I don’t know what your lot in life has been or will be in the future, but here’s a prayerful thought that I offer you
Photograph and graphic design by Jim Whalen
I had a pity party yesterday. I felt sorry for myself. Nothing is going as planned. Why should I an innocent, suffer? What is this all about? God, are you teaching me to be patient? Is there’s something better, as we like to say to cheer ourselves, or is this just life; and bad things happen to good people.
I hope not. I have seen bad things happen to good people. It is not pretty and it is not fair. My friends and my colleagues feel my pain too. But soon they will forget. They have to forget, and life for them will go on as before. But the ones that suffer—suffer still.
Richard H. Schmidt writes: “When we let our happiness depend on some future event, often something unlikely to happen and perhaps something that wouldn’t be best for us anyway, our waiting becomes tense and anxious. The key to waiting contentedly is to focus upon God.”* God, I am definitely focused on you-‘yeah right!’
Max Lucado writes: “(God) said no to good things so (God) could say yes to the right thing….”** I am wondering what that right thing is for me? You have been there too, huh.
God, I had a pity party yesterday and I want to have another one today. But you know what; I will fight this ‘poor me’ syndrome. I am better than this. I have choices. I choose to embrace the positive and even find good in this bad. This is what I know:
- God alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:2.
- For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11.
So God, I am reminded that I am on a journey. This wonderful journey; a journey that requires me to be attuned to every facet of my life; an opportunity to yearn and learn, to dream the impossible; an opportunity to re-think my direction, but more than anything; to trust you, to put my faith into action, to live out Psalm 23:1: “you are my shepherd and I have everything I need.”
Who needs a pity party?
*Richard H. Schmidt. Praises Prayers & Curses Conversations with the Psalms. 2005, p. 123.
**Max Lucado. Cure for the Common Life. 2005, p. 106.
A message for all of us, please take to the time to read. I would love to hear what you think.
Waiting for something better? How soon we forget the miracles of our past and yes, even the miracles of today. Today, I want to share with you a prayer that I shared with my faith community on August 1, 2009 and later published at Upward Edge (www.upwardedge.com). It’s time to share it again. I hope that this short prayer will bring to your remembrance your everyday miracles.
“So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?” John 6:30
God help us not to forget the miracles we have witnessed in our life time. Don’t let today’s burdens make us forget your love for us and your willingness to share our yoke.
God help us not to forget the miracle:
Of having a place to call home
Of having that job to pay those long overdue bills
Or finding that special friend and the love of our life
God help us not to forget the miracle:
Of being parents—when we and others thought it was not possible
Or re-uniting with family and friends that we thought were long-lost
God help us not to forget the miracle:
Of having spiritual mentors and heroes who strengthened our faith
For witnessing the physical healing of family and friends; we thought would long be gone
Of holding the hands of a dear brother as he departed this world or to be in the presence of friends as they too left us.
God help us not to forget your peacefulness, your assurances and the promises you have laid on our hearts.
I pray that as we remember the miracles in our lives that we will use our “gift of living” to help others who have forgotten their miracles— to bring hope to the hopeless; to provide shelter for the homeless and like Jesus feed the thousands.
When we remember our miracles we, like Jesus, can speak boldly the words of Isaiah 61:1-3a:
“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon (us)…; God has sent (us) to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…; to comfort all who mourn; 3 and provide for those who grieve…”
Will you share with us your miracles?
Should I be delighted that God has chosen me for this journey? What journey you say? I don’t know, but I am on this journey with God.
This journey is about discerning God’s will for my life. This journey is about waiting and trusting God to meet my needs; to be obedient to that “special prompting.” This journey is about me not being in charge; to not be my stubborn self, but to trust the God I cannot see, the one who promised me, many years ago, to be with me always to the end of my time. It is this God, the one in our “Holy Bible,” who has set so many free.
