Tag: encouragement

Another Sunlight and Power

question-mark-g04e738b2c_640I don’t know what you are facing…a relationship challenge, a failure of some kind, a financial mistake, a natural disaster, a dashed hope, a serious diagnosis, a betrayal, a home improvement gone wrong, an age-related issue, a missed opportunity…there is an unending list of things that stress us out and cause discouragement, even anxiety in this world.

Each one seems more than enough to handle on its own. But those times when one seems to follow another, when there doesn’t seem enough time to recover from one when another takes hold, it can be crushing

When I begin to feel like that, I remember 2 things from the Bible.

pexels-michelle-andrews-118776031 – Proverbs has something to say about being crushed:

17:22 says A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

18:14 says The human spirit can endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?

2- And what Paul said in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians :

ceramic-g92395581a_6404:7-8 says But we have this treasure in jars of clay (we are the jars of clay) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (but the power in us is from God!)  We are hard-pressed on every side, but not CRUSHED!

 I had begun to feel crushed when a serious health issue I had been dealing with became grave. Complications were mounting and it was feeling overwhelming, crushing.

question-mark-40876__340Have you ever felt you could handle the actual circumstances, but then something changes in how you feel about it, in your spirit – – And that makes all the difference in the world?

I was feeling Proverbially crushed. But remembering that word Paul wrote CRUSHED, I looked up that reference and was encouraged.

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I AM only a jar of clay, but I have a POWER in me that surpasses any challenge, every trial.

 

In verse 16 Paul says (my emphasis) Therefore WE DO NOT LOSE HEART! Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

HOW? Verse 17   By fixing our eyes NOT on what is seen, but on what is unseen

cloud-729064_640As I was entering the building to pre-op for a surgery to create a dialysis fistula since my kidneys are failing, God gave me this poem – same building He gave me poems of encouragement when I went for my Breast Cancer biopsy, mammogram, and surgery consultation. (see the other blogs titled Sunshine and Power)

It was only later that I saw the connection to these scriptures.

Sharing this poem with you to encourage you to look for ways God is speaking to you about your situation.

Ask Him to speak to you.

Let Him speak through these scriptures.

Or the Sunlight.

Or the Storms.

And listen.

 

Your Power

I know that You are with me
I have felt this way before
and time and time again You’ve fought
and helped me win the war

But I’m getting older now
And every battle that I face
takes a greater toll on me
It’s only by Your grace

That as my body weakens
You are strengthening me within
This is how I fight my fears
And this is how I win

Your power is made perfect
Through the weakness that’s in me
And though I’m feeling helpless
it is not what others see

They see how You have lifted
And enabled me to stand
And delivered me from hardship
By Your mighty, sovereign hand

And so I put Your armor on
And face each day anew
In gratitude and faith
I thank You for being You

Laura Fail Shaffer © 7-13-2022

Discouraged? Don’t deny yourself the encouragement God has for you!

This week I’m volunteering at and attending a Christian Writers Conference. In the past it has been a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the craft of writing, but even more, a chance to meet with and connect with people who are gifted like me, and be encouraged by them.CCWC001

Yes, it will interrupt the usual flow of my week and take me out of my comfort zone with realizations of how much I do not know and still have to learn about writing better and the process of publishing. But what a gift, a blessing to be able to receive training and support from others God has gifted similarly.

pexels-icsa-1708988How encouraging to sit at the feet of those who have been where I am and have succeeded. To learn from mistakes they have made without having to make those mistakes myself. and to be recognized and rewarded for my efforts along with receiving encouragement and guidance.

What are you in the midst of that you would appreciate some guidance and encouragement for?

God has planned for and placed just what you need within your grasp. You need only reach out to receive it.

question-mark-40876__340Do you face challenges at work? With a hobby? In your marriage? Parenting? Grand parenting? Are you looking for direction to find your purpose? Your strength? The solution to a difficulty? Encouragement to keep going?

Be willing to interrupt your usual schedule to go where you can find the encouragement you’re looking for. To learn something new. To hear from someone who’s been where you want to go, or who’s had a victory over what you’re struggling with.
man phone
No more suffering in silence!  Call a friend, a co-worker. Take a class. Attend a conference. Seek a mentor or counselor. Talk with a doctor or someone at your church. Find a support group in person or online.

holding-hands-752878_640You are not alone. And I believe God will not give you more than you can handle. But He doesn’t intend for you to handle it all by yourself.

He has provided. It’s up to us to open our eyes and see it. It may not be in your comfort zone – but it is within your grasp.

Reach out!

Songs in the Night

Where is God my maker, who gives songs in the night (Job 35:10)

moon starsHave you ever been in the dark? Literally? Figuratively?

Not a fun place to be. I believe God created us to want the light, to seek the light. So even in the night time, He gave us the moon and stars to light our way. Even a little bit of light draws our attention and dispels darkness.

jesus-g46521aded_640I believe that He IS the Light that can guide us in the “dark” times of our lives. Those times of  disappointment, doubt, and discouragement, we don’t need to despair because God is with us and can teach us lessons in the dark. Even give us a song!

In the 1800s, William Taylor was a missionary for decades, traveling around the world; preaching and writing books. In a letter to a suffering friend he wrote: “The strength of the vessel can be demonstrated only by the hurricane, and the power of the Gospel can be fully shown only when the Christian is subjected to some fiery trial. If God would make manifest the fact that ‘He giveth songs in the night’ He must first make it night.”

guy guitarI have been in such fiery trials that I consider dark times. It’s easy to sit down and have a pity party. But when I have turned my attention to the Lord, He has responded by giving me songs. And hope.

