Be Strong and Courageous

II Chronicles 32 is a wonderful example of the sovereignty of God and proof that when we place our full trust in God, He will cause us to be victorious!

I’ve been spending some time reading and re-reading this chapter to slowly digest its true meaning.  I love verses 7 and 8 in particular:

“Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him;

With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.  And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah, king of Judah.”

Wow.  God was saying through Hezekiah – “Hey, I’ve got your back!  The odds may not be favorable for you but, no worries.  I’m bigger; I’m greater than your foes.”

Sometimes we place God is this super small box and believe that He is somewhere up in the sky looking down on us, probably frowning, and that He is incapable of moving in our situation.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Bible says that God is touched with the feelings of our infirmities.  He cares, folks.  He has loved us with an everlasting love.  Above all, He wants us to seek Him out and to trust Him.  How can you have a relationship with someone if you are unwilling to trust them on the most basic level?

When we are able to fully trust God and place our lives in His hands, we will then begin to see Him move in our lives in ways we never thought possible.

“…but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”  Yes!

We build up our faith by reading the Word of God.  And when we do this, our faith is able to grow and we are then in a position to be “strong and courageous”, not in our own strength or might; but in God’s strength.  He will give us supernatural strength to walk through whatever valley you find yourself in today.  He is able.  He is more than enough.

Will you trust Him?

In our weakness, He is strong.   If you feel weak in your faith today, I encourage you to get into the Word of God.  It is there you will find strength.

May God bless you and may you find courage and strength in God today!

I Will Catch You

As I lie on the CT scan table, the gracious and very thoughtful technician gave me these simple instructions – “Just fall back in my arms and I will catch you and very slowly lower you.”  Me, in my pain wracked state just one day post-op from my hysterectomy, said, “Are you sure?”.

He assured me he was more than capable of supporting my weight and making the transition as gentle and easy as humanly possible.  I was deeply touched by his compassion on me and empathy as I endured this ordeal.

His instruction required trust on my part and the ability to fully place my life in his arms.  I was reminded of this scenario yesterday after I received a phone call from my health insurance company notifying me of a cancer support program they offer.  Anything from wigs to out of state hospital and lodging requests to community resources, etc.  The representative on the phone was very chipper and upbeat as she reiterated all of the wonderful facets of this program and the fact that I do not have to go this road alone.  As she concluded our mostly one-sided conversation, she felt the need to add that with a diagnosis like this, “Perhaps it causes us to pause and contemplate our priorities and the important things in life.”  I’m sure it was an attempt to comfort and encourage, however, what she doesn’t know is, I’ve been a deep thinker all of my life and since losing my mother when I was 23, I’ve perpetually considered life’s true priorities.  At any rate, we ended the conversation with me thanking her for the call, despite the fact that I was left with the feeling that certainly this should’ve been directed toward someone else, not me.

As I stood in front of the bathroom vanity, tears began to fall as I told God that I could not take this cancer journey.  His reply: “Just trust me.”

I said, “I’m not strong enough.”

God said, “In your weakness, I am strong.”

I retorted, “I don’t want to go through this.”

God said, “If you don’t, many won’t see your testimony of my goodness.”

Trust.

God said, “I will be with you.  I will never leave you.”

Clearly I have some work to do in the trust department.  I have walked with God for forty-one years and we have overcome some real mountains, giants and obstacles that I thought surely would swallow me alive.  They didn’t.  I’m still here.  Cancer won’t overcome me either.  Ever since I received the news just nine days ago, God has constantly been assuring me that He will walk this journey with me and that I will get through this.

Yesterday I actually felt somewhat well enough to unload the dishwasher and noticed a 3×5 card I taped to the inside of our kitchen cabinets as I put the plates away, which read:

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” ~ Isaiah 43:2

Later in the afternoon, there was a loud knock on the front door.  My son peeked out the front window and noted it was our neighbors, a young couple in their early 30’s and their year and a half baby girl.  I happily greeted them as they inquired about how I was doing.  They also shared about a time when they were newly married, the wife was referred to an oncologist due to some highly irregular lab work.  It turned out to be nothing in the end but they wanted me to know they understand the emotional ups and downs of news like this.

I was very encouraged by their little visit and touched that they would take the time to stop by and see how I was doing.  God has orchestrated such timely encounters over the last several days to combat the discouragement and fear of the unknown.  When it all comes down to it, do any of us know the future?  No.

I had a great aunt who was a little eccentric, let’s just say, but we loved her dearly.  She never married and lived to be 89 years old, despite having long survived a brain tumor the size of a grapefruit!  She was very stubborn.  Perhaps that was her secret to longevity, along with good genes.  She was my grandmother’s sister and my grandmother lived to be 98.

This great aunt said something I must’ve thought profound because it has stayed with me for many years:

“It’s a good thing we don’t know what’s ahead of us.  Just do the best you can.”

For a simple, country woman who used to raise chickens, she sure had a lot of wisdom.  No truer words were ever spoken.

Life sometimes throws us curve balls.  No one can anticipate them.  They simply come.  Our response must be trust.  God will catch us if we merely trust.

Things Beyond Your Control

Did you get to choose your parents?  Your eye color?  Your height?  The size of your feet?  No?  What about the location of your birth?  The year you were born?

And once you were born, what about your socioeconomic lot in life? Later, as an adult and particularly as a parent or spouse, the idea of circumstances unraveling beyond your wishes becomes crystal clear.

We can, however, choose our thoughts, our priorities, our daily routines, our diets, our work out plans, our spouses, our friends, but there are countless situations that require trusting God that He will work all things together for our good and ultimately for His glory.  Have you found this to be true?

I currently have a situation with someone close to me that if I had a magic button to make them do what I would prefer, I would certainly depress it.  My plan, of course, is the best course of action, and theirs is simply not.  They are being selfish and not seeing things through the lens of love.  At least this is my limited scope of vision from where I sit today.  I am frustrated.  I am angry.  I am not getting my way, at least not presently.

The Lord in his gentle kindness whispered to my heart yesterday, “Let it go.  It will all work out. Put it in my hands.”  Yes, God, you are so right.  And that is what I have chosen to do in the end, but not without first having a two year old tantrum because things were not unfolding the way I demanded.

Control.  Yes, I like control.  I would like life to be predictable, safe.  In the full scheme of things, how boring would that be?!  God knows what’s best for His children.

I am reminded once again how very limited our line of sight truly is, how minuscule the fraction of the present we see compared to God’s ultimate plan.

Yes, I’ve seen disappointments, frustrations in life, but I’ve also seen the hand of God patiently weave the fabric of my life together in such a loving way.  In the end, everything will be taken care of.  Life’s situations rarely reach the frantic level of emergency that I sometimes bestow on them.

Learning to trust more and worry less….that is a life goal that I must be reminded of daily.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  ~ Proverbs 3:5-6