Monday, April 22, 2013

The God Who Gives

After talking about encouragement yesterday I studied it a little further. This morning's plan was to share Romans 15:5 which says: Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.(NASB) First of all, it's pretty amazing that He just gives us encouragement. There's no stipulation - when you pray, if you ask, if you follow all the rules in the book; it just says He gives patience and encouragement. As a caregiver this is good to know, because if I feel that I am lacking in persevering or encouragement I know I can go to Him and ask Him to help me make it another day...and He will.
 

As I was meditating on this particular scripture I stopped on the phrase the God who gives and did a quick search. What I found was pretty amazing. He really gives us a lot! Here's a list of some of the scriptures that I found by searching the God who gives - these are only the NASB version too - if you run other versions through Bible Gateway's search you'll find a lot more!

I found that God gives:

  • songs in the night (Job 35:10)
  • grace and glory (Psalm 84:11)
  • breath and spirit (Isaiah 42:5)
  • rain in its season (Jeremiah 5:24)
  • the Spirit without measure (John 3:34)
  • the victory (1 Corinthians 15:57)
  • His Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:8)
  • life (I Timothy 6:13)
  • wisdom (James 1:5)
That's a pretty good list of the things God just gives away, don't you think? As caregivers our needs can be on many levels emotional, spiritual, physical, in relationships, financial, etc. He knows we are flesh and blood and He knows we can be needy. Notice there are no things listed here - houses, cars, lands. It's all stuff to help us carry on while we are still traveling this side of eternity. It's like He is going to make sure that we are equipped to make it through this life to eternity. All of these are needed now - wisdom, life, rain (spirit and soul!), Holy Spirit, grace, songs in the night and encouragement - which is where we started! What do you need to make it today? He has it - and He gives it.

Today I will meditate on how He gives to us freely. I will think about how encouraging it is to know that He has already provided the things I need to make it through one more day. Today I'll meditate on all these things that He gives and I will be thankful for His provision of peace and encouragement. Will you join me?


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Where'd Y'all Go?

As caregivers we can spend a lot of time alone or with just our loved one. When they are non-verbal, it adds an extra dimension to the loneliness we can feel. Loneliness and depression can be major struggles not only for the caregiver, but for those who are going through life's trials that are continuing with no end in sight.

There are lots of scriptures on encouragement in the Bible; but I noticed that about 80 to 90 percent of them involved someone encouraging another person. I had to chuckle since that's sort of part of the problem for caregivers - there's no person around to offer us that encouragement. This can add to the feelings of aloneness and loneliness. So once again - it's up to us to do it! And that- we can!

First of all, it's important to realize that during those times when we become burdened beneath the load - it is not a lack of faith.If we take an honest look around - we run to Him and cling to Him more tightly when we feel that we cannot take another step. There is no lack of faith for the weary or battle worn soldier-it's inevitable that we will get tired, weary, and oftentimes even discouraged under the daily load of care that we bear. Clinging tightly to our God is not the lack of faith - it's a demonstration that we are still holding on. So don't beat yourself up for being tired, weary, or discouraged...it's part of the package.

In I Samuel 30:6 David found himself in a very tight spot. They had just sent him home from a battle he was really wanting to fight. He was fully capable, ready and willing but some of the men did not fully trust David yet; so the commander sent him home. As he and his men came into camp they found it ransacked and raided. Their wives were gone, their children were taken captive and the warriors were distraught. It says that they wept until there was no strength left to weep. (v.4) Now that's a picture for you - these battle hardened soldiers crying and crying. (I don't feel so bad now! lol)

To add to the discouragement- the other men started talking about stoning David and blaming him for their misfortune. He was in a very tight spot. Just like the caregiver, he found himself in a place with no one there to encourage him. So what did he do? The old KJV says he encouraged himself in the Lord. The NASB says that he strengthened himself in the Lord his God. And that may well be where we are today  - we must encourage ourselves.

Today I will encourage myself by meditating on the truth that God is walking in this living furnace with me - He has not abandoned me. I will meditate on the truth that He  strengthens me to walk this walk. I will also concentrate on clinging to Him today. Will you join me?