So I am on this spiritual journey that requires me to be prayerful, open, alert and yes, faithful to the spirit’s prompting. A journey that requires me to be attuned to every facet of my life and “to pay attention on many levels: to consult scripture, to seek the advice of trusted advisors, to heed the sensus fidelium (the collective sense of the faithful), to read widely and deeply the best ancient and contemporary thinking, to pray, to attend to the prick of conscience and to the yearnings and dreamings of (my) heart, to watch, to wait, to listen.”*
God, I like taking trips, but the stubborn, take charge person that I am is not ready to go on this particular journey. But you, oh Lord, in your wisdom has chosen this journey for me. I worry about my health, the loss of friendship and oh yes, security. Waiting, being patient and trusting that my needs will be provided by someone other than me is really scary. But yet, I take this journey. A journey that my “angel heart” has prepared me for–because my provisions, my comfort, my salvation is in your hand for “you are my shepherd and I have everything I need” (Psalm 23:1).
I pray that as I travel on this journey that I am faithful and can speak these same words as assuredly as Paul when he said: “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).
Should I be delighted?
* Wendy M Wright, in Rueben Job’s book: A Guide to Spiritual Discernment, 1996, p.86.
It’s like this: When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” 1Corinthians 13:11.
I don’t know the answers Lord. I don’t even know the questions. Here’s what I do know. I know I need you in my life.
Have I been a child too long? Am I depending on you to feed me, to embrace me and to assure me at every step?
When I become that adult will mysteries unfold and visions realized? Will I then live out my life’s mission–to do something good everyday; to make a difference in people’s lives; to allow my touch to heal and my voice to motivate? When I become that adult, will I be more like you Lord; showing people the Way?
O’ Lord, I don’t know the answers to life questions. All I know is that I want to pray, to bring people to the fold; to be like the Son. I know that life struggles will continue, that the sun will continue to shine and rain drops will continue to fall.
I don’t know the answers Lord, but I faithfully live knowing that You are my shepherd and that You are the answer to my questions; to all of life’s questions. Amen.
Published on April 11, 2009 at Upward Edge (www.upwardedge.com). Visit that site for great thoughts on Leadership
In my church last week, the congregation tearfully said good-bye to two friends who had been dedicated and committed servants in our church. So as we said good bye to our faithful servants, it made me think about a recent sermon (http://www.stjohnsmcc.org/CityOnaHill/podcasts/512-sermon–if-god-says-its-okay-its-okay-1100.html) I heard, and I wondered; what will be the next thing in our departing friends’ lives.
Are you ready to answer that question for yourself? We traditionally said that God is going to do a new thing, but I am here to tell you that God is ready to do the next thing in your lives.
What is the next thing that God has for you? Oh, by the way, it may be new to you; but to God it is the next thing. So what’s the next thing for you?
- To start that business you have dreamed about
- To write that book or to start that special blog
- To start that new job in a far away place
- To be that special friend to someone who needs a confidant or to the one who is grieving
- To take on a leadership role in your job, your neighborhood or your faith community, or
- To move aside so someone new can lead in a new way, or
- To take time for a little respite to rejuvenate and wait on for your new assignment.
If you still unsure just be patient, be confident in God’s timing. God will let you know; for “who knows whether you have come to your position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Yes, this may be your time, to do the unthinkable, to do the next thing God has ordained for you. So slow down; take a deep breath and get ready for the next thing.
Some say God does not speak to modern man. They believe, that since the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God no longer has anything to say. I refute that belief. God speaks to me through songs, through his Holy Words and through the inspirational writings of others.
God speaks to me through people, people like you and especially through those who practice the fruit of the spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
God speaks to me through nature; especially through the diversity of birds; through the various cloud formations, the beauty of God’s expansive forest with its trees and brushes. God speaks to me through his vast water ways and through his mighty hills and mountains. God even speaks to me through the death of loved ones.
How does God speak to you? They said we must be quiet; to be in a meditative state to hear from God. But for some, the chaos is required for God to speak to them; to obtain the compassion to right wrong, to inspire others.
