FINDING HOPE IN ADVERSITY

Photo By Engin Akyurt

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. How can we sing the lords song in a foreign land? Psalm 137:1, 4. 

COVID has created a lot of disruption and aversity in our lives. We are in a season of dissatisfaction and distraction and there is no real end in sight. If you are like me you are tired. Tired of COVID. Tired of face masks. Tired of restrictions. Tired of conflict. Tired of politics. Tired of social distancing. Just plain tired of it all. On top of being tired, I am grieving the loss of all the things COVID protocol has taken from us. COVID isn’t going away and we can’t get away from it. In a very real way, we are captive to it.

I doubt any of us were prepared for just how unrelenting this season would actually be. Most of us have sought distractions to take our minds off it. Healthy distraction can be a good thing. It provides some relief from adversity, especially adversity over which we have no control. Too much distraction or unhealthy distraction however, can negatively effect motivation and mood. Distraction may provide temporary relief, but it is like candy. It only satisfies while we’re consuming it and too much of it … not good!

In 605 B.C. Babylon conquered the Nation of Judah. This began a 70 year long season of adversity for the people of God. Jerusalem and the temple were sacked and destroyed. The Israelites were killed or carted off to captivity in Babylon. They lost their homes, possessions, loved ones and their freedom. It was a devastating. (This gave me a bit of perspective on the season we are going though. It may be long but at least its not 70 years!)

Psalm 137 was written during the Babylonian captivity. It is the poignant outcry of people trying to deal with adversity in captivity.  God’s people cried out “how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” In essence what they were asking is, how do we find satisfaction in long term adversity? How do we find joy and meaning in prolonged captivity? How do we find fulfillment when we have little to no control over our situation or our lives? They were asking the same questions we are asking today.

I found my answer to this question in the lives of Daniel and his friends; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

In the beginning of their captivity, they had virtually no control over their lives. Every aspect, from their education, to jobs, to how and who they would worship, was dictated by their captors.  Even things as basic as what they ate, were decided for them. Yet, to a man, they determined that they would not not defile themselves even if it cost them their lives.   

Instead of just going along to get along or being ground down by the realities of their captivity, they choose to cast their lot with God. They chose to trust in, lean on and be obedient to God in all things, regardless of their situation. They sought His guidance and listened to His voice.  They followed His plan and relied on His protection. In their 70 years of captivity God protected, prospered and raised them to positions of power and influence.  By seeking God and allowing Him to reign in their lives, they were able to thrive in the adversity of foreign captivity. Their faithfulness even laid the foundation for the eventual return to Jerusalem. 

In this season, we have the SAME OPPORTUNITY. When we follow their example, prolonged adversity gives us a unique opportunity. We get to trust in , lean on and be obedient to God in ways that would not be possible under any other circumstances.  It gives us the opportunity to see God work powerfully on our behalf. When we choose to throw our lot in with God, prolonged adversity becomes an opportunity to grow! To grow closer to God. To grow stronger and more resilient. To gain experience and wisdom.  To grow more Christlike.

As we continue through this long season of adversity, let’s follow the example of Daniel and his fellow captives. Let’s trust in God’s ability to bring us through whatever comes. No matter how long it lasts, GOD WILL bring us to the other side. Lean on Him for strength and rest and He will enable us to soar like Eagles. Be obedient to Him and to His word and He will bring blessing in the midst of our captivity. 

Take comfort in the promise of Rom. 5:3-5. “ Exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardship, knowing that hardship produces patient endurance and endurance, proven character and spiritual maturity: and proven character produces hope and confident assurance. Such hope NEVER DISSAPOINTS.” Let this season of adversity be one in which we allow God to do His transformative work in us. Draw close to Him and take comfort in His steadfast love and care. Then we will know how to sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land. Who knows, we too may be laying a foundation of hope and blessing beyond imagining!

Recommended reading Psalm 137, Dan. Chapt. 1, 3:8-28, 6:18-28

THE PROMISE OF A NEW YEAR

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad

2 Corinthians 1:20 “For as many as the promises of God are, in Christ they are all answered with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ our “Amen” ascends to God for His glory.”

The end of 2020 is something we have ALL been looking forward to with great anticipation. With all its chaos, stress and difficulty, 2020 couldn’t end soon enough. Yet with each new challenge, it seemed like 2020 would NEVER end.  Well, 2021 is FINALLY here! The promise of a new year is always exciting.  The possibilities a new year holds, makes the change in the calendar cause for celebration and hope. Coming out of the year we have had; the possibility of hope seems that much more exciting and vital.

