Worn out from War?

I’m tired
I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing. “Worn,” Tenth Avenue North

Spiritual warfare. Let’s talk about it. Because…let’s be honest. When you hear about it, you may think of people being overtaken by demons, questioning their faith, or running from God. Right? Maybe?

It can be these things. But it can also be very different. It can happen to the new believer. It can happen to the seasoned. It can occur to the one being “fed” in the back of the pew, and the one standing up front-the pastor. It can happen to the one whose faith is fragile, and the one who has been the most faithful. Spiritual warfare is real and present in all those who work with and for God, and there is a weapon for it.

First, what does it look and feel like?

Yes, spirtiual warfare can come in the form of intense suffering-one after the other. You may feel your life is in shambles. Some may have a crisis of faith, and some may even fall away from God.

Others experience the warfare differently. Maybe you are on the path you feel led by God to be on, but the weight of the world you are carrying daily is becoming increasingly heavy. You are tired. You are listening to voices that tell you it is all too hard, so you get discouraged. Maybe you even start to look around at others who seem to carry it easier, and you don’t know why you can’t. Your prayers seem to hit the ceiling, if you manage to pray at all.

And my prayers are wearing thin
I’m worn even before the day begins
I’m worn I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn so heaven come and flood my eyes

You are just tired. You are worn. This is spiritual warfare, and it can come out of nowhere.

I have been here before. I wonder, even, if pastors get here frequently. Because there can be a constant flood of comparisons. The world can be really heavy at times for us, and there is a strong desire; even an expectation that more needs to be done; and you are the one who needs to do it.

Before, I have chosen the methods of the world, which I now know lead to destruction. Because that is what Satan desires: The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10, NLT

To kill our spirit. Steal our soul. Destroy our faith in God. And we destroy him, not by focusing on the world. All its resources, answers, solutions, and messages. This is likely what got us in this state. Instead, we remember:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Ephesians 6:12-13

We realize that the warfare is not with each other, but Satan; and we put on our armor, focusing on the answers, solutions, messages and truth God provides. It is right there for us. At our disposal-whether written on pages, or at our fingertips in phones-it’s His Word. We choose to read it, to savor it, and to put it into practice, and use it to rebuke the devil.

Warfare is inevitable as a believer, especially in a broken world. Until we reach our final destination, we will have pain. We will have strife, and we have a real enemy that is the ruler of that evil. We do not have to remain worn. We can resist the enemy in prayer, and by consistently calling out to Him, something we may have neglected as we have grown more weary during the battle. He is the weapon when you are worn out from the war, yet often the last one we pick up. After we look to the world. We look to our friends. We look to everyone else to hear our cries to just make it stop, we remember the One who can.

Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:17-18

Perhaps we have the wrong swords in our hand, and sometimes we are reading the wrong words. Statuses that don’t make us feel anything but worse, and words that only fill us and tell us what we “want” to hear, not what we “need to hear.” Open up the TRUTH you need to get out of the pit, to stop letting Satan win the war, and start praying God moves those mountains you are determined can’t be moved. He will show up. He has before when you started fighting back, and He will again. This is a war only won by Him, and last time I checked, we weren’t promised to remain worn, we were promised to win.

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Promises of God: A Reason

Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:16, NLT

“Everything happens for a reason.”

A phrase I have had a problem with a time. Two. Three hundred. And some. For me, at times…it seemed like a pat answer usually given to ease the hurts and struggles of others. We don’t know what else to say at these times. Maybe we do actually see something good coming out of this, and so we want to see the positive. A different perspective.

My problem with it? In my times of hurt. Struggle. Trials. Times I just didn’t understand what God was doing. I didn’t see good. I didn’t get it at all.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Sure. What reason exactly? And can He show me? Like now? Yes. To be real…that was usually how I felt.

But not so much anymore. The phrase has kinda grown on me. One can even say that it is Biblical. We know trials exist because of the sin that entered the world through Adam and Eve. Evil exists because of it, and it’s repercussions and it’s pains are a part of our lives now. We also have a part in these “reasons.” We are knuckleheads. We make unwise choices at times, and so we suffer for them. But I am not talking about these types of things. I am talking about the trials and situations that just make no sense.

If you look at the references to reasons and seasons Solomon makes in Ecclesiastes, Solomon was making a case for things being ordained by God by Him at His specified time:

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NLT

God has a purpose for the time in which He allows things to occur. And while it makes no sense to us, it makes sense to Him. While it may cause us pain. Strife. Stress. Annoyance. It is all according to His plan. To His purpose. One He intended for us long ago.

