When Circumstances Overwhelm Us

I have friends in Houston, Texas, and surrounding towns—you may also—who are experiencing the rains and winds of Hurricane Harvey’s lingering effects. For all that can be predicted, they know they have to wait and then live through what actually comes. And that’s hard. At the same time, all other challenging matters of life haven’t evaporated. For the moment, they may shrink in comparison, but they’re still there.

You know what I mean. A new trial develops, yet the other hard things remain, too. We press on, hanging in there, until sometimes we wear down, fall apart, cry, pray, vent, and try our best to keep praying—to keep holding on to the One who holds us and holds all creation.

“I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD . . . speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” (1 Samuel 1.15b-16)

All week I’ve been planted in this passage in 1 Samuel 1.1-20, where God unfolds how Hannah perseveres in faith and how he attends her heart through her circumstances. Hannah prays for years to conceive a child, plus her husband’s other wife regularly provokes her that she’s born multiple children. One big trial compounded by another—Can you relate?

Hannah is “deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.” (v.10)

Anxiety, worry, pain, and frustration accompany Hannah’s heart. Yet, the Companion whose company she steadfastly chooses is her LORD. She takes her experiences and feelings to God, not holding back. She unloads every aspect of her burden, letting tears wash her empty.

This is intimacy with God. Raw and honest, yet worshipful. God is Hannah’s heavenly Father and Lord.

“Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” (v.18b)

Her face was no longer sad. She went “her way,” back to the circumstances that currently define her life. Yet, she went changed—changed by her encounter with the living God. Changed by his love that filled all places in her heart when she emptied all that burdened her. She “went” with God, with His peace that passes all understanding.

Hannah’s no-longer-sad face reflects a heart that has overcome the overwhelm of circumstances in the power of God’s love. She trusts God—that He sees, listens, holds, and loves her through all circumstance.

Dear God,
Thank you for sharing a segment of Hannah’s life and relationship with us. Help us seek to know you more as our Father and Lord, who loves us immeasurably. Teach and prompt us to steadfastly walk with You through all circumstances. Amen.

Prayer for New Beginnings

Is a new beginning in front of you?

New beginnings occur daily. We start a new job or gain more responsibilities, move in to a new apartment or house, move to a new city, start dating someone or become single again, get married, or have a baby. If you’re a mom, a big part of your heart focuses on each child’s new beginnings—preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, or a new activity, new job, new relationship, or a move.

As you step in to something new, step with God.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31.8) Moses said this to Joshua as Joshua prepared to step in to two new beginnings—as the new leader of God’s people and to take them into the Promised Land.

This week you are on my heart to pray for you concerning new beginnings. I thought I might also share a couple of prayers . . .

Dear God, you knew this day was coming. I invite you in to this new beginning. I want and need you to lead me. Prepare me now and every day because only you know what each day holds. Make me and mold me through the good days and hard days. Help me remember to keep talking to you. Help me learn to listen and discern your guidance. Thank you that you love me so much. I love you. Amen.

If you’re a mom, and your child is stepping in to something new, step with God.

Dear God, I give you my child and all my anxieties. I am comforted that you are with her/him every minute. Fill my child with your love and peace. Prompt me to pray, especially when my mind wanders. Help me faithfully disciple my child about your great love and how to depend on you. Help me depend on you and trust you fully. Amen.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

From Worry to Trust

IMG_0676I am SO glad I worried about that!

Have you ever thought that? Me either.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” (Corrie ten Boom)

IMG_0675Worry wears us down and wastes time. When I give in to worry, I’m oblivious to sweet moments of the day and I accomplish little. The hours of potential sleep that I’ve exchanged for worry are uncountable . . . Yet it’s hard to not worry. After all, we’ve developed this pattern over a lifetime. If we think back, we probably worried as a child about a test, being included, a performance, or a relationship.

God doesn’t want us to worry, and he doesn’t want our child to worry. He wants us know him and rest in WHO he is.

IMG_0693Jesus teaches us to choose TRUST in God over WORRY. Each is an outlook on life. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? . . . your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6.25,32b–33)

Trust or worry. We choose, every day.

IMG_0679When we rely on what we think, see, or hear, it’s easy to imagine a grim picture, which leads to worry. The root of worry is fear. When we let worry seep in to our thoughts, our mind races as negative possibilities accumulate. Before we know it our perspective is muddled with distracting, even paralyzing, thoughts.

Recognize WORRY. See it as a neon signal that your focus needs adjusting. Name your fear and all its details, and hand it to God. When we hand something to God, we begin a new conversation. Step close into the shadow of the Almighty. Be still. Be comforted. Be filled with his presence as he grows your faith.

IMG_0684“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12.28)

When we worship God, our focus shifts to the One who will do what is best at the time that He knows is best.

Lord God, lead us from the prison of worry into freedom of faith in you. And help us teach our children, as we learn. In Jesus’ name, Amen.