Yet despite the change in the calendar, little else has actually changed.  We are still dealing with COVID and all its myriad of physical, social and financial issues. Though last year’s tragedies have highlighted racial issues, we have yet to send the demon of racism back to the pit of hell from whence it came. We are still dealing with added stress in work, finances, marriage, family life and relationships in general and yet…

 We cannot afford to abandon the promise of a new year! 

Each new year holds promise because time itself is a gift from God.  He gives us each year, and every year he gives us, is a year filled with the potential of what He can and WILL do in our lives. The hope of that potential is something we need to embrace ESPECIALLY after the year we have had.

One of the ways we can embrace this potential is to remind ourselves of the promises God has made to us. So, what are some of God’s promises to us?

  • God promises His presence. He promises that whatever we face, He will be with us. He will never under any circumstances desert us or leave us defenseless. As we walk through this coming year, we can be assured that He will be beside us guiding and protecting, comforting and consoling us. No matter what, He WILL bring us though.

Psalm 23:4

Heb. 13:5-6

Psalm 55: 22:

Isaiah 41:10-13

Isaiah 43: 1,2

Psalm 46:1-3

Psalm 18:2

Psalm 55:22

Psalm 9:9

  • God promises to bring GOOD out of every situation we face, even the worst. Whatever crap life throws at us, God will use it to grow a garden of beauty and repose in our lives. He desires to give us a life of abundance, regardless of the situations around us.

Rom 8:28

Jer. 29:11

John 10:10

2 Thes. 2:16-17

Deut 30:9, 19-20

1 Kings 8:56

Psalm 23:2-3, 5

  • God promises to care for us. He will provide for us always. He promises to ease our burden and bring us a peace that transcends circumstance.

1 Peter 5:6,7

Matt 6:25,26

Phil 4:6

Matt 11:28-30

John 14:27

Isaiah 57:19

Psalm 85:8

Phil 4:7

Psalm 128:

  • God KEEPS His promises

Num 23:19

2 Peter 3:9

2 Cor. 1:20

This coming year is overflowing with potential because God gave it to us and He is with us!  If God is for us, who or what can stand against us? NOTHING!! So, embrace the promise of the new year. It’s real! We have His word on it!

CHANGING PERSPECTIVE: a 2020 Survival Guide

For I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future Jer 29:11 NIV

In March it seemed that 2020 had come prepared to do battle. Now in December it seems that it wasn’t a battle that 2020 had in mind. In addition to a Global pandemic and the financial and social adversity that it caused, we’ve had wild fires in Australia, the Western United States and Canada, locust swarms in Africa, earthquakes in Turkey and Puerto Rico, a super typhoon in the South Pacific, massive flooding in Vietnam, Cambodia and the Sudan, and a massive explosion in Beirut. Not to mention the individual challenges each of us has faced this year. In the US, the murder of George Floyd lit the fuse of social outrage and racial conflict. Throw in a less than typical presidential election and it seems clear that 2020 is in FULL ON SIEGE MODE!  

I will take even the most intense battle over a siege ANY DAY! The unrelenting stress of an enemy continually at the gate is like being caught in a grinding stone. Each turn of the sone wears us down a little more, until all that remains is the helpless, hopeless dust of our former selves. A siege cuts us off from each other and our resources. A prolonged siege can actually steal our capacity to embrace hope, because we lose the ability to see any way out.   

During Israel’s war with Aram, Elisha repeatedly thwarted Aram’s success in battle by prophesying about Aram’s battle plans. This so enraged the king of Aram that he wanted Elisha dead. So, he sent a powerful army by night to lay siege to the city of Dothan where Elisha lived. When Elisha and his servant awoke, they were met with the sight of a large army encircling the city. Elisha ’s servant was in a state of panic bordering on despair. Elisha however, was as cool as a cucumber. 

Both men were facing the same threat, but they had very different responses. Why? 

The difference came from their individual perspectives. The servant was focused on the problem. From his perspective they faced a lethal danger with no defense and no way out. He saw no way to successfully stand against this aggressor. As a result, he was overwhelmed and lost hope.