It’s just hard for us to realize this when we are in the midst of the struggle. Because in the heat, we want the furnace to be cut off. During the test, we want the answers. During the trial, we want to know the verdict. But sometimes, the answer looks more like this: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4, NLT

The reason is often our greater strength. Healing. Hope. And a desire for others to know and have the same.

God gave us hard things so we can walk with someone else through their hard things. The way no one else can, or often will. That’s the reason.

God gave you your unique personality. The one no one seems to “get,” because that is the exact personality that can reach a people that others just can’t reach. He knows you are just the person who can. That’s the reason.

God gave you that vision, then put a mountain, roadblocks, and boulders in the way; because He knew He had something bigger waiting for you. Something He knew you would see through to the end. That’s the reason.

God moved those people. Let them hurt you. Leave you. Ghost you. Because He knew they could not go where you are going. They would have kept you from seeing this vision clearly. That is the reason.

He knew it. He saw it when He was forming you. He knew what you would go you. He knew you would be strong enough to endure it. He carried you through. And He knew you would use it to carry others to Him.

It was all for His reasons.

Promises of God: Healing

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:4, NLT

Today’s devotional is not part of the monthly promises. It’s prompted from my hiatus in my effort to write. My inability to do much at all in fact. But it’s still a promise all the same. One we all rely on. All desire. And sometimes forget is still in God’s timing. And all part of His plan.

Healing.

I’m on day 5 of a migraine. Likely due to pollen from the dogwood blooms. The consistent change in the air here in Virginia. Or my genes. I look like my mother. Except for my dad’s blue eyes, I’m the spitting image of my mom, but from my father I recieved the headaches that I have suffered with since the age of 10, and the spinal arthritis that has ailed me since I was 19. Both of us work through the pain. No need to complain about it. Or lay around and whine. It’s a part of the daily routine.

But I am getting older now, and it is getting harder to manage the day with a head splitting headache, and burning back pain.

So, yes. Some days when I manage to have a few cancellations, I lay down and sleep.

It’s not something I generally talk about. Most people have no clue. You can’t tell just by looking at me. And it isn’t something I can do much about. I have seen a ton of doctors. I take medication that provides little relief. I use that contraption called a TENS unit. I have tried every anti-inflammatory diet. I have had physical therapy. I have had all those cortisone shots that are recommended. Nerve blocks. I walk. I stretch. I exercise. But the pain remains. I have walked to the front of the church and asked for anointing and yet-I still have pain. I still walk around with this pain daily.

Yet, I believe God still heals. Maybe not now. Probably not tomorrow. But He will.

I also know God has the power to heal, but there are times He doesn’t. Paul mentioned this when he spoke of his “thorn:”

Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me—so that I would not become arrogant. I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, NLT

We can only speculate what Paul’s thorn was, but I can relate. Burdens. Pain. I have asked God to take them away. To heal me. But He has not. Are they there to humble me? To remind me that I need Him daily to strengthen me? That I cannot move in my own flesh because I will fail? Yes. Certainly. So likely, healing will not come this side of eternity.

We want healing in our time. And we expect God to heal ALL things. We forget at times that pain and suffering exist because of the sin that came into the world, and yes-God can heal…but pain and suffering are inevitable. God’s healing may not come in the way we desire. It may not come in the form of miracles. Yes. It may come in the form of a new, pain-free body. The new body He gives us when we are called to Him. At the end of time.

We often can’t wrap our minds around this. That a loving, all-powerful God allows this kind of pain.

That pain-free healing isn’t offered to ALL here on earth.

Unfortunately, that’s the consequence of the fall. That’s why it’s so important we turn to Him. So we can have our healing with Him in heaven. So He can give us the strength to endure the pain we will experience here on earth. Are there miracles? Of course there are! But some of us will endure pain. Some of us will continue to live with thorns in the flesh until we get new bodies. But God will give us the power to endure this here on earth.

That’s what He has done for me. That is the miracle. The shift in attitude is the healing. The endurance and perseverance despite the never-ending pain is the testimony.

And what He will do for me in glory will be even more miraculous.

Promises of God: A Hopeful Future

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

I have a bit of a bone to pick with today’s verse. When I hear it spoken at weddings, baby showers, or plastered on graduation cards and gifts, I cringe a little on the inside.

Perhaps a story will help you understand. A little journey through faith.

