One of the most powerful yet subtle ways that the Lord moves in our lives is through people. Today’s verse is from 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and reads: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
As I was contemplating what to share today, I was reminded of this little verse in Mathew 14:14. It is often overlooked because it immediately presides one of the great miracles of the Gospels: when Jesus feed five thousand people with two fish and five loaves of bread. But I want to focus on Mathew 14:14 today.
I do not know about you, but I find it very hard to stay sad, discouraged, upset, apathetic, hurt or any other negative feeling when I am praising the Lord. There is something about the very act of giving thanks to God, even when it seems we have very little to be thankful for, that lifts my mood, eases my burdens, and floods me with peace. It is not always easy to find things to be thankful for.
Today is November 1st, and as is my custom, I try to spend the entire month in a special spirit of thankfulness. We should be grateful all year long, but it is not uncommon throughout the world and human history for people to recognize a time of special thankfulness, usually around harvest time. In Biblical times, two of the major feasts outlined in Scripture were specifically connected with harvest and showing gratitude to the Lord for His blessings.
I am a planner. I like to have a general direction determined, an end goal in mind, and actionable steps to reach it. This is the type of person I am, and I feel overwhelmed and stressed when I cannot meet my own expectations, complete the tasks I set for myself, or reach my end goal. However, sometimes life gets in the way of our carefully laid plans. An unexpected automotive expense, a life-changing medical diagnosis, whatever it may be, Murphy’s law seems to apply especially to plans. I learned a long time ago that even though I am a planner, I need to be flexible. The tree that bends and sways in the wind of change is less likely to snap under pressure or be blown completely over — roots and all.
Relying only on God means fully, completely leaning on His strength no matter the situation, no matter the cost, no matter the end. Yes, even unto death. For this world is not our home, and there is something far greater in store. May every deed we do, every word we say — even in the midst of our greatest trials and deepest sorrows — point to the love of the Lord Jesus so that others will see His light shining through us and learn to love Him, too. Friend, that is our purpose and our privilege. To love God with all of our hearts, souls, strength and mind and, because He first loved us, show this love with all of those we meet. (Matthew 22:36-20) May we be able to sing His praises always. Glory to the Father! Glory to the Son! And to the blessed Spirit!
While the child struggled for life, King David pleaded for mercy and healing. He fasted, he prayed, he wept, he laid prostrate on the ground, he refused any form of comfort for seven long, agonizing days. When word of the baby’s death reached David, he rose, washed, worshiped at the Tabernacle, and then returned to normal life activities. Sometimes we read this part and wonder, as his own servants did, how is it that David wrestled with the Lord so deeply while the child still lived but the moment the child passed, he seems to have moved on? I can now say that I understand David like I never have before.
We all could learn from the young man on the bus. May we also never forget to treat others as we, ourselves, would like to be treated — even if we do not receive (on this earth) recognition for doing so or even if it may not be in our favor to doing so.
Every moment, every day is a precious gift of time. Let us cherish the time we have now and, no matter what difficult circumstance you may be going through, claim the peace that the Lord offers. “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Oh, that bright and glorious day! That day when the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. That wonderful and great day when sin and all of its ugly, painful effects will be no more. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, ESV)
Yes, we grieve. We grieve deeply. But we grieve with hope.