Elisha’s focus however, wasn’t on the enemy. His hope and trust were centered in God.  Elisha told his servant “Do not be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:17).  Elisha could see what his servant could not. He saw the army of the Almighty, with chariots of fire, absolutely filling the mountains between them and the army of Aram. Elisha’s servant was unable to embrace hope because his focus and trust were in the wrong place. 

What we focus on and who we trust in makes ALL the difference.   There is no denying that 2020 is beyond challenging. The problems are real. The difficulties keep piling up with no clear end in sight. If we keep our focus on the problems, we could easily fall into hopelessness and despair. What we need most in the midst of this siege, is a change of perspective. How we end this year will affect how our new year begins. AS this year is coming to a close let’s end it looking to the one who holds the future. His plans for us are good! He is giving us a future of hope!

COMFORT and JOY: A 2020 Survival Guide

‘Christmas Star’ Dec 21st 2020

“And when they saw the star, they were so ecstatic that they shouted and celebrated with unrestrained joy.” Matt 2:10 TPT

This has been a year of disappointments. At first glance, Christmas 2020 is no different. Like everything else, how we celebrate Christmas has changed.  The comfort that comes from being together is MIA since gathering together is difficult if not impossible. The joyful excitement of the season seems to be severely tempered or missing altogether. The spirit of Christmas seems as elusive as an honest politician. Both can be found, but you really have to search.  It is an understatement to say that this Christmas seems less than comforting or joyful.

The pandemic, and everything else this year has thrown at us, has made radical changes to life.  Experts say many of us are suffering from pandemic induced “brain fog” or PTSD. Many people are experiencing intense isolation and loneliness.  Rates of depression and suicide are up. Domestic and child abuse is on the rise. People are experiencing great loss and are grieving those losses. Anger is often just under the thin facade of “keeping it all together.” 

As hard as it may be to find this year, the spirit and hope of Christmas has not abandoned us. It seems to me that the appearance of the ‘Christmas Star’ is no coincidence. The star of Bethlehem announced the single most hopeful event in ALL history, the birth of Jesus. When the Bethlehem star dominated the night sky 2000 years ago, it declared the HOPE that Immanuel, “God with us”, had been born. 

As the Christmas star makes its reappearance this year, I can’t help but believe that it is again proclaiming HOPE in our present difficulty. It is a bright light piercing our darkness to remind us that God is with us!  He has not abandoned us. It is a reminder that 2000 years ago God sent His Son to be born into our world. He lived among us as a human being, experiencing all the joys and sorrows, struggles and accomplishments, love and grief that we experience. As. Result, He truly is a High Priest who knows what we are going trough. 

That first Christmas however, wasn’t the pinnacle of the story. It was a prelude to the TRUE HOPE that “God with us” brings. Jesus was born and lived as one of us, not just to be a comforting presence who understands our needs and frailty. Ultimately He lived among us in order to give His life for us. Sin separated us from relationship with God. Jesus chose to be “God with us” in order to be the sacrifice for our sin. He became the unblemished Lamb whose crucifixion overcame sin and death and restored our relationship with God. Jesus reunited us with our greatest source of joy!

So celebrate the appearance of the Christmas star.  Know that the star is a reminder that God loves us enough to have made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Be comforted by the knowledge that if God gave his own son to restore our relationship with Him, He will most certainly preserve us through the trials and tribulations life throws at us.  Let  the Christmas star be a promise of what He will continue to do in our lives no matter how difficult it may seem. Let it be a symbol of the comfort and joy that even 2020 can’t steal. 

GIVING THANKS: A 2020 survival guide


Enter His gates with a song of thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, bless and praise His name. For the Lord is good; and His mercy and lovingkindness are everlasting, His promises endure to all generations. Psalm 100:4-5 

Its that time of year when we gather around the family table. We share food and conversation and remember all the things we are thankful for.  Whether the table is overflowing with tasty treats or it’s a simple meal, thanksgiving is a time we gather together with those we love. It’s the time we celebrate all our blessings. At least that is how we normally celebrate Thanksgiving. With COVID making a resurgence, Thanksgiving is looking a LOT different for many of us. 

Despite the changes COVID may have made in our celebrations, we need to hold onto thankfulness with everything we got. It is in times of challenge and grief that the true power of thankfulness emerges. When life takes a hard turn, thankfulness becomes a vital survival skill. Giving thanks changes our perspective. Thanks-giving opens the door for hope to enter in. Hope opens the door for the power of God to work in our lives.  

