Month: June 2016

Hope in the Midst of Suffering

Blog_DesertRainbow“But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of a table laden with choice food.” (Job 36:15-16)

So often our first response to suffering is to cry from the depths of our hearts, “GET ME OUT OF THIS!” The temptation is to exert all our efforts in pursuing escape. We come out of the fight wearier than we started, our suffering compounded by our disappointment.

Notice the verse above says God delivers us in our suffering, not necessarily from it. When faced with the threat of death by fiery furnace, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego responded with genuine faith in saying, “the God we serve is able to save us,” while also acknowledging that if he chose not to, they would still worship him. The outcome of their faith was a walk with God in the midst of the fire. They had to go into the fire before they could meet with God in the midst. And they came out unharmed.

John the Baptist faced a similar crisis of faith. In his prison cell, faced with beheading, he questioned whether Jesus was truly the Messiah come to save. If he’s truly the Savior, why doesn’t he save me from the hands of this madman who’s about to kill me? Jesus’ response? “Blessed is the man who does not stumble on account of me.” In other words, we’re blessed when God fails to live up to our expectations yet we continue in faith, knowing his purposes are greater than our own.

God is who he chooses to be, not who we make him to be. He does what he wills, not always what we want. When we embrace this truth, he speaks to us in our affliction, and we’re freed from the restrictions of our expectations. His “wooing us from the jaws of distress” is a picture of what takes place internally—the freedom of joy independent of our circumstances. Whether or not he physically delivers us, we feast on his word—walking closely with him in the midst of the fire…knowing him more intimately as a result, and walking with a more genuine faith when the fire finally dies.

Photo Credit: Desert Rainbow | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

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There’s Beauty in it All

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Just as there’s beauty and purpose in every season, there’s beauty and purpose for everything that comes to our lives, good or bad.

Source: Weathering the Whethers of Life

Photo Credit: The Four Seasons Free Stock Photo – Public Domain Picture

If Tomorrow Never Comes

Blog_SunsetOverMountainsthere is hope
beyond tomorrow
if tomorrow never comes

there’s a joy
deeper than sorrow
light greater than the sun

there is peace
beyond all suffering
and hope beyond despair

there’s life
beyond all mourning
an end to every tear

there’s a future
that’s more certain
than this earth could ever give

beyond death’s
dismal curtain
there’s a promise that will live

the hands
that made the heavens
hold the gift of life

of peace
that is unending
and love that never dies

there is an end
to sorrow
when life ends, we’ve just begun

there is hope
beyond tomorrow
if tomorrow never comes

 

Photo Credit: Sunset over the Mountains  www.goodfreephotos.com

Poem by j.e. fernandez

Never the Same

Blog_PlantInDryCrackedMud

Only God’s supernatural power can enable us to change. Only His love can so radically transform us that our lives are never the same. And only then, out of gratitude, can we live the lives we were destined to live.

 

Source: Do Not Read this Blog Post

Photo Credit: Plant in dried cracked mud | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Do Not Read this Blog Post

Blog_Warning_LawThe sign said, “do not throw stones.” Nothing ambiguous about it. But at different times throughout the day, as we walked along the beach, the common scene was that of people throwing rocks…at the sign.

What is it about the law that makes us want to do the opposite? What is it about rules that arouse disobedience? And what weakness within motivates rebellion? The law cannot change a man any more than the mirror that exposes a dirty face can make it clean.

When they were teens, my husband and his brother decided to play a joke on their friend. While he was sleeping, they decorated his face with marker then woke him when they arrived at the local burger joint. What do you think the guy did when he saw his face in the bathroom mirror? Screamed, yes. But did he then take the mirror off the wall to wash his face? No. The mirror pointed him to the only thing that could make him clean…water.

Lasting change can only come through our recognition of the powerlessness of the law to change us. The law, like the curb on a street, can keep us safe. And like a target, it shows us where to place our aim. But like a mirror, it shows us how far we fall short…and how much we need divine intervention if we’re ever to change. Only God’s supernatural power can enable us to change. Only His love can so radically transform us that our lives are never the same. And only then, out of gratitude, can we live the lives we were destined to live.

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do…” (Romans 8:2-3)

Quenched

Blog_Water

We need God just like we need the water we drink. God is the giver and the sustainer of all life. We can search for satisfaction in other ways, but nothing will quench our thirst like knowing the God who created us and fulfilling the purpose he created us to fulfill.

 

Source: Obey Your Thirst

Photo Credit: Water – Free images on Pixabay

Thirsty

RSCN6795_1916When my daughter was a baby, we frequented many doctor’s appointments. She especially enjoyed one where I had to get my blood drawn, laughing hysterically throughout, clearly relieved (if not entertained) by the fact that she was not on the receiving end of all the needles this time. I, on the other hand, was not amused.

Once the nurse finally found my vein, the blood was not flowing freely. After watching my blood drip slowly into the vial, the nurse asked, “Did you drink anything today?”

Apparently juice didn’t count, so the nurse gave me two cups of water to drink immediately. A mere two minutes passed after I swallowed. The nurse prepared my arm and stuck me with another needle (to my daughter’s great delight!), and the vials were filled within seconds.

I had just seen a vivid illustration of what I’ve known for years: our bodies require water just to function at a normal level. My blood didn’t flow freely until I drank the water I needed. That day, I left the doctor’s office with a renewed resolve to drink more WATER.

Most of us would admit we’d rather have our water in some other form: flavored, sweetened, carbonated. And while these drinks may satisfy us temporarily, they don’t have the lasting benefits of water.

Our attitude toward water reflects our view of what satisfies in life. We often pursue things that have no lasting benefits—things that leave us just like we started: thirsty.

Jesus said he is the water of life, and whoever drinks the water he gives will never thirst again. In other words, we need God just like we need the water we drink. God is the giver and the sustainer of all life. We can search for satisfaction in other ways, but nothing will quench our thirst like knowing the God who created us and fulfilling the purpose he created us to fulfill.

One popular commercial says, “Obey your thirst.” To do this, we have to know what we’re thirsty for. We can continue to pursue things that leave us empty, or we can let God quench our thirst permanently with the knowledge of His perfect love, which has the power to satisfy our deepest needs.

 

Photo Copyright j.e. fernandez