Dave Kraft in his book Leaders Who Last (2010) writes that “it is vitally important that each of us discovers his own pathway to deep intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ…I try to use a combination of things, such as prayer walks, personal retreats, a daily devotional time, worshipful music, genuine community, or accountability with close and honest friends” (p.32).
So how do you hear God?
- Through music?
- Enjoying God’s creation?
- Being a part of a faith community?
- Through thinking and reflection?
It doesn’t matter. What does matter is to know that God still speaks to us today. Like in the “olden days” God is still seeking a relationship with us. He still wants to be a part of our lives. How does God speak to you?
Oh God, we need to hear from you. For it is through your Holy Presence within us that brings us joy, and instills in us a desire to serve your people and to change the world. Amen.
Oh God, take my fears away. My work is chaotic, my future uncertain, and I feel that I have so much to do. Where will I be in this new future?
Oh God, take my fears away. Trying to figure how I fit into the cosmos; trying to learn about you and your creation. Everything is so uncertain. My emotions are mixed; frightful, full of anxieties, to possibilities and hopeful transformation.
God take my fears away. I truly want to succeed. I truly want to make a difference, to make a mark; not for my sake, but for the sake of those hurting; those that are hungry, abused and oppressed.
God, take my fears away. It seems that death is more inviting and knowing than to debate with this world’s everyday drama. Where do I fit into all this; not knowing is too hard and too difficult to figure out. It seems easier just to close my eyes; I don’t have to wonder anymore; not to be frightened anymore; not to give any more…, but God, I know you can take my fears away.
It is written in Psalm 34:19 that “A righteous man may have many troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all…” God, I am one of your faithful servants; and I seek to be a righteous person; one of your anointed ones. Therefore, I am not a quitter; never have been and never will be. I know that during times of fear and uncertainty you are there. I must be willing to put my trust and my hope in you. I must be willing to let you truly be in charge.
So God even through my fear and anxiety, I am reminded of your love. I will trust that LOVE to guide me and bring me new possibilities and deeper love for you. Let us pray.
Dear creator how can we doubt your love for us? God prepare us for trials, but also remind us that even through our toughest trials and fears that you are there with us. Remind us that you hear our cries everyday and when we allow you to be in charge; patiently waiting to discern your will, that all will be fine; even through our tears and fears. We pray this in your Holy Name, Amen.
God, even during my darkest days, I see your handy work. Thank you for being faithful even when I am not.
Long enough, God—you’ve ignored me long enough. I’ve looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough I’ve carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain. Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me. Take a good look at me, God, my God; I want to look life in the eye, so no enemy can get the best of me or laugh when I fall on my face. Psalm 13:1-4 (The Message).
You want a more traditional version of this Psalm—check your King James Version, or New International Version or better yet, maybe the New Living Translation or the New American Standard Bible. Guess what, they all say the same thing. Can it get any worse, let’s see? I will use a more traditional scripture interpretation.
My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief. Psalm 22:1-2 (New Living Translation).
Have you ever doubted God’s love for you? According to Richard H. Schmidt (2005), “most of us feel forsaken by God from time to time. We feel either that God is real but has turned his back on us, or that the God we had thought was real is actually an illusion.” (p. 44). Those words in Psalm 22 were quoted by Jesus on the cross. He too felt abandoned by the One he had trusted; the one that God loves; God’s only begotten son.
Can I ask you again? Have you ever doubted God’s love for you? If so, revisit your life to see how faithful God has been to you, how he has blessed you, how he had protected you and how even today God continues to communicate with you. Are you surprised that he met your needs, not your wants, but your needs? Are you surprised to feel His presence among your friends and within your heart? Are your life renewed with optimism and hope.
Yes, we will feel abandoned again, but remember Jesus was one of us and he was there in that forsaken place. But according to Schmidt (2005), Jesus is also God and therefore, God knows what it is like to feel abandoned. Yes, this knowledge takes faith, but I pray that through your study of holy readings, prayers, your circumstances and fellowship with your faith community that God’s love for you will be revealed. So I say trust God and I pray today that we never forget God’s loves for us.