Posts for Tag: sorrow

Counting the gifts He gives

  Today's devotional reading left me with two quotes which touched my heart...quotes to ponder throughout the day.

 "Counting one thousand gifts means counting the hard things.........otherwise I have miscounted."

 "When God moves us out of our comfort zone......into the hard places that are way bigger than us, places that are difficult, hard, painful, places that even hurt....this is a gift.

You are being given a gift."

 These are hard words.....hard truths to swallow.

 I have miscounted. I have not given thanks for the hard things, for the hurtful things. I am still struggling with how to do that. What part of the pain of this year and last is a gift? I cannot say, I do not know, so I must look back on my life in order to find any type of answer to my question. Does good come from the hard things?

I remember a day, many years ago, when I sat in an empty house, with my brother and wept. I was very young, he was only a few years older. It was a dark day for us, and the beginning of a hard road. Nothing was right about it, nothing was good about it, and yet looking back on it I give thanks for that day. So many things came about because of it. So when looking back I can see good coming from hard times.......but it seems to require a lot of time to pass before I can see it.

 I had to walk through the valley of anger, of feeling betrayed, of lashing out at others before they could lash out at me. I had to walk and wallow in darkness for a long time.It was a long walk of many years until that one day, over 24 years ago, when God called my name and said it is time to come out of the valley. But I can now see the good He intended. He used even this terrible dark time in my life for good.

 I can also see that the hard times of my life have made me more compassionate, they have given me an ability to love others, they have pushed me towards God, pushed me to work towards knowing Him better, and the more I know of God the more I understand how very much I need Him, how I am not much of anything without Him. The hard times have strengthened me, strengthened my faith, strengthened my love, helped me to see that for the most part, we tend to focus much of our lives on things that do not really matter, and not enough on what matters most.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.

His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:

His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-3

So today I move towards this truth I have been given today, and I with weak and shaking hands lift my arms to the heavens and say "thank You Lord" for the hard times. Help me to see You in them, help me to learn from them, help me to be a better person because of them, strengthen my faith through them, use them to help me to help others as they walk through their hard times. I give thanks because You are good and because Your love endures forever!

Lord I do believe, help Thou my unbelief!

I leave you with some quotes to ponder;

God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. ~ C.S. Lewis

I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary. ~ Charles Spurgeon

Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering…. The love of God did not protect His own Son…. He will not necessarily protect us – not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot

Nothing but encouragement can come to us as we dwell upon the faithful dealing of our Heavenly Father in centuries gone by. Faith in God has not saved people from hardships and trials, but it has enabled them to bear tribulations courageously and to emerge victoriously. ~ Lee Robertson

Christians are like the several flowers in a garden that have each of them the dew of heaven, which, being shaken with the wind, they let fall at each other’s roots, whereby they are jointly nourished, and become nourishers of each other. ~ John Bunyon

Are you aware of who you really are in relationship to the very God who created the Universe, who scattered the stars and aligned the planets? Only to those who remember and realize that they are literally spirit children of a God who knows and loves them, can the fire of refinement be welcome. Otherwise, pain and adversity are just that, pain and adversity. Fire doesn’t purify; it only burns.”  ~ Toni Sorenson

Cherry Blossoms in Rain

"In His grace there is life; weeping may be for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5"

  In all things there is always a choice. We lie to ourselves when we think otherwise. In my devotional reading this morning there is a quote that spoke to my heart. "I had to choose fear.......or completely trust Him. One cannot exist if the other is true." And in yesterdays reading there was another; "That which I refuse to thank Christ for, I refuse to believe Christ can redeem."

 Two very profound statements that hits me right where I am. Living between sorrow and fear, bouncing back from trust to sorrow, from sorrow to fear, back to trust........but is it really trust? For one cannot exist if the other is true.

 I have been a Christian for 24 years now, have read the Bible countless times, I know these things, they are written in my memory.....but are they engraved upon my heart? That is the question that God has been asking me, for weeks now. I am learning Lord, help me to hold on to what I learn.

 I am at peace, more so than I have been in some time. There is no need to fear tomorrow.

  When I fall into fear and worry, I am actually stating that I do not trust my Lord. When I agonize over what might happen, and how things do not seem to be going the way I think they should, or the way I would choose for them to go, I am stating that I do not trust that God knows what He is doing, that I do not believe that He is capable of redeeming things should they take the turn I fear.

 When I moan about the unfairness of things, I am stating that I am not where I should be, that the place God has put me is somehow wrong, that He has somehow lost control of things, that perhaps He was sleeping and did not intend for it to be this way. God has not been caught unaware of anything, and all that happens is allowed. I can not explain the why of it, I can only explain that God is good, He does not do wrong, so therefore there must be a purpose for it all.