Though it may be hard to see in the midst of the mess that COVID is, there is much to be thankful for. Not the least of which is the goodness, mercy and lovingkindness of our God. Through out His word, God declares His love and devotion to us. He assures us that He will protect us. He promises He will never leave or forsake us. He will never let His righteous fall.  God is a keeper of promises to all generations.  He vows to walk with us through all life’s difficulties. He gave His son to die for our sins. He wouldn’t invest so much unless He planned on protecting His investment. His power is ALWAYS at work on our behalf!  

When it feels like the things we have come to cherish and rely on are being ripped from us, we need to remind ourselves to give thanks for what God is doing in the midst of the pain. Even when we don’t yet see the evidence of it, God is ALWAYS working on our behalf.  He IS faithful to keep His promises. It is an act of faith to stand on those promises in the face of chaos. It is only by standing in His promises that we will be able to receive them. The amazing thing is, embracing God’s promises before we see them is actually what enables us to stand and to remain standing when everything around us is falling apart. 

The full power of thanksgiving can never be overstated. When the worry and anxiety of all that is happening our world comes crashing in, remember to bring it all to the one who loved us enough to sacrifice His own life for us. Release the cares and worries to Him in prayer with thanksgiving and watch the windows of heaven open up as God pours out the blessing of His promises on us, His beloved. Knowing that He has our situation in hand can bring us a peace that reassures our hearts that all will be well.  

So what do you have to be thankful for this thanksgiving? Whatever it is, lift it high in an offering of praise to the one who loves you unconditionally and literally died to give you everything needful for life and godliness. 

DEALING WITH DISCOURAGEMENT: A 2020 survival guide


I started my 2020 survival guide with the post “Faith, Hope and Love.” It was followed in short order by “Finding Faith”, “Building Faith” and “Walking by Faith”. It was time to start writing about hope. Yet every time I sat down to write, the words were like a classroom of unruly 2-year olds on a massive sugar high. IF I could find the words, I couldn’t get them to sit still long enough to form a coherent sentence.

The truth is, I was having trouble writing about hope, because I was having trouble finding hope. I had already hit the proverbial wall with the COVID situation. Social distancing and being separated from family and friends had worn thin. Then came the murder of George Floyd. That was more than I could handle. In the wake of all 2020 had dished out I found myself struggling with a onslaught of negative emotions.

I don’t experience discouragement often. This time however, I just couldn’t shake off the negative emotions that were overwhelming me. I found myself getting ground down by 2020 and all its fallout. I was relating a little too much with Job’s outcry; “Where now is my hope?Will it go down with me into Sheol? Shall we go down together in the dust?” (Job 17:15.)

We are facing a LOT of challenges. Apart from the health concerns, there is the financial impact of all this on families, businesses and the country. There is tremendous uncertainty about what life will be like on the other side of COVID. The stresses on marriages and families can be overwhelming. There are arguments about everything from public health and safety versus economic recovery, to the ‘correct’ response to racial injustice. These arguments are being expressed at VOLUME. Conflict is everywhere. People are angry. Some are expressing their anger violently. It’s all disheartening! It steals hope.

What do we do when hope feels this elusive? 

No matter how long all this lasts or how tough it gets, our answer is in the LORD and His promises! 

“So now we must cling tightly to the Hope that LIVES WITHIN US, knowing that God ALWAYS keeps His promises!” (Heb. 10:23) emphasis added 

PROMISE #1 – He is our hope.

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him,” (Lam. 3:25).  He has good plans for us, plans for hope and a future of hope and prosperity (Jer 29;11) 

When I started asking Why are you downcast O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?”, the answer was Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God”(Ps. 42:5).

We can face the challenges and uncertainties with confidence by trusting God “with all our heart.” When we lean on His understanding rather than our own, we have the assurance of His wisdom. “He will direct and make [our] path[s] straight and plain.” (Prov. 3:5-6) 

PROMISE #2 – He is our refuge.

