and felt it complimented my post at that time.
By the age of seventeen, she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis - psoriasis of the skin and the bones. She was told that she had already lost four or five layers of bone in her hands and feet and could become paralyzed in a year and a half. The medication prescribed did not work. She went to a church service where God reminded her that He had given her the authority to fight against her condition and that she should not allow herself to die in it. She then threw away her medication, went on a thirty day fast and was radically healed.
She went on to get married some time later. Unfortunately, a year after having her first child, the disease came back. Little tasks became difficult for her. Years passed and life was challenging and her faith wavered. She finally reached the point where she decided that she was not going to get bitter or disappointed in the Lord. She was going to love her life. She realized that in her desert experience, she was getting to know the Lord and that was where He was proving His love to her. She went back on medication and started experiencing results. God just wanted her to trust Him. Even though people would remind her that she is not healed, she acknowledges that God has given her hope, life, love and grace. She is still able to see the goodness of the Lord in the midst of her suffering.
What I love about this testimony is the reality of it. The reality is, she is still suffering but growing closer to God in spite of it. She could easily focus on the reality of her suffering but she is learning to simply trust God even in the midst of her desert season.
Last week I spoke about “a road in the wilderness” and “rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). Choosing to trust God to lead you and sustain you during your desert seasons is no easy task. It can be so much easier to lean on what your natural senses are experiencing and so it takes a conscious effort to keep focused on the God who will keep you while you go through difficult times.
Melissa’s testimony is not the kind of testimony where everything works out in the end as we would like. Rather, it’s the kind of reality that many people face on a daily basis. It tells us that sometimes it's not about our expected end result but God’s expected end result. At the end of the day, God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours. He doesn’t work with our human logic. We may want the trouble to come to an end. God, however, wants to use the trouble to mold and shape us into who He wants us to be and by extension develop a more intimate relationship with Him.
What I love about Melissa’s story is that people would remind her that she is not healed. She instead focuses, not on her suffering, but on the beautiful things God is doing in her life while she is suffering - He has drawn her closer to Him and she is able to see Him for who He is. He has also blessed her to be able to do things she could not do before, like enjoy time with her family.
As I go through my own challenges, God is reminding me of His presence. He is right there with me, I am not alone. He is fighting for me because the battle is His. I can draw closer to Him as I depend on Him more and more. I experience His grace, strength and goodness and the confidence that His Word and promises are solid rocks I can stand on.
Whatever your challenges, God is right there with you. He has not left you and He never will. He is still good and will still work all things together for your good (Romans 8:28).
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. God will never leave you alone in your suffering. He will be right there, a source of strength, hope, peace and grace.
For the past few weeks, I have been reading the book of Isaiah. I have found some of my favorite verses of encouragement and strength there. One of those verses is the theme verse that heads this blog for this season: “Behold I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" (Isaiah 4:19).
Although I generally have an idea of what “wilderness” and “desert mean and can even conjure up a picture in my mind of what each looks like, I still wanted to see if there was more to these words than just my general understanding.
According to National Geographic’s online definition, “a wilderness is an area of land that has been largely undisturbed by modern human development" and usually lacks "roads, buildings and other artificial structures.” Deserts, on the other hand, "are areas that receive very little precipitation” (rainfall).
As I look at these definitions, I see God’s promises standing out in this verse. He promises to “make a road in the wilderness.” In short, God is the One who will create a way where man may not or cannot. So, no matter how hopeless and lost we may feel in our wilderness season, God is the One who will guide us through safely. The children of Israel wandered around in the wilderness and took longer than they should have taken simply because they refused God’s leadership and guidance. He was going to guide them safely through to their destination but they had to trust Him. We too have to trust God as we go through those difficult seasons. He will guide us, He will direct us in the way we should go, He will create the road that will lead us to where we need to be.
The fact that a desert is an area with very little rainfall catches my attention. There is little chance of finding streams, ponds or even rivers. Yet, God is saying that He will not only make “a river” but “rivers” in this dry area. Only God can produce an abundance of water in an area where little rain falls. He has to do it because we certainly can’t! I am encouraged because while we are in those difficult seasons God will sustain us. It would be nice to speed through those deserts but many times we can’t. We cry out to God, “Lord how long!” not even realizing that God is sustaining and keeping us while we are in our wilderness or desert. The Israelites went through this. As they journeyed through the wilderness, God not only guided them but sustained, protected and provided for them. He provided food (Exodus 16:15) and water (Deuteronomy 8:15) and their clothes and shoes did not wear out during their forty years in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 29:5).
Even as I go through my own challenging seasons, God ever so often reminds me that He is guiding and sustaining me every step of the way. At times, when fear and discouragement rise up, God reminds me that I am not alone, He is with me. This gives me the strength and motivation to keep going and to keep trusting that He will get me through.
Even as you go through, and the journey seems never-ending, remember that as God’s child you can trust that He is with you, He will sustain you and He will guide you. He will do it because when we can't He most certainly can!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. As God’s child, you have His promised presence - His presence that covers, protects and sustains you as you journey through your difficult seasons.