I pray that whatever darkness you’re facing, you will call out to God and receive His comfort. That you will recall His faithfulness to you in the past. And be encouraged that He has a plan and purpose for you.

guy listening

May your eyes be open to His Light.

And your ears be attuned to the sweet song He sings to you.

Here is a song He gave to me at one of those times:

clef-g79de2a29a_640He Gives Strength

All was dark and dreary I could not see the light

            Sadness all around me, nothin’ was goin’ right

I picked up a Bible and tried to hold it near

            There I found a message I really needed to hear

Chorus

He gives strength to the weary and increases their power

He says “Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed!”

He gives strength to the weary

He says “Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed!”

I began to take those words He said to me to heart

Started feeling hope from God, He had done His part

I thought what I’d been feeling was hidden from the Lord

            But He knows every part of me and I have His Word, that

Chorus

He gives strength to the weary and increases their power

He says “Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed!”

He gives strength to the weary

He says “Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed!”

The Bible has a promise for those who hope in the Lord:

            He will renew your strength and help you learn to soar

You will soar like eagles and run but not grow tired

That is God’s own promise, He will lift you higher

Chorus

He gives strength to the weary and increases their power

He says “Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed!”

He gives strength to the weary

He says “Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed!”

“Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed!”

Isaiah 40:29-31; 41:10

©1989 Laura Fail Shaffer

Does it feel like you are missing some blessings?

Sometimes water is let go from a nearby lake and the water level drops. When that happens, the most noticeable thing is there are fewer birds on the water and rocks lay exposed. At first glance the water looks shallow and scummy and the banks muddy and messy. As if the water was the blessing and it had been taken away.

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Do you feel like some of the blessings you enjoy have been removed? For a time during Covid, many of us are missing comforts we had before.

When we have the blessing of good friends and family close around us, meeting together, celebrating together, we revel in it. We immerse ourselves in God’s blessing of good times when we have them. And so often, take them for granted. It seems to lose even a little of it would not be a good thing. Like the water level dropping in the lake. This was my brief conclusion.

Ducks_'n_trashWhere the trail comes near the water’s edge, I stepped off to have a closer look. From there I could see things… the ducks and geese had gathered in this inlet to feast on algae that had grown on the underwater rocks, now exposed because of the lowered water level.  What a blessing they were enjoying!

Many bottles and cans that had stuck in the muddy bottom were also now exposed, and a couple of kids had made their way down to the rocky edge to pull them out.  So, this “clean up” effort was made possible by the lowered water level.

If these benefits were occurring when water was withdrawn from the lake, could there be benefits in our lives when we feel blessings have been withheld for a time?

Would our examined lives reveal hidden blessings we take for granted, or that we usually don’t even notice?

If we take the time to look, the answer is probably yes.

Like the algae covered rocks, can we feast on the growth of our faith in God that has grown in the depth of His blessings but is not fully exposed until the level drops?  Yes.

Trusting God in the good times is building our faith and strengthening it so that when challenges arise, our faith can handle them. It’s encouraging to learn that the trust we have in the steadfastness and faithfulness of God in the good times will carry us through the harder times.

Have we allowed things into our lives under the covering of God’s blessing, that we need to remove when we see their trashy presence in full view.  Undoubtedly, yes.

Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time to every purpose under heaven.”  And if you are feeling like God’s blessing has been somewhat withdrawn in your life, don’t be discouraged.  You have a wonderful opportunity for discovery, feasting and clean up before you.

Kneeling-in-awe

Take a moment of quiet, and ask God to reveal a new blessing to you in the here and now.

Ask Him to reveal any attitude, behavior or relationship adjustment that needs to be “cleaned up.”

Appreciate that there is blessing in even this time.

And before long, the depths will return. my-lake

Sunlight and Power

breast-5472788_640

In 2018 I walked into a medical building for a biopsy after my mammogram showed something. Partly in disbelief, and partly with a “Why not me?” attitude. After all, I had walked through the process with my cousin a couple years before. And within the last 6 months 3 good friends had been diagnosed and were at varying stages of treatment.

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It almost felt like God had prepared me for just this by letting me see it up close and personally. As thoughts came to me I looked up to the sky to see a beautiful blue and bright sunshine, and uttered a spontaneous thanks to God for lifting my eyes and my spirit.

The words kept coming as God encouraged me with His truth and power. I spoke them into my cell phone:

Thank You Father
for the sunlight on my face,
for the power that I feel
as I am entering this place
of Unknown futures
that await and lie ahead;
my thoughts become confused
and I sense a sense of dread.
But my spirit soars
over victories I see;
all the many times You fought
and won the day for me.
I am clothed with a power
that I’m confident outlasts
whatever Satan throws at me,
whatever evil blast
might try to distract me
from the peace I know you give
and the confidence and trust I’ve placed
in You the while I live

Are you going through a challenging time?  A dIfficult diagnosis? Facing a hardship not of your own making?

Look to God for your sunlight – your Son-light. Think back to times when God was there for you.

Recall His faithfulness in the past. Write it down.

Ask God to clothe you with His power.

Put on the Armor of God  Ephesians 6:10-18

Appropriate His peace by focusing your mind on Him  Isaiah 26:3-4

He won’t disappoint you.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery got what was there. God walked by my side through the whole process. He gave me peace. And I still have it.

May the peace of God be upon you. May He strengthen you with His power. May He make a way where there seems to be no way. Amen