“God is our Refuge and Strength, mighty and impenetrable. A very present and well proved help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1)

When we begin to feel hopeless in the face of all the stresses and uncertainties of 2020, we need to seek the refuge that can be found in God alone. His compassions are new every morning and his faithfulness is unending! (Lam 3:22-23P)

PROMISE #3 – He is our comfort.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the GOD OF ALL COMFORT, who comforts us in ALL OUR TROUBLES so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4) emphasis added

We can find comfort and consolation for the losses and disappointments 2020 has brought in its wake because Jesus is a High priest who KNOWS and UNDERSTANDS our human frailty and needs, from the inside out. Because He has shared in our weaknesses and infirmities, He knows what we are going through. (Heb. 4:15) When we seek comfort in Him, we can learn to be content in all circumstances because in Him, we will know the secret of facing any circumstance, even 2020. (Phil 4:11)

 

 

WATER FOR A THIRSTY SOUL: a 2020 Survival Guide

Photo by Daniel Watson from PexelsPhoto by Daniel Watson


I love rain. I love the sound, the smell. I love standing in a gentle rain on a warm summer day.

Listening to the patter of rain on my porch I began to contemplate the nature of water. Water is really amazing stuff.  You can drink it, wash in it, use it to put out fires. It makes plants grow and carves canyons through solid rock. It’s as tiny as a drop of rain and as big as the ocean. It’s a gentle shower or a mighty torrent overwhelming everything in its path.

Water is crucial to our survival, more critical than food. A human being can go about three weeks without food. We will only last three DAYS without water. Water sustains life. We spend the first part of our lives floating in it as God knits us together in our mother’s womb.

Water can take life as well. I lived near the beautiful Clear Creek River, a crystal-clear river flowing down from the peaks of the Colorado Rockies. It’s as dangerous as it is beautiful. It runs fast and the current is strong. In addition, the river hides boulders and pockets of strong undertow. Every year someone would disappear on the river only to reappear days later when the river’s under tow released their bodies. As much as I was in awe of the beauty of that river, I had a healthy respect for its power.

The nature of water is similar to the nature of God. He is water for the thirsty soul. He washes us through the Word until we are as white as snow. He quenches the flaming arrows of the enemy. He causes our faith to grow. He carves through the stony heart of sin to restore the years the locus ate. He is the still small voice and the creator of the universe who flooded the earth and shakes its foundations.

He sustains our lives. Going more than three days without Him can be deadly. He desires a relationship with us that is as intimate and vital as our relationship to the water in the womb. When we come to know God, we are in awe of His beauty and have a healthy respect for His power.

This is a season where understanding the nature of God can truly be water for a thirsty soul. As things change on a seemingly daily basis it can feel like being swept away in the current of a strong river. The stresses of working from home and managing children, family and finances in this COVID dominated atmosphere can feel like being sucked into an undertow. The pressure on marriages can increase the frequency and intensity of marital conflict until it feels like you have slammed into a hidden boulder.

Thankfully we have a God who able to care for our needs no matter the season. If we place our trust and hope in the Lord, we “shall be like a tree planted by waters which spreads out its roots by the river and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green”. We need not be “be anxious in [this] year of drought, nor will  [we] cease from yielding fruit” (Jer. 17:8 NKJV). When we believe in Him “rivers of living water will burst out from within [us], flowing from [our] innermost being just like scripture says!” (John 7:38 TPT)

SEEK JUSTICE: Micah 6:8


Seek Justice Matheus Viana from Pexels

Photo by Matheus Viana


Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24 AMP)

We are facing real issues of injustice in our nation right now. The deaths of Floyd, Arbery and Taylor are deeply painful wounds in a long standing and evil injustice. People are profoundly hurt and justifiably angry. It is an injustice that is wounding our hearts and souls, and our nation.

I truly believe most people are united in the desire to bring this evil to an end. How do we seek justice without going to war against each other? How do we create safe places for people to speak their pain and hurt in a way that fosters true healing and unity? That is unity, NOT uniformity.

In studying the life of Jacob I have found my way through. I have found my voice. I am not saying I have all the answers. I don’t. However, in Jacob’s story I see a way to address the situation. The thing that has stood out to me most in this study, is the relationships, especially the relationship between Jacob and Laban.

Jacob worked for Laban for 20 years, 14 of those as an indentured servant. Throughout their relationship, Laban operated deceptively and opportunistically. At every turn he cheated Jacob out of Jacobs pay to benefit himself and keep Jacob indentured. It was one betrayal after another. In that time Laban profited tremendously from Jacobs abilities and favor with God.