Monday, April 15, 2013

TheThings We Don't Understand

Why do bad things have to happen at all? Ever wonder that? I've given it a lot of thought over the last few years. Tragedy can certainly wreak havoc on what we are used to calling faith. I was always taught rather directly or indirectly that faith kept bad things from occurring. It made me feel like if I really trusted God, then things like traumatic brain injuries, strokes or any type of debilitating illness wouldn't happen to me or my family. That's just not true! Everyone of our Bible heroes are heroes because of the adversity they faced. But does every story have to have a good ending?

Moses got the children of Israel to just outside the promised land - he didn't really deliver the goods. He also disobeyed God and didn't get to go in himself. We don't like to think about that though because it destroys our little "Disney" endings. Gideon is a favorite story of mine - but we don't like reading past the part where he wins the battle to learn that he ended up making an idol that eventually led him and all his followers astray. Sounds depressing doesn't it?

When I look at my life as a caregiver I am not really seeing a happy ending. It's a prison I chose and would not have it any other way. But it is not generally pleasant and there is pain and grief every single day. God never promised us a happy ending here on this earth. And no matter what people say, He didn't promise us a life of bliss free from personal struggles either. The days and nights can get so long sometimes. He did promise us that He would keep our souls. He keeps the part of us that makes us - us. Nothing, no type of tragedy can take my soul - even in death I will be with Him. Job even understood that. In Job 19:25-26 he says this: I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God. I will see Him for myself. Yes, I will see Him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

I really can't see where God promises to keep our lives free from tragedy. But He does keep us. He holds us when the night gets longer and darker than we could have ever imagined. He strengthens us when the days get worrisome and tiresome and we do not know if we can go on one more step. He encourages us when we are not sure there is an end in sight. We will see Him! Even if He is the one carrying us through to the other side!

Today I will meditate on the truth that He is with me now - no matter what the circumstances are shouting at me. I will trade Him my piddly strength and be clothed in His to make today. I will walk toward Him whether or not I see a "happy ending" in sight! Today - I'll walk with Him and meditate on the fact that He is walking beside me (except when He has to carry me!). Will you join me?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Controlled and Sustained

I've been out of the "main-stream" life now for about 4 and a half years and I am still rethinking faith. As far as God goes, there's no doubt in my mind that He is. But I frequently return to the topic of faith because as westerners I do not think we really get it. So last night and this morning during my devotions I read and reread Hebrews 11 - The Hall of Faith for believers. This time it was verse 13 that stuck out to me the most.

Verse 13 states: These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of God's promises...This statement is very contrary to our western church culture. We are taught to say it 'til we see it and when we see it somehow we think that we can measure faith by tangible means. However, here in Hebrews our list of Bible heroes never saw what they were praying for yet are respected for their faith.

Faith is not so much believing 'til we're receiving as it is holding on to what we will never be able to see. Faith is not weakened by a sick or ill body. Faith is not lessened by dire circumstances. Tragedy cannot touch faith, troubles cannot diminish faith. Now faith is... Knowing that God is...period and continuing to hold on to Him no matter what the circumstances is faith.

Peter demonstrated faith when he jumped out of a boat in a storm. Daniel demonstrated faith from inside the lion's den. Noah was carried through the flood by faith in God. Verse 36 gives us a rather serious look at faith as it says: they were stoned to death, sawn asunder, slaughtered by the sword, destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated  all without receiving the promise - of the Christ. In our mamby pamby "Christian" world here in the United States we do not know anything about that yet. We are still caught up in what faith can get us - or so we think. But for real furnace walkers we understand that sustaining faith that does not make all the "bad things" go away - it simply sustains you while you walk through...still clinging to Him.

Today I will meditate on His eternal presence and how He is still with me in the fire. (Seriously - where would He go? He's omnipresent!) I'll think about holding on to Him more tightly and getting to know Him more intimately as He sustains me in the fire. Will you join me?