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.

To Know You Are Loved Deeply

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are moms! I hope you experience a giant glimpse of how cherished you are by those you love!

Whether you’re a mom or not, it’s a blessing to have days when we taste the beautiful love that God has for us.

God knows how you and I wrestle with how we see ourselves. Some days our heart is peaceful, yet other days, the assault of worry, regret, comparison, or feeling inadequate overwhelms us. Often circumstances, or circumstances we imagine, dominate our perspective.

“‘For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace share not be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54.10)

Our every thought is seen and each unspoken experience and emotion in our heart is known. . . And God’s love for you and me never changes. Never.

You, my friend, are loved deeply by the Father. Savor this truth and let it soak in to your soul—

YOU are loved deeply.  Uniquely YOU. God designed you differently from every person who has lived before you, who walks the earth now, and who will one day take steps here. YOU, special you, are made by him with delight and for his delight.

“…my steadfast love shall not depart from you”

You ARE loved deeply.  This moment, as you slept last night, in your weaknesses, sadnesses, trials, and joys—God IS pouring perfect love over you. Be still; believe this; receive; and rest in his love for you.

“…my steadfast love shall not depart from you”

You are LOVED deeply.  Perfectly, not conditionally. This is hard to imagine, yet it’s true. Every detail of who you are right now today is covered with God’s grace and blanketed with his love. The part of you that feels unforgivable, ashamed, like a failure, or unworthy—God loves.

“…my steadfast love shall not depart from you”

You are loved DEEPLY.  God’s love heals, comforts, and restores. His love fills cracks and empty places in our heart that life experiences–or absence of these–have made. The power of his love transforms us. Our heavenly Father wants us to step closer to him, to open our heart to receive the fullness of his amazing love.

Dear God,
I want to know the truth of these words fully in the deepest part of my heart—that I am loved deeply by you. I open my heart to you right now. Heal, comfort, and restore me. Fill every crack and empty place with your love. Transform me that I live knowing how deeply I am loved by you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.