 I can rejoice even in sorrow. For I know God will bring about good from all these things, He has promised me this, and one day, all that is wrong with the world will be made right, one day we will be reunited with loved ones gone to soon, one day His perfect love will forever cast out fear and sorrow. He has promised these things to those who belong to Him, He has promised good to me. He has promised good to His children.

He tells us to give thanks in ALL often do we really truly consider what that means?

  It means we are to praise Him, in the midst of the storm, we are to praise Him, and we are to give Him thanks for everything! Thanks for the long hard road we have walked, we are walking and we may be walking for some time. Thanks for all the blessings that He gives each and every day. And we should ever ask Him to open our eyes, do not allow us to miss the gifts You give, do not allow us to fall into fear, or despair, to wallow in any kind of self pity. May we ever stand where we stand and may we wait for You Lord, without complaint, and in perfect trust. Your love is perfect, and perfect love casts out all fear.

Open our eyes Lord!

"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ""Abba," Father."

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

 "In Japan the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It's a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short. When the cherry blossom trees bloom for a short time each year in brilliant force, they serve as a visual reminder of how precious and how precarious life is. So, when Japanese people come together to view the cherry blossom trees and marvel at their beauty, they aren't just thinking about the flowers themselves, but also about the larger meaning and deep cultural tradition the cherry blossom tree."

 The beautiful song, Cherry Blossoms in Rain, when played on the piano, makes use of only the black keys. The dark keys, when the right fingers are touching them, makes something beautiful. Our sorrows in this life, if we trust God, if we live a life of thanksgiving, if we take the joy He offers even in the hard things, can be like the black keys on the piano, with His fingers upon them, something beautiful, something useful, something needful can and will occur.

Take a moment and listen to the beautiful song, "Cherry Blossoms in Rain" 

 The quotes mentioned in this post were both taken from the wonderful devotional book by Ann Voskamp, called "One Thousand Gifts Devotional" it is a beautiful book and it has blessed me very much.

If our shoes could tell a story.....

Last night was the 4th of July, and for our family it was a night of many firsts. It was my oldest son's first 4th of July since returning from war, and it was my niece's first 4th of July without her beloved husband. It was my nephews, aged six and two, first 4th of July without their dear was a night of firsts.....

Events that occurred last night led me to much reflection this morning, and I began to think of shoes. There is a saying that one should not judge another until they have walked a mile in their shoes....and I think the events that occurred last night confirmed this.

On a beach in South Carolina, a group of young boys play football during a firework show. It is possible that their loud cries, and their activity irritated those gathered to watch the show. On that same beach a man and woman were gathered....and had already consumed too much alcohol. The man began to yell and curse at the children....frightening them...the mother and uncle and aunt of the children rushed to their defense and a argument ensued.

At this point in our story you may have come to some conclusions of your own, some "judgements" for lack of a better word. Things such as "people should not go out in public drunk"...or "the children should have been sitting and watching the fireworks and not playing football"........

What is know to us is the reason the children were playing, and not watching....the reason was one six year old boy...who did not want to see the fireworks....he lost his soldier father just a couple weeks ago, and the fireworks remind him of his dad...they stir pain and sorrow in his heart, and he tries with everything he has in play it ignore the fireworks and the display of patriotism in an effort to quiet the pain that has been inside his heart since the very moment his mother informed him of his fathers passing.

I imagine had the drunken man and woman known all these facts, they would have never yelled at the children, they would have displayed compassion and overlooked any irritation they might be feeling towards them.......but they did not know the story....and they reacted in anger, in vile words, and without even knowing what they were doing, they made the heart of this six year old, already broken.....more wounded than before.

What we do not know is why this man and woman reacted as they did. We can only speculate, which leads me to an occurrence going on across the country, near Seattle Washington the night of the 4th, where my oldest son and his friends have gathered together. The fireworks are going off all around, the air is full of the smell of gunpowder, and the sounds of the blasts from all directions has a sense of gunfire, mortars and chaos.....they are all on edge, they distract themselves with music and jokes, and alcohol, but the truth of the matter is, they really are not enjoying this 4th of July, the memories are too fresh, memories of real explosions, real gunfire, screams and wounds and death and destruction...

Is it possible that the drunken man and woman may have been dealing with the same issues? We do not know.....but what we can learn from these experiences is not to judge others, to have compassion without requiring a story...ask yourself always "why is this person behaving in this way"?.. "what might they be dealing with?...what tragedy may have occurred in their life? All we know is that these two drunken people ruined an entire families attempts to escape some of the pain and just try and be "normal", if only for a moment. Perhaps they were making the same attempt, for different reasons....we simply do not know.