Last week, as I shared on the story of the two storms, one image in particular seemed embedded in my mind - that of Jesus walking across the water to go to His disciples’ rescue. To be honest though, I didn’t actually picture Him walking across the water. I pictured Him marching across those waters with determination to rescue His friends. They were in trouble and needed Him and He was not going to let them down! Yes, I have a very active imagination but it helped concretize in my mind and heart the reality of God’s love for us. It’s never too much for Him to help us. That simply speaks of His deep and committed love for us.
As I turn this over in my mind, I find myself recalling the song, “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury. Some of the lines seem to back up the above image in mind:
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me
Jesus saw His disciples in trouble and He went after them. As I said last week, He didn’t wait for HIs disciples to cry out for help. He realized they were struggling and He went after them. In this case, not even a body of water separating them could keep Him away. Not even the fact that He had no boat could keep Him away. Not even the fact that the waters were rough could keep Him away. I believe that His love for them caused Him to push past the obvious obstacles and make His way to help them. Think about it. God will do the same for you and me.
Years ago, I walked away from God for a brief period. Yes I had fun but the overwhelming emptiness and depression I felt could not be denied. I tried filling that emptiness with worldly things but still felt empty. I realized what was happening to me and why and knew that one day I would return to my God. But God is faithful. He saw my struggle and came to my rescue. As I look back on that season, I realize that, just like the song, God did what He had to do to bring me back to Him. He did it. I could not do it myself. Just like the disciples in the boat, He saw me struggling and came to my rescue.
I don’t know what your struggle is. I don't know what attacks or challenges may be coming against you but God does. He won’t see you and leave you. He will see and come to your aid. It’s what He does, it’s who He is. God is faithful.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. Jesus loves you and He will do whatever He has to do to come to your rescue when you need Him. Sometimes we don’t recognize His help when it comes, or it may not come when we want it to come, but, IT WILL COME! God is faithful!
The word “storm” usually conjures negative feelings and images. Images of turmoil and feelings of fear seem characteristic of one’s expectations of a storm. Over the past few weeks I have found myself sharing on and comparing the story of two storms in the Bible. In the first account (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41), Jesus and His disciples get into a boat intending to sail to the other side. While on their way, Jesus falls asleep. A windstorm comes up and the waves begin to beat into the boat filling it with water. The disciples, terrified, cry out to Him waking Him up from His very comfortable sleep. When He awakens, He simply and calmly rebukes the wind and the sea. Everything becomes calm again.
In the second account (Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-51), Jesus directs His disciples to get into a boat to go to the other side while He Himself goes to the mountain to pray. After awhile, the winds become contrary and the disciples find it difficult to row. Jesus, on land, sees them struggling and goes to them walking on the water. They don’t recognise Him, believing that they are seeing a ghost. However, when He speaks to them they recognise Him. When Peter asks to come to Him on the water, He allows him and Peter leaves the boat and walks towards Him. Unfortunately, when he takes his eyes off of Him, he begins to sink. As he cries out, Jesus immediately reaches out and rescues him. As they both enter the boat safely, the wind becomes calm again.
In both stories, stormy weather was involved. In both stories, the occupants of the boat were filled with fear. Yet, in both stories, their Saviour was there. In the first account, Jesus was sleeping peacefully in the boat when the storm arose. How could Jesus sleep so peacefully through a raging storm? It was simple. He knew who He was and the power that was residing in Him. He knew nothing could truly harm Him unless He allowed it and nothing could truly harm His disciples unless He allowed it. The disciples, of course, did not understand that and many times, our response is exactly like theirs. When the storms in our life arise, our first response is to panic, forgetting that Jesus is right there with us. He hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, He is calmly going through the storm with us - while we are panicking - because He knows who He is and that the One in us is greater than anything or anyone outside of us! He can handle it. It’s not our storm, it’s His!!!
In the second story, Jesus was not physically in the boat with them. He was on land praying. Yet, what I find interesting is that while on land, He saw them struggling on the water. Jesus could have left them alone. After all, they were fishermen accustomed to stormy seas. But, He chose to go to them. Jesus saw and He acted. He did not wait for them to cry for help like they did in the first story. He would not have been able to hear them anyway. This is what comes to my mind - God sees, God cares, God acts. God went to them in their time of trouble. God is right there. He is never far away. He is always there, I believe, waiting and looking for every opportunity to come to our rescue if we need it. He never sees us in trouble and leaves us alone to fend for ourselves. I believe He jumps into action and sends His angels to fight on our behalf.
As you face the storms of life, I encourage you to take heart in the storm, be encouraged, be strengthened because Jesus has promised to NEVER leave you nor abandon you. He is always there even in those times when He seems far away. He. Is. There.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. When storms arise, we need that confidence that there is Someone strong enough and powerful enough to see us through. Jesus is that strength and Saviour we need. We are safe in Him!!!
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.