It is the hallmark of the abuser to devalue others and see them only as tools to be used. Laban valued Jacob only for what he could get from Jacob and used him. By contrast Jacob valued Laban as a creation of the almighty and dealt with him with integrity. Jacob exercised great integrity and humility. To be VERY clear; humility is NEVER to be understood as passively complying with someone who uses and abuses you! Real humility, the humility that Jacob displayed, was to acknowledge Laban as a human being made in the image of God, whether Laban reflected it or not. Jacob submitted himself to God, then dealt with Laban was an extension of his relationship with God. That takes real strength of character and True integrity.

After 20 years of servitude, Jacob asked to leave with his family. Laban offered Jacob a salary. Laban doesn’t do this from a place of integrity. He does it so he can continue to benefit from Jacob’s skill and favor with God. Because Jacob is following God’s lead, he agrees to Laban’s terms for wages. True to character Laban continues to use and cheat him.

Amazingly, Jacob didn’t use Laban’s breach of contract as a reason, though justified, to go to war with him. Instead of fighting against Laban’s deception and treachery, Jacob stays within the terms of the contract and allows God to turn events to Jacobs benefit. No matter how Laban cheated, God used Laban’s treachery to benefit Jacob. Because he followed God’s lead, Jacob prevailed and God was able to prosper and protect him in a way that would have been impossible otherwise.

Ultimately God Himself deals the blow that ends Laban’s abuses. God tells Jacob he is free to go without Laban’s consent and warns Laban to leave Jacob unmolested. Laban can’t quite do that, so he confronts Jacob about ‘sneaking away’. Jacob responds, “if the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac, had not been with me you would surely have sent me away now empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and humiliation and the labor of my hands and rebuked you.” (Gen. 31:42) It is Laban who walks away empty-handed. Jacob prevails.

Jacob’s integrity and humility in the face of Laban’s injustice are why he prevails. It is one of the reasons God changed his name to Israel. Israel means contender or one who prevails. Jacob contended with Laban, but it wasn’t all out war. Like a prizefighter, Jacobs made choices and took actions based on godly values and principles. As a result, Jacob prevailed. I want to believe that Laban was changed through this interaction but I honestly don’t know. What I do know is I need to choose whose lead will I follow?

Will I be like Laban valuing people only for what I can get out of them to further my agenda?

OR

Will I choose to be like Jacob and acknowledge the image of God in everyone and treat them with integrity and respect?

Like Jacob we need to follow God’s lead in the present and demonic situation. We do what God tells us to do and move when he calls us to move. We allow humility and integrity to direct our actions. We acknowledge and honor the image of God in every human being. We speak humbly with the strength of the Spirit. We wrestle with God and NEVER let go until He changes our name, until He transforms us into godly contenders who prevail without destroying. Then whatever God tells us to do, we do it! Perhaps then God can bring an end to the humiliation and affliction of racism.

THE VALUE OF LIFE

God said, Let us make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness…In the image and likeness of God He created them: male and female He created them. (Gen 2:26, 27 AMP)

I avoided watching the George Floyd video. I have lived through enough violence in my life, that seeing it affects me deeply. A trusted friend suggested I needed to see it, so I watched. I was horrified by what I saw! It gutted me! Seeing a police officer, sworn to protect citizens and uphold the law, murder a man in such a brutal and indifferent manner shredded my soul! Now, everyone wants to put their spin on it.  ‘He was a lifelong petty criminal with a history of drugs.’  ‘He was a Bible believing Christian with a history of ministry’

The fact is, neither of those things matter. If he had been a full-on enforcer for the worst gang in the country, responsible multiple deaths, his murder was still unjust and wrong. It is not a police officers’ job to execute punishment for crimes by kneeling on someone’s neck until they are dead. His life was not the officer’s to take.  IF, by the laws of this country, George Floyd had been CONVICTED of crimes worthy of the death penalty, it is the job of the court system to determine and dole out punishment. If that had happened, it certainly would not have been the cruel and unusual punishment exacted by that officer. Likewise, it doesn’t make his death more unjust or more wrong, if he was a Bible believing minister. It might make it more tragic but not more unjust or more wrong.

The value of human life isn’t based on good behavior or devalued by bad.  A person’s character may be tarnished by bad behavior, but our value as human beings is a constant based on being made in the image of God, plain and simple. It can’t be changed. It can’t be enhanced or diminished. Our value is inherent, meaning it is a permanent and essential part of being human. It can’t be taken away. George Floyd was deprived of the basic human right of life by an act of depraved indifference to his value as a human being made in the image of God.  It is wrong on its face.  How George lived his life does not determine his value as a human being or justify taking his life.     

