Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Mid-Week Message - Hairballs and Spiders

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  James 1:2-4  (NIV) 

One morning when I was a student at a Bible college in Texas, everything seemed to go wrong.  My alarm didn't go off.  There was no hot water for my shower.  I was late to class and in my hurry I had confused the day and brought the wrong books.  Everything that could go wrong, did.  Each morning we had a chapel session just before lunch.  This particular day, flustered as I was, I was really looking forward to that time because I thought it would change my focus and improve my attitude.  As we did in each chapel service, we first sang a couple of hymns.  When the song leader told us to turn to page one, I started laughing.  My hymnal was missing some pages and began with page 51!  I will never forget that day because it helped me to understand that my relationship with the Lord wasn't something that was confined to a schedule nor did it require me to be perfect. 

Some days are like that.  This past Monday began with me being awoken around six in the morning by the sound of my poodle, who will be fifteen next month, throwing up.  I woke up my daughter because she could get to him more quickly.  When she came back she said he had thrown up a hairball!  I didn't know dogs did that.  I got up to go and check on him and when I turned around I saw a large spider on my bathroom drawer.  So, that is the way the day started.  Thankfully, the rest of the day was much better. 

I know the experiences I just mentioned were very minor and that we all go through trials that are much more challenging and, sometimes, even devastating.  I have friends that are fighting deadly diseases, grieving the loss of loved ones and suffering staggering financial problems.  Some are taking care of parents with dementia or Alzheimer's, or desperately praying over wayward children.  There are also those who are fighting addictions or depression.  The list of what we can be affected by is endless.  How can we be joyful during these things? 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus".  Today's verse admonishes us to "count it joy" when we experience trials.  In order to be joyful, we have to be grateful.  I want to point out that the verse in 1 Thessalonians does not say to give thanks FOR all circumstances.  It says to give thanks IN all circumstances.  I, like you, would find it incredibly difficult to be thankful for some of the trials I encounter.  However, when I recognize the Lordship of Jesus and ask Him to guide me and to use whatever circumstances I find myself in for His glory, then I can be thankful and I can find joy.  As long as my focus remains on Him and I realize that He loves me and is navigating my journey with me, then I can keep myself from falling into despair.  

There is so much going on in this nation and this world that most of us thought we would never see.  Depending upon where you live, you may be seeing much more than others of us.  All of these things, along with the battles we must face in our personal lives, can leave us feeling fearful and  defeated.  I want to remind you that the Bible ends with the assurance that the battle here on earth has been won.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly.  Evil has no power over Him.  Though we may feel that we are walking through the darkest storm, He is the light and if we will seek Him, we will find Him.  We are never alone.  If we are still and call upon Him, we will feel His presence and we will be strengthened by His great love.  

I pray that whatever fight you are in right now will quickly pass and I am asking our heavenly Father to surround you with holy protection, power and mercy.  Relief comes in many forms and I pray that it comes for you soon.  Until then, I know that His outstretched hand is ready for you to grab onto, and once you take it, He will never let it go.  God bless.

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