It is certain that this world needs more understanding and compassion, more love and more hope, more people trying to at least imagine themselves in another's shoes...even if only for a moment. Examine your own life....have you suffered? Have you felt pain and sorrow? Have you lost someone you love? Have you endured the fires of war? Have you been down and out with no idea how you would buy your next meal?...Is it possible the person you are judging, the situation in which you are allowing yourself to explode on someone, is rooted in the same types of sorrow you have encountered? Everyone suffers, some more than others, but if we as a people, can find it within our hearts to overlook small things that irritate us, and reach out to people instead of pushing them away, or attacking them.....just think of the stories we would hear....and these stories would bring us together, in understanding, in friendship and love.....when we fail to do this, we are filled with anger, and judgement and we see only our own story and we feel the injustice of it all.....and none of these feelings bring peace.


Originally published on Blogger, July 5, 2013

Compassion for Others....a gift or a curse?

Of late there has been an abundance of occurrences whereby the opportunity to extend mercy and compassion has been made available. Currently my family has endured two suicides in a three month period, over the past few years I have come to know many people who have suffered the loss of a son in combat, and it seems that all my friends are struggling with various heartaches, from deaths in their family to very ill family members, lost jobs, and just all around hard times.

Being merciful and having compassion on others can consume you if you are not careful, it can lead to depression, to despair, to hopelessness, as God brings one person after another into your life that is hurting. In most cases you are powerless to do much about the situation, you may offer comfort, you try and console, you try to bring hope, you try to show love, in other words…you extend to the hurting the gift of mercy and compassion.

The situations my family have endured and many of my friends has led me to reflect upon this gift I have….is it a gift or is it a curse? There are some days when I feel so burdened, so weighed down with the sorrow of others that I can hardly focus on the mundane tasks at hand, and I feel discouraged, and very sad. Today was such a day. When I arose this morning I felt discouraged. Various trials being experienced by persons that I love very much were heavy on my heart, and I cried out to God…”how much longer Lord?”..” I cannot stand feeling like this, I cannot stand this constant burden, I cannot stand this constant worry for those I love… wonderful it must be to be able to simply live life without so much concern for the welfare of others.”

And then it came to me….how the gift of mercy is truly a gift. It is a small and tiny piece of God’ own heart….He is burdened for the sorrows of His children…..He hurts for them…and He desires me to pray for them, he desires me to offer words of comfort…He desires me to stand beside them……and in so doing He is standing with them, He is offering comfort, He is praying….What a wonderful thing to be used by God in such a way!

We are His hands here on earth! We are His voice! We are His arms! We are His legs! We must embrace all that He places on us, and do His work!

Romans12: 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out
Christ's compassion to the world
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.”
Teresa of Ávila
Originally published on Blogger June 26th, 1013

Happiness or Joy….Sorrow or Despair

Happiness is fleeting at best, for to be happy everything must be as one would like it to be……but joy is always possible, one cannot be happy while in the midst of sorrow, but one can have joy in the midst of sorrow. Despair destroys both happiness and joy, for in despair there is no hope, no light, nothing of beauty, nothing to delight in, nothing to be amazed by…….so I choose to reject despair and take up sorrow………for my family and for many of my friends, there has just been too much recently to grasp at happiness….for me, in order to be happy, my children must be happy, my husband must be happy, finances must be certain, health must be good, and my extended family and friends must likewise have these things….if any is lacking, if there is concern, if there is loss, if there is suffering of any kind, then happiness escapes me. Buy Joy…joy is another thing entirely!

 I rejoice in the midst of sorrow, I rejoice that loved ones who have left this world are with Him, where there is no more sorrow, where they are as He meant them to be, where all is well, and where I will one day be……I will see them again.

In the midst of sorrow, I rejoice in creation, in the wonder of the flowers, and the life that surrounds us, in the antics of silly dogs as they play, in the wonder of children as they ask simple questions about things I often do not even notice…..I rejoice in these things.

In the midst of sorrow, I rejoice in the people He has brought into my life, the dear friends, and the strangers who seem to fall from the sky right when I or someone I love need their expertise. God is so good to have sent such people my way.

I rejoice in His grace, in the midst of my sorrow, His abundant marvelous grace that never rewards me for my thoughts, my deeds…but instead pours out goodness and mercy upon my so often sinful soul.

I rejoice in His word, that brings comfort to my soul, and in His promises to which I cling. He will not leave me, nor forsake me, He is faithful, He is trustworthy, and He is true.

All around us are blessings, for He blesses the righteous and the unrighteous with the simple wonders of creation, the air we breathe, the gentle breeze on a hot summer day, the refreshing rain that falls upon the hot parched earth, the flowers that fill the air with their wonderful fragrance….all these things and more are given us each day. 1000 blessings, and on most days we miss even seeing 999 of them.


Take a moment and watch this short video….perhaps it will help you as it has helped me, to see the beauty around you, to see the blessings around you, no matter what loss, no matter how sad, no matter the sorrow….there are always things to be thankful for. It is a truly profound video, I do hope you take the time to see for yourself.