I received the same verse from Jeremiah on a graduation gift I received upon completing graduate school. It sits on my desk at church, filled with paper clips. When I graduated I had hopes and excitement for the journey ahead like most graduates. I looked at that voice with only thoughts of success and prosperity in my future. Not of the true journey in the years to come.

I loved my job, but the first two years were painful. So much so that that verse in Jeremiah had been abandoned, and Exodus 14:13-14 took its place: But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” A far cry from that one listed on that gift.

I was delivered from these Egyptians to be taken on an even longer journey that would last a couple more years.

God knows I don’t like change. God knows I like to have a semblance of control in my life. I am not at all spontaneous. I am not a “Hey, let’s do this today” person. I do NOT like surprises. But it is the life-changing surprises that were a part of this journey for the past 2-3 years.

It started with my husband’s racing heartbeat and palpitations. He had mentioned it to me in September 2019, making an appointment to see a doctor. Having tests completed. Monitoring his rhythm for several weeks. Until one night, he ended up in the emergency room with a rhythm so high he shouldn’t have been alive.

We sat in the hospital room hearing things like “Vtach, pacemaker, to keep his heart beating, cardiac arrest.” I sat realizing he could die. These doctors had just told me, that if we didn’t do surgery, next time he could die. This was my first lesson in that hope for a future verse. Would I trust in this future when men and women were working on his body just to keep him living? Would I trust the one who gave these men and women this gift, and know He is in charge of the outcome?

Fear of the future was not going to change my circumstances. We were still here. This was still happening. And the other side of this would be good. It always had been.

The reality was this: The events prior to this stay had begun with a night that was painful and chaotic. It began in the midst of one of our ministry endeavors, that in turn set in motion a chain of misery and defeat. A chain of uncertainty that crushed vision, crushed purpose, and left me in my own form of exile for quite some time.

I poured myself into my work, because ministry was too hard, only to be furloughed for several months in 2020. And so began the cycle of more heartbreak. I loved my job. I missed my students. I had so many emotions, and no where for them to go. Here I was quarantined at home with people who had their own confusing emotions.

When I did go back to work, nothing was the same. Video screens were not the connections I so desired, and I absolutely hated it. But because my attempts to do ministry continued to fail, I continued to pour myself into the only thing I felt I could do “right.”

It was the denial of my moving forward to ordination that sent me over the edge. That sent me further into my own personal exile. I wanted to quit ministry altogether, because if I didn’t have all the knowledge I “should” have, what was the point? I spent the better portion of three months in darkness and at all out war with God. Cutting everything and even people off so I could work through the despair, and crawl back.

I did. And I know I am stronger and more resilient. More faithful because of it.

So, why did I share all that? Because…yes. God does promise a hope and a future, and this verse can provide a large amount of peace. But the reality is, God said these words through Jeremiah right before he sent them into a 70 year exile period. A period in which they were enslaved to evil and horrifying rulers.

This verse is a verse of hope. A promise from God to protect us, and provide us everything we need. But He isn’t promising that we won’t suffer. In the world we will have suffering. In our walks as Christians we will face many trials. We will have pain. Heartache. Loss. Hurt. God does not promise that we won’t endure those things-but He does promise that He will be with us through it all. He will not leave us in our defeat. Once the trial and suffering are endured, there is a future waiting just for us that He has ordained.

Our hope and our future. It may come after we suffer a great deal. But it will come. God promises it will come.

It is what it is

The phrase in the picture above. It’s one of my favorites. Coined by my bestie and I to remind ourselves to not worry over things we can’t control. It has carried us through tough things. Even trivial nuisances. I even have a bracelet to commemorate our adoption of the phrase.

However, I heard in a sermon on-line in the past not to say the phrase. Not to use it at all. Like…what???

But it’s my favorite. What do you mean, don’t say it?

For a while I felt a bit convicted about it. Caught myself every time it came out of my mouth. Stopped wearing that bracelet.

But then I started therapy. Started working on acceptance. Of myself. Of life in general. It’s ebbs and flows. What God allows, and what He allows to remain a mystery. What He controls. What He gives me the power to control. What He allows to remain, be. What for Him just “is.”

And I realized “it is what it is.” Most things about this life are simply that.

It’s the hard, straight-up, honest truth.

People don’t like me. “It is what it is.” I can stress over it. Mold myself to fit into boxes He never wanted me to fit into. Or I can accept the fact that some people just won’t like me. Just never will, and be OK with it. I like me. And so does He.