Whenever we start defining the value of human life based on something other than being made in the image of God, we are on DANGEROUS ground. We have missed the point. Defining the value of another human being based on good or bad behavior, the colour of their skin or any other category we want to place people in, is a trap from the enemy. It is wrong. It is evil incarnate. Left unchallenged, it will ultimately lead to the subjugation and destruction of the value of all humanity under the heels of hateful and evil people. It MUST be rooted out and opposed in all its forms!

Mr. Floyd may have committed a crime.  If he did, he deserved to be tried in a court of law. If convicted he deserved to be given a punishment equal to his crime.  He did not deserve to be deprived of his value and dignity as a human being. He did not deserve to be murdered in the street in the brutal, depraved and racist way he was. We need to value and protect human life and treat each other with dignity even, and perhaps especially, in difficult circumstances. When we are in situations of conflict, we need to protect the rights and dignity of all people or no one will have either. Every life is valuable. Every life matters, without exception

 

 

 

 

 

WALKING BY FAITH: a 2020 Survival Guide



“However, we possess this precious treasure, the divine light of the Gospel, in frail, human vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of power may be from God… We are hedged in and pressed on every side, troubled and oppressed, but not crushed, we suffer embarrassments and we are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair. We are pursued but not deserted to stand alone; we are struck down to the ground, but never…destroyed” 2 Cor 4:7-9 AMP

With COVID being such a BIG part of our daily lives, these words have taken on a new meaning. We are painfully aware of the frailty and vulnerability of our bodies. If you’re sheltering, being hedged in is not a metaphor, it’s a reality. Social distancing can lead to almost total isolation for those who are sheltering alone.

COVID is pressing in on EVERY side, oppressing the whole world. We are struggling to find a way out. We are working to understand how to contain its spread and heal those who have been infected. It can all seem so devastating. However, we have a promise from God, Himself. He promises that that we will not be crushed, or driven to despair. We will NOT be deserted or forced to face this crisis alone! We will NOT be destroyed!

But what if we’re not experiencing these promises? How do we get to a place where we can live this victory?

“For we walk by faith, not by sight, living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises.” 2 Cor 5:7 AMP

Walking by faith is something we all aspire to do. But let’s face it, it’s one of the hardest things for us to accomplish. Part of the reason it’s so hard, is that walking by faith means that we aren’t in control. Few of us are overly comfortable with being out of control. I know I am not!

I recently experienced a visual disturbance in my brain that caused me to see double. For over two weeks, walking anywhere was a major trial. The only way I managed it, was to walk eyes closed. This worked well enough in our house. I have lived here for almost 20 years. My body has the muscle memory of every inch of our home. I subconsciously know exactly how many steps from our bedroom door to the top of our stairs. I just had to trust my bodies internal direction.

Walking in our house was one thing. Walking outside was a whole different problem. Every evening my husband and I go for a walk together. We have done this almost every night since we were married. Our nightly walk is something I LOVE. I was unwilling to give it up. So, I closed my eyes, placed my hand in my husband’s hand and let him lead me through our evening walk.

At first, it was difficult. I was scared. However, it didn’t take long before I was moving along comfortably at our normal pace. Why? Because I trust my husband. I know his love for me. I know the quality and composition of his character. He takes his vow to provide for and protect me, wild child that I am, very seriously! No easy task I can assure you! I was able walk beside him blindly, confident in my safety, because I know he cares for me affectionately and watches over me carefully. The same is true when it comes to faith.

To walk by faith, we need two things.

1) We need to put our hand in God’s mighty hand and trust Him to lead us. If we allow Him to, He will guide us safely through, not just COVID, but all of life!

2) Walking by faith requires that we get to know the One we are trusting with our welfare. We need to know God LOVES us! To walk by faith, we need a RELATIONSHIP with Him.

We need to know the quality and composition of His character. We need to believe that He protects and provides for us every minute of every day. We need to know that He cares for us affectionately and watches over us carefully. When we know this, we can cast the whole of our cares; all our worries, anxieties, and all our concerns, regarding the COVID situation and all of life, onto Him and walk by faith. (1 Peter 5:7)

When we know the One making the promises, it becomes easy to live our lives trusting CONFIDENTLY in those promises. Because we KNOW Him, we are able to walk by faith not by sight.