Archives For emotions

All of us have hard times in life. For most, these hard times don’t represent the majority of our days. However, there are definitely people who struggle for extended periods with problems, difficulties, and situations that just don’t seem to improve.

I have some friends and family members who are presently experiencing difficult days. While I won’t claim to have all the answers, I would like to offer four suggestions for helping those who are hurting:

1. Pray for them. Why is it that even for Christians prayer is often our last resort rather than our first response? I believe that prayer changes things, so I pray for my hurting friends, knowing that the God of the universe hears our cries and cares deeply for His children. I’ve found that praying for people is something easy to promise when asked — but just as easy to forget once I’m distracted by the busyness of life. Never underestimate the power of praying with your friends in their time of need. We bond with one another when we pray aloud together.

2. Be present with them. So many times we struggle to find the right words to say. Often that’s because there simply are no words. Nothing we can say will change the situation or alleviate the pain. Be willing to be present with your friends. When I minister to people who are gravely ill or to families who have just lost one to death, I’ve found that just being there is enough. In our busy society we’re prone to try and fix things. Just be present and available to listen or pray or cry. Your presence is an invaluable gift.

3. Allow them an opportunity to have a get-away. This one is not always possible for every situation, but there’s usually some way to pull it off. When emotional burdens drain your friends’ life and energy, offer to watch the kids . . . or take your friends for a drive in the country . . . or give them a gift card to the movies. Just a little time away — a change of pace — can provide a much-needed respite from the constant cares and stresses of life.

4. Take them a meal. No matter what is going on, at some point your friends have to eat. A nutritious, home-cooked meal — or even a restaurant gift card — can provide a practical help. Many Sunday School classes and ministry groups now use a handy, user-friendly website to coordinate meals for those in need. Click here to check it out.

In almost every situation, we can find some way to be helpful to those who are hurting. Just remember that if you’re not hurting now, you will be one day. Do something for others that you’d like to have done for you in your time of need.

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:10

What are some practical ways others have been helpful to you in times of need?

Fifteen years ago today I watched my best friend walk down a church aisle. She stood beside me, held my hand, and we repeated our vows in front of God and many friends and family members.

A Christian marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts. Things haven’t always been easy; in fact, we’ve had some real rough patches along the way. As those of you who are married can attest, it’s one thing to love someone — and another thing entirely to share space with them day after day.

Life has a funny way of throwing curve balls when you least expect them. Challenges arise. Difficulties come. Anxiety overtakes. Those are the times that test the bonds of marriage. Those are the times during which a cord of three strands is absolutely essential.

As I look back on the last fifteen years, a number of things stand out very clearly. Like all other married couples, we’ve experienced the highs and lows that come with the natural markings of life. It’s during the tough times that we’ve had to remember that marriage cannot be based on feelings, which ebb and flow and come and go.

Marriage must be rooted in love. And love is a choice . . . a decision . . . a commitment . . . a covenant before the God of the universe. What comes after this life is yet to be seen. For the present life, however, I have a quiet confidence that God in His grace joined our hearts and lives together and will continue to paint the tapestry of our marriage with a kaleidoscope of watercolors whose impressive array of patterns only He can see. We often get focused on one particular shade of color, but on occasion from a distant place, God allows us to catch a glimpse of the bigger picture.

Through marriage I’ve learned to trust more deeply, share more completely, and love more fully than I ever thought possible. And while our daily routine is filled with all the mundane things of any family — laundry, trash, menu planning, and such — it’s the daily routine that provides the fertile ground from which a deeper, richer, more fulfilling relationship can emerge.

On this day fifteen years ago, two very in-love individuals were joined together in holy matrimony. When we said ‘I do’ and exchanged rings and kisses, we set out on a wild adventure called marriage. Through the laughter and tears, heartaches and fears, one thing has kept us together: our commitment to love each other faithfully as long as we both shall live.

We did. We have. We will.

By His grace.

Michelle, you are one of God’s greatest gifts . . . and I can never thank Him enough.

I can honestly say that I love you today far more than I did back then. Thank you for loving me too.

Happy Anniversary.