People disappoint. “It is what it is.” We are flawed humans. We hurt. It’s a part of our sin-filled nature. A manifestation of the fall. I can sit and wallow in the hurt, or I can forgive and move on. Create better boundaries, and hope I don’t get hurt in the same way again. Learn from it, so that I don’t dare do the same to anyone else.

Change will come. Both good and bad. “It is what it is.” Some change I will like and I will embrace with open arms. Other change I won’t like so much, and I will fight like crazy to avoid. But fighting won’t keep change from coming. Avoiding won’t keep change from coming. It still comes.

Life has ups and downs. It comes with some worries. Some big. Some small. “It is what it is.” It’s the price paid for living until we see the promised land. I can either wallow in worry endlessly, or I can relish in the fact that there isn’t a worry or a trial He has not seen me through. Even if some have been harder than others.

“It is what it is.”

I am not accepting defeat here. I am not laying down my flag and saying that life has no meaning. No purpose. Or that suffering will always be this way (though the Bible does tell us we will have suffering here….).

What I am saying is, for me…I am accepting life as it comes. I can go through it in a constant state of panic, defeat, or sadness. Or I can let life ebb and flow as it will. I can let God handle things as He will anyway.

It is what it is, because He is what He is.

Giving me a “right” hand

We had put it off for a while. The dentist. The youngest needed a mouth full of work, and with anxiety and sensory needs that kept him from even liking to have his teeth cleaned…we had put it off for months. But we had prepared him for this day. Explained what would occur, how he would feel before. That he would sleep during. Wouldn’t feel a thing.

Of course, as a mom-I was the one having all the feels. As he received the first anesthetic that put him to sleep in the waiting room. As he laid his head onto my right shoulder, and uttered he felt “weird.” As he dozed off. As the dentist and anesthesiologist carried him off to the back, I sat with his mask and glasses beside me. Held them in my right hand and held back tears.

Wishing I could hold his hand in that room. Knowing I had to wait here, but there was someone else with him back there.

As I sat in that waiting room waiting for updates. To be given the OK to go back and be “mom” again, I thought about my own experience on his side. In rooms with anesthesia needles. Only doctors and nurses I didn’t know there to hold my hand.

I had recently had surgery of my own. Not my first experience like his, but an experience nonetheless. A fall on my wrist was the reason. Now, I am right-handed. And while I don’t know the suffering of losing a limb, I know the ordeal of having to learn to use your fingers, your grip, and your dominant hand in the way you once did. While I had a left hand to help do some of the things my dominant right hand couldn’t do, my left hand couldn’t write. It couldn’t type. It couldn’t do the things that had been so easy before. Like pick up anesthesia weary kids and carry them to waiting surgery beds. This right hand…it wasn’t the same.

I also hate feeling helpless, so needing help turning door knobs, or picking up a plate got old, and I was determined to get my strength back.

But…here’s the thing-He was with me just as He was with my wee one. In those rooms, and through that period of healing. Because He is the one who is always beside us giving His “right” hand.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

And again in Psalm 18:35, we are reminded again: Your right hand supports me;
your help has made me great
.

And what is the significance of being provided God’s “right” hand? There are over 130 references in the Bible to the right hand, so surely there must be a significant reason for this. In many references are made to God’s strength. His help. His victory. Something I needed when I lost the use of my “right” hand. Something I often feel I have nothing left of when it comes to being a mom.

And I know I am not the only one. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. You will have seasons when things seem easy. And then a roadblock comes along and the road becomes long and hard again. You wonder if you have what it takes, or if you are just messing your kids up. Or maybe they are messing you up. You really can’t tell anymore.

Why the right hand? Why didn’t God choose the left? Think about it-the right hand of God? It denotes a location of honor, and according to Matthew Henry’s Commentary, when thinking about the reference to the “right hand” in the passage above, Isaiah 41:10-the Israelites were God’s honored people, His chosen. The reference to God’s right hand was meant to provide encouragement to them. That they would not be abandoned, be left discouraged. That he would strengthen them, help them, not allow them to break, and prevent them from falling too hard.

You know who else is honored? Moms. Anyone who is “like a mom.” Or who cares for others.

And so He will do the same for you.

Give you his “right” hand.

So that when your wee one, reaches for yours when he is fresh out of anesthesia and flipping out, you are there to give it-oh so gently, while you rub his soft, long curls with your left one.

When you get home, look down at that hand, the one with little strength to pick up anything, you scoop that wee one up into your arms anyway, because he is yours. Like you are His. Knowing you won’t leave him, like He hasn’t left you. You will stay by his side through this fight that he doesn’t get, just like He stayed by you.

Like He has so many times before. By your “right” side fighting for you. As you fought for him. For so many. You. You honored one. You. You chosen one. You who may be weak and broken. Fallen down for a time. Without the strength of your hand, but never without your constant “right” hand.

The Messy Middle

There is a place I dread visiting these days. For anyone navigating this stage of parenting, you must know this place. It is hidden behind a door in our home. I know who is there. Problem is…I never know what is there. Meaning, I never know what mess I will find. Are those clothes on the floor clean? Are all those cups necessary? Does an actual person live in here? I want to spend time with my teens, but does it have to be in here? Does it have to be in the middle of this mess?

And all the parents of teens said, “Amen.”

Yet…messy teenage rooms aren’t the only messes we hide from.

We run from the messy middle of our own making. Of life’s circumstances. Of the things we just don’t want to discuss, or even deal with all the time. We even run from the messes of others, because we aren’t comfortable carrying them. Or simply don’t know how.

We dread going through the mess of life, like we dread going into our kid’s rooms, and in our dread we hide. We hide behind masks. We plaster on plastic smiles and happy faces. Pretend that everything is “a-ok” so that the outside world believes that all is good up in our heads, and all in our heart.

Or we retreat. We may run and hide. We may shut ourselves out from the world so no one sees us. So we don’t have to explain away our suffering. Or because running feels like pretending to us. Escaping.

We all have messy we don’t want to address, so we dress-up under our masks. We may hope our mask will “pretty it all up.” We fix the outside up, because that masks the pain we don’t address inside. We fix the outside up, because if the outside looks good, and everyone can see it, then life is all good, right?

Sometimes we even mask up by numbing. With whatever mask we choose to hide away behind when we can’t manage to pretty up the outside. The numbing that takes place in the only way we know how to manage that pain on our own. Binge watching. Eating. Gambling. Drinking. Dating. Sleeping. Or just plain running.

We pretend until we have managed the pain on our own. And we have come out of our mess on the other side. Seemingly clean and unscathed. Or so everyone thinks.

We miss something when we mask up. When we run and hide and shut others out. Or numb it. We miss out on showing others what it looks like to live through the messy middle. What it looks like to truly surrender ourselves to our pain.

To survive it.

Because we can’t just pretend it didn’t happen. That we go through it unscathed. Not bruised. Not changed in some way.

No. We went through it. We didn’t put on a mask. We felt it. We couldn’t just numb it. It was painful. We couldn’t hide.

There is something to learn from those who pour it all out, and wade through the mess before them.

Who don’t search for potions, magic elixirs, and people to help them hide from it all.

Who do the work to get through the messy middle stronger, braver, lighter, and more ready to love than ever before.

Anyone can hide.

It takes a warrior to wade. To fight. To muddle through. To pray on knees, and cry hot, hot tears of defeat, anger, or bitterness. Sometimes all of them at once.

To not hide from messy, but to let it hang out in the open. To open doors that are scary to venture into. To have conversations that are uncomfortable. To admit that the mess was of our own making. To take ownership, and get to working on the clean-up, instead of ducking under the covers, and waiting for someone else to come from behind the door to do it.

To admit that through the messy middle, you doubted you would even see the end. Had lost faith in God. Saw more darkness than light. And yes…those prayers? They were definitely more angry than praiseworthy.

It takes bravery and courage to wade through the mess that way.

It’s not comfortable. No. No, it is not. But it is possible-together.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Yes, we make mistakes. And we can admit them to each other, and get through them…with Him-together. But we have to be willing to release our desire to cover up. To cover up when we stumble. To hide when we fall.

In the messy middle, there is no place for masks. They don’t help. They only hurt. They don’t heal. They only cover up gaping wounds with bandaids that actually require stitches.

Be brave. Open the door. Wade through the mess of the chaos lying at your feet. Sit down with someone you trust, and share your messy middle. Because this…our mess. None of it can be waded through alone. It’s in the mess we see the love of God. It’s in our mess, someone else can, too.

How much more?

How much more God? How much more do you want me to take?

As I struggle daily with actually carrying out what He has asked me to do, I wrestle frequently with wanting desperately to just give up. Asking Him to just send someone else, because surely I must not be it.

As I sit here feeling this way again, I am reminded of what Jesus said to God in the Garden of Gesthemane, surely at a point of wanting to give up: “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me.” (Matthew 26:39). Surely wondering why he had to suffer for good.

And at the end of that heart to heart with God, he also said this: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

That will also included me. The will that died a gruesome death on a cross, and poured out love for me.

Who did what it took to reach me.

Putting people in my life to speak truth to me, even if I didn’t listen. Providing hardship after hardship, so I would eventually fall on my knees and seek Him. Who forgave. Loved. Forgave and loved again. Even when I didn’t show the same to Him.

He took as much as it took to reach this one.

So how much more God?

As much as it takes to reach that one.

As much as it takes for someone to feel love.

As much as it takes.

He is protecting me

“But who is protecting us?”

That was the question I asked. After I had once again felt victim to someone’s cruel behavior. A kid, in fact. Discouraged once again that I had spent a number of years (and countless tears) devoting my time, talent, and energy to being light and love in the midst of all that was dark and mean in this world. Discouraged because now I was being mocked, laughed at, and rejected time and time again by those for whom I had made it my calling to protect. For whom I cared. Even loved as if they were my own.

Who was protecting me?

So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you. He will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10

He is protecting me.

Just like he protected the one who died to save me.

Who suffered through more pain than I did. Who was rejected. Mocked. Laughed at. Sold out by those he loved. Who claimed to follow him.

He protects me by giving me rest. He protects me by reminding me that in His Word it reminds me just how worthy I am. He protects me by fighting for me and alongside me. He protects me by never leaving me, even if the world decides I am a joke and rejects me. He protects me by giving me everything I need even in the midst of my suffering.

Though it may be a little while.

He holds me.

He sustains me.

He strengthens me.

He protects me.

And I know He watches me…

I don’t like birds. May seem like a random bit of information. And, it could even seem a little strange, since as a child I used to watch them. Study them. Wonder where they were going. Had been. What their behavior said about them. However, I also remember walking to the school bus and getting pooped on by a bird. I remember getting attacked by one as my brother and I walked through our neighborhood as kids. I don’t really like the gulls who think I packed all those sandwiches on the beach for them.

No. I don’t like birds.

Yet, a bird is the subject of one of my favorite songs when I used to sing in high school…before I ever knew God. Two are tattooed on my hand to remind me of this song, and it’s corresponding verse:

“What is the price of two sparrows-one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” Matthew 10:29

But, I hate birds.

God. He has a sense of humor.

For two summers, I found the time to enjoy my front porch. I wrestled with some hard stuff there. I cried many a tear. Screamed many times at God.

And, was visited each summer by a bird. Tiny little sparrows. No. I ain’t lying.

Yes, during those times when I felt distant from Him-much like a forgotten sparrow that had fallen to the ground-I have watched one of these lonely birds calling to someone in the distance. Pleading desperately on my porch railing, as I pleaded desperately for it to just fly away. For any ole bird out there to hear its call. To come help him so he can fly home, to where he or she was going. Or was supposed to go.

Two years later. I sit again. On this porch. Watching this squeaky little bird That I just want to go away. And, I stop for a minute and remember God’s promise in Matthew 10:29. In that song I used to sing so long ago: His eye is on the sparrow. And I know He watches me. 

See, I had just asked Him: What is the point of all this? Why did all this happen, and when the heck are you going to give me any answers? Are you ever going to listen? 

I had been wounded. I had been attacked. I had felt abandoned, like a lost bird, and I didn’t understand it. And I needed his help, and I felt like he was silent.

Sometimes I feel like a wounded sparrow desperately calling out, and no one hears me. Yep…not even Him. He won’t give me the directions, and sometimes He isn’t telling me where to go.

When, in fact…He does. His Word. The very One that said I would never be forgotten in the first place. So, I opened my Bible, turned to a page at random and read Jeremiah 30 and 31 finding some of His promises:

“I have wounded you cruelly, as though I were your enemy. I will give you back your health and heal your wounds. In the days to come you will understand all this.” Jeremiah 30: 14,17,24

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3

Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They will walk beside quiet streams and on smooth paths where they will not stumble.”  Jeremiah 31:9

He is telling me to trust Him. To stop worrying, and he promises he won’t leave, He won’t drop me on my face, even though it feels like I am suffering down here.  He will pick me up when I fall, and he won’t ever let me go. He loves me.

I may feel like a lost bird some days. I may feel like that sparrow on my porch howling for someone to please come get me. To hear my little shriek down here below.

I may “feel” like he isn’t listening, but just like he gives flight to those birds. Gives them a place to land. Watches them, and won’t let them fall. He won’t let me either.

His eye is on this little sparrow, and I know He watches me.