Archives For challenges

Draw Near to GodLet’s face it. We all struggle from time to time with the minor annoyances and frustrations in life.

Here are a few of mine this week:

  • A lawn mower that needs repair
  • A missing package that was shipped to my Mom
  • An expired debit card
  • A missed appointment
  • A forgotten password

The fact is that some of these issues are of my own doing, others not so much. Most of you know that my Dad recently passed away. And considering the events of the past couple weeks, I really need to just show myself the grace I try to extend to others. However, for some reason I tend to operate as if I’m super-human and somehow too good to be bothered by such little problems. I mean, the world is full of issues and stresses and pain and suffering that I cannot begin to fully comprehend.

In my own little world I can think of . . .

  • Several friends facing difficult situations with aging parents
  • Several babies and young children hospitalized and fighting for another day of life
  • Several friends praying for their children to find their way back to God
  • A friend facing unemployment
  • A family facing certain eviction from their home
  • A family suffering the woes of severe debt
  • A friend prepping for a medical school exam
  • A family embroiled in relational strife and heated conflict
  • A family begging Russia to let them adopt the little girl they met several months ago

There are so many other issues that come to mind. It can be overwhelming.

Then I think about the broader problems in our world:

  • Those who have no peace due to wars and constant turmoil
  • Those who have no clean drinking water
  • Those who have no food to eat
  • Those who have no family or friends
  • Those who have no shelter
  • Those who are truly innocent but incarcerated

When I’m tempted to let my day be ruined by the small stuff, it helps me to remember those who are dealing with really BIG stuff. I can’t imagine facing such challenges without an abiding faith in Jesus Christ. I hear other believers say that a lot. But here’s the thing: So many of us turn to Him only after we’ve exhausted all other possible solutions. How crazy is that?!

We’d do well to learn from little children. When toddlers are hurt, scared, or in apparent danger, they look first to Mom, Dad, or another safe adult for help. They don’t try to fix things all by themselves. They don’t beat themselves up for all the ways they may have contributed to the problem. They just call the name of the one who can help — and, if possible, they run straight into their open arms.

Maybe you’re having a bad day. Or maybe you just thought you were. Whatever the case may be, whether it’s broken cars, broken appliances, broken bones, broken promises, or broken relationships, take the time to think outside yourself and realize that God may be trying to tell you something that you really need to hear. In my own life I’ve found that it’s much easier to hear His still small voice when I’m listening for it.

In the midst of a noisy, troubled world, may you experience the presence of the Lord in a powerful way today.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. – James 4:8a, ESV

IT’S YOUR TURN!
What is God teaching you through your own struggles this week?

tulips-after-stormIt’s springtime in the South, which brings a kaleidoscope of natural beauty in the form of green trees and brightly-colored flowers. Until recent years, fall was always my season of choice. However, I just love the message of hope that truly is the universal proclamation of spring.

My wife, Michelle, absolutely loves tulips. And in the past couple weeks we’ve seen a number of these classy and majestic wonders. Unfortunately, tulips are as delicate as they are beautiful. And that’s not a good thing when storms move in.

And on Wednesday night we had our first real round of spring storms, complete with a spectacular lightning show. Some storms were severe, producing hail, powerful straightline winds, and a few tornadoes.

It turns out that Thursday was my assigned hospital rotation day. As I made my rounds through the Little Rock metro area, I saw very little evidence of the previous night’s storms. That is, except for the beds of tulips. They were still obviously tulips, but many of them were missing petals, bent over, battered, and broken from the wind and rain.

I’ve been made increasingly aware in recent weeks of a number of wonderful people who are dealing with their own storms: sudden losses of life, miscarriages, divorce, painful health crises and scary diagnoses, unemployment — just to name a few.

When I hear of such trials and heartbreaking circumstances, I make a point to pray. I simply cannot imagine going through this life without an abiding faith in Jesus Christ. If you’re going through a tough period in your life, I encourage you to meditate on the Scripture verses below that reveal some profound truths about God.

He is Our Refuge and Strength

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46:1-3, ESV)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, ESV)

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13, ESV)

He is Our Peace Giver

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7, NIV)

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NIV) [Read in Context]

He is Our Faithful Provider

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. . . . Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:27-29, 34, NIV) [Read in Context]

He is Our Hope and Sustainer

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NIV)

He is Our Salvation

The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1, NIV)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12, ESV)

Whatever you may be experiencing today — grief, loss, public pain, private pain, anxiety, depression, despair, or something else altogether — I pray that you have the peace and hope that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The disciple John recorded Jesus’ words to us all: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV) [Read John 14]

yellow-tulips-sky-editedIf you don’t know Jesus, I would love to introduce you to Him today. Feel free to contact me. With Christ in your life, no matter how fierce the storms, you can still shine brightly and beautifully from the inside out.

Enjoy this spring season. And take time to savor the splendor of His creative powers.

IT’S YOUR TURN!
Do you have a favorite Scripture verse or passage that you